At the end of May my beloved niece got married. I hosted the bridal morning preparations (I'm still pulling bobby pins out of my carpets), a dinner, and several other events. It was a lot of work but it was also great and energizing fun, the kind of fun that keeps you buzzed for weeks afterwards. That sort of non-caffeinated energy is like gold! The ASI annual conference gives me that same buzz on a professional level, and I want to leverage all the ideas it's generated to keep ASI moving forward over the next year. And I want to make sure all you ASIers out there get to share in the buzz. We're up to a lot, these days!
Publicity and Marketing: ASI wants to increase its value to members and to the publishing community—an especially important goal in hard economic times. Towards that end, we've developed a multipronged publicity and marketing plan which will be posted on the website, and we've set up several new chair positions targeting specific goals (see volunteers needed, above, for three vacant jobs). The ultimate aim of the campaign is to raise the profile of indexing as a service with publishers, authors, and book users. We had originally considered running some advertisements; but the problem is, it's hard to get across what indexing is and what it does in the tight, sharp copy of an advert. (Plus, they're very expensive!)
Some of you may remember the infamous Money Magazine article, published in the early nineties, in which the author wrote that you could take up indexing and make $50,000 within a year. (Nobody in ASI knew him then, and he seems to have vanished from the industry now.) ASI's membership rose dramatically for a few years and it did raise our profile with publishers, but we were such a small group at the time that we could barely cope with the rush; plus, as you may have guessed from my description, the article was wildly overoptimistic about the indexing life. So here's what the board thought: if someone generated that kind of interest in indexing now, we actually have the resources to handle it. Why not try to do it right this time by publishing articles in appropriate sources with actual, realistic assessments of what it's like to be an indexer?
I know many of our members have writing experience and skills. In particular, we are thinking that we should develop an article on ASI for Wikipedia. If you'd be interested in working on such an article, or have other ideas about possible publishing sources, Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Cheryl Landes (electronic presence subcommittee chair, and herself an accomplished profession writer).
Volunteers Needed: ASI needs volunteers for three publicity and marketing subcommittee chairs (publications, Locator/Hotline, and training). These are brand new positions aimed at brainstorming, developing, and executing publicity campaigns for ASI publications (individually and collectively), the Locator and Hotline services (to ASI members and to the publishing world), and the ASI training program. If you like taking initiative and designing your own work product, you're the right person for one of these posts. You can liaise with the people who run these services and with your appointed board liaison; you can put together a committee or go at it on your own; you can do a little or a lot. None of these jobs should be onerous, though; they shouldn't require more than an hour or so per week, if that, and funding is available (with board approval) for any projects you'd like to develop. They also provide GREAT opportunities for networking with indexers, editors, and publishers. Contact me at email@example.com if you are interested.
Annual Conference Committee: At our most recent meeting, the ASI board decided it was time to try to start uncoupling the job of the President-Elect from that of the Conference Chair. While the Prez-Elect will still have overall authoritative powers over the running of the annual conference, we'd like whoever is holding that office to be able to have more to do with backing up the President in running ASI, and the conference is very much a full-time job in and of itself. In addition, many people would like to run for President, but can't face the idea of running the Conference alone, or would be interested in working on the Conference but don't want to be President. To that end, we'd like to start by trying to build a Conference Committee for the Minnesota 2010 meeting. If you're interested, please contact the current Prez-Elect, Fran Lennie.
Salary Survey: It's been quite a while since ASI last held a salary survey, and between the financial downturn and the exigencies of time we know the salary data we now refer to is getting out of date. ASI headquarters staff and some designated members have been working on a new survey. The final draft is undergoing a last polish and some beta testing; we want to make sure all the questions are clear and precise. We are talking about launching it later in the summer or early in the fall, when most people are back at work and we think we'll get the best response rate.
Webinars: The ASI board has been discussing the use of online meeting software. We first talked about it as a way of facilitating board meetings, and it expanded from there to finding ways for chapters and SIGs to hold online meetings, and to the possibility of creating Webinars from local, regional, and national meetings. Some of you may remember when ASI used to make tapes of its annual conference sessions, which we then sold through ASI publications. While these were popular, filming and taping meetings has become an increasingly expensive proposition and the final results are not always satisfactory without considerable manipulation. However, now a number of free or very reasonably-priced softwares are available that allow both simulcasting of a meeting or its recording and replaying online. Two such products we are now looking at are Yugma and Dimdim. While they won't replace actually being there, these technologies may allow chapters and SIGs to throw their meetings open to a more far-flung audience, and for ASI to disseminate its annual conference sessions to more members. Cheryl Landes is investigating the use of these softwares and will be reporting to the board when she can; we hope we can have a trial run with a chapter meeting this fall some time. If your chapter or SIG is interested in this, please contact the chapter relations chair or the SIG leader chair. I'd also be interested in hearing from anyone who has personal or professional experience in setting up and running a Webinars or online meetings.
Member Discounts: If you haven't checked them out yet, you should have a look at some brand spanking new ASI member discounts with OfficeMax and UPS. The OfficeMax Partner Advantage Program offers members-only pricing, convenient ordering, a dedicated local account manager, Free delivery on orders over $50, and a Retail Connect Program providing contract pricing at nearly 1,000 stores nationwide. We also have a arrangement for discounted shipping with UPS. Take advantage of special savings on UPS shipping offered to you as a member of the American Society for Indexing. You can now save up to 26% off UPS air and international Express shipping. For complete details or to sign up, call 1-800-325-7000. Go to the Member Benefits page for further details on these and other ASI member discounts. (The UPS link is being worked on as I write; if it isn't operational on the website when you check, try the phone number or check back later. We should have it up and running very soon.)
The Amazon Click: No, this is not a new dance (though it should be!). The American Society for Indexing is a member of the Amazon.com Associates Program. This program is "the leading selling program on the Internet, with over 500,000 members." When you buy books, electronics, and other items at amazon.com, your purchase benefits ASI at no additional cost to you! In order for ASI to benefit from your purchase, please use the click-thru graphic at the Purchase Books Online page. We've been a member of the Associates Program for a while, but even so I forget to click through to Amazon from the ASI website, so it's worthwhile reminding everyone periodically. A couple of keystrokes adds a few $$$ to ASI's kitty, and that ultimately goes towards funding programs and projects that benefit members.
Kate Mertes President, ASI