10 Tips to help you evaluate an index for quality

Ensure that key details are reflected in the indexThe book you have spent so long writing and editing is almost ready to be published. It is in its final layout, and has been proofread multiple times. The one hurdle remaining is the index. Finally, you receive the index manuscript for review. While it may be tempting to give the index just a cursory glance before blessing it with your imprimatur, it is worth investing a modest amount of time to ensure that the index does your book justice. A complete and well-constructed index adds real value to your book by making its content more accessible to readers. How can you be confident that the index you receive is good enough for your book? [Read more…]

3 Things book indexers wish you knew

Seth Maislin

Seth Maislin, freelance indexer

1. Indexing is an editorial function.

You own a spellchecker, so why do you continue to work with editors? That’s easy. You need an editor to correct all the stupid mistakes your spellchecker makes, along with the 20 other good things that spellcheckers never do. Indexing, like writing and editing, requires a human being. Search, automatic indexers, and even simple alphabetizing tools are inferior, able to build things that look okay but function terribly.

2. Authors can write their own indexes, but there’s no good reason for it.

Just because you’re capable doesn’t mean you do it. Most of us do not grow vegetables, fill potholes, produce movies, or whittle wood into pencils. We know to rely on people who are efficient and qualified, because we have more appropriate things to do instead. Indexers are highly educated people who have the right combination of experience, training, and subject knowledge to prepare the best product for your readers. Unless you’re a professional indexer yourself—and there are a multitude of opportunities for you to become one—leave the hard work to the experts. Even gardeners buy most of their groceries. [Read more…]

How to determine what and what not to index

indexingA good rule of thumb for deciding what to index, said freelance indexer Kay Banning, is to ask: “Is the user happy to be there when you send them there?” The answer to that question, said Banning, will help determine what to index and what not to index.

Banning said she charges usually charges $3.25 to $3.50 per page, subtracting any pages that don’t need indexing. After receiving the hard copy pages by express mail, she said she does a first read-through of the book to see the “big picture.” Then she reads the introduction and review questions to get the author’s slant for what is important in the book. [Read more…]