Q: Who is responsible for the creation of the index?
A: Traditionally, authors are responsible for the creation of the index, though the majority find a freelancer to write the index for them. A few publishers have an indexing staff, but most of the time, this part of the process is contracted out. I have had several instances in which an author will contact me after making an attempt at creating the index, only to learn they do not have the tools, skills, or time to do so.
Q: Can’t I just have a software do the job for me?
A: Technically, yes, but what you would end up with be a concordance, rather than an index. A concordance is a list of words found in the text, where an index is an organization of thoughts, ideas, and concepts. For example, in a book on investments, an author may use the idiom “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” referring to risk taking. The words risk taking may not be used, and therefor software would not find it. An index entry of bush, or bird, would be useless.
Q: How much should I budget when hiring an indexer?
A: Indexers typically charge by indexable pages. Indexable pages refer to any page with text on it, and exclude such pages as blank, TOC, section dividers, etc. I find typical trade books’ indexable pages are 85-90% of their total page count.
The rate depends greatly on several factors: depth of book topic, size of book, number of illustrations, project timeline, and publication type. You will find my rate competitive with other indexers with my level of experience, and ranges from $3-$4 per indexable page. I do offer a discount for self-publishing authors, so be sure to ask me for more information.
Q: At what point in the publishing process does is the index created?
A: At the very end. All edits and proofreading will need to be complete before handing off the book to an indexer. Even small changes to text can change pagination, making the index worthless, and requiring the project to start over (usually at the author’s expense).
Indexing is more than a job for me. It is what I love to do. The idea of being a small part of authors living out their dreams is an amazing feeling. Writing an index that is comprehensive, thoughtfully structured, and properly reflects the text is something I take very seriously.
When I index I read the manuscript from three different points of view:
First, I think like the reader. What topics will they want to find more about? Where will they look to find the answers they are looking for? What can I do to assist the reader to quickly, efficiently, and correctly find the information in the book they want?
At the same time, I put my mind into the mind of the author and production team. Writing and publishing a book of any kind is a true labor of love. As the author, you have scrutinized every word in this masterpiece and revised, re-written, and loss sleep over the best way to communicate your point. My promise to you is that I will recognize your passion for the subject matter and treat each word with the respect it deserves.
Lastly, I think as a marketer. The business of buying books has evolved over the last several years, and understanding the habits of book buyers, librarians, and the general consumer is vital in the writing of an index. I will be sure terms those professionals will be looking for are included in the index.
Copyright © Jen Weers, Indexer. All rights reserved.