Art history was part of my interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in medieval studies, and I have always enjoyed the particular demands of art and art historical texts. Art books are especially labor-intensive because they contain particularly extensive amounts of indexable materials and a good understanding of different schools, media, and historical periods. Recent projects include catalogues, exhibition-related essay collections, and theoretical studies.
History and Archaeology
I have an undergraduate degree in medieval studies and a PhD in medieval history. I am very comfortable working with prehistoric, classical, medieval, early modern, and modern historical topics in western and Asian cultures, and have indexed a wide variety of historical and archaeological works. I regularly complete projects for Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and other scholarly and university publishers.
Modern editions of older works, especially early modern and premodern texts, demand special attention. One often has to juggle multiple languages: that of the original writer, previous translators and editors, the modern editor, and the modern audience, all of whom may use the same word in rather different ways. The English word “liberty,” for instance, in seventeenth and eighteenth century works is often used to mean what we might call “free will” rather than the political freedoms with which we associate it. My graduate studies in history and my familiarity with Greek and Latin have provided me with a very useful background for indexing historical texts in the subject areas of law, political science, theology, philosophy, and history.
Law and Business
For nine years I worked at Research Institute of America, a legal publishing company, running their indexing department in Alexandria, Virginia. As a sole proprietor of Mertes Editorial Services, I have worked for all the major legal publishing companies. I have indexed an edition of the entire set of publications of the IRA, a twenty-one volume series on employment law, the U.S. tax code, and “Corbin on Contracts,” one of the flagship publications in contract law. I am comfortable working on updates of looseleaf publications, scholarly monographs, popular business handbooks, and works for specialized practitioners.
Political Science/Public Policy
Globalization has made more urgent our need to understand the world, and publishers have responded by producing an ever-greater number of texts in the arena of political science and public policy. I have wide experience in the indexing such books, working regularly with the World Bank, Liberty Fund, nongovernmental organizations, and scholarly presses.
I obtained a postdoctoral certificate in systematic theology from Blackfriars College, University of Oxford; and of course, as a medievalist, I have always been interested in the history of religion. I am also comfortable working with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew texts. I have created indexes for the bible three times, and I have indexed for a number of scholarly and popular publishers of religious, theological, and spiritual texts.
Even the best writers sometimes need assistance in managing the content of their work. Any indexer will tell you that some books are so well put together that they practically index themselves: the critical topics and the design of the argument are always apparent to the reader. Because of my indexing background, my great strength is in the reorganization of material into a cohesive structure with a strong narrative flow. I have removed 500 pages from an unwieldy 1200 page manuscript to create a coherent and well-argued text, and found ways to restructure the remainder into a second, published volume. I have helped authors with a solid knowledge base but an overly technical style rewrite and reorder their text for a popular audience. I can work with both editors and authors, small associations, and large scholarly publishers. If you would like to know more about my experience and skills, please contact me.
Teaching and Lecturing
After six years as an academic I moved into publishing, but teaching is still in my blood. Currently I teach a course on indexing for the Catholic University of America as an adjunct professor, and I have given my popular lecture “NASCAR Indexing: Creating and Maintaining Speed” to many local and national groups. I am a regular speaker at the American Society of Indexers (ASI) national conferences, and to local ASI chapters and groups, and in 2007 was a featured speaker at the Indexing Society of Canada national conference. I have also taught workshops for the Special Libraries Association and the American Association of Law Librarians. While I do not take on private, individual instruction, I am available to teach corporate workshops on indexing and taxonomies and to speak to association meetings and conference groups.