Who Should Write The Index
"Writing an index does not come naturally, like breathing. It is more like
playing the fiddle: some learn to do it reasonably well, a few will become
virtuosi, but most people will never know how to do it. This simple truth
seems lost on publishers and editors." (Source: Hans H. Wellisch, Indexing from A to Z)
Ask yourself: how much is your index worth to you in terms of book sales, royalties,
reviews, text adoptions, peer approval, and personal satisfaction? A good, professionally
written index is a road map that leads both experts and novices in
your field to every pertinent sentence you have written. A professionally written
index can have have a tremendous impact on sales of your book.
Writing an index takes understanding of the reader as well as the subject. It takes
objectivity, perspective, a sense of proportion and priority, patience, speed, technical
training and experience in indexing that takes time to master. Entrust your index to a
professional book indexer.
"Book indexing is something that you will either enjoy or detest; and there is little middle
ground. "You either have a knack for it, or you won't.” “I don’t not believe
indexing can be taught...since a very important aspect of this work comes down to the individual
indexer's judgment and communication abilities... Like other types of writing, it is a mixture of
art and craft, judgment and selection." (Source: Nancy Mulvany, Indexing Books.)
Why the Author Should not index
The author can be an expert in his/her field, but be emotionally too close to their
book to be able to write a quality index that does justice to the book's contents.
- When writing an index, it can be difficult to decide which details to include, and
which ones to leave out of the index. Organizing all these details into a meaningful
web of headers and subheadings, and cross-references, can be daunting!
- Indexing is a skill, developed over time, and the first index is usually a disaster.
Do you really know what is involved in writing an index?
- Writer's fatigue and yet another deadline to write the index, may be too much!
- And don't forget the author's spouse - who may be unable to tolerate the book
in the house for one more month, week or even one more day!
Why a Professional Indexer Should
A professional indexer has the training and experience obtained from writing
a great many indexes and the challenges associated with structuring information
for easy access and retrieval.. Indexing is an art and a skill, developed over time.
- A professional indexer has the necessary organizational and analytical skills; and
knows the established principles of information retrieval; knows the publisher's
style guidelines and standards such as The Chicago Manual of Style.
- A professional indexer will write a high-quality index to your specifications, style,
format and length. The index will be written within your time constraints and for
the book's anticipated audience.
- A good index adds real value to a book which increases book sales. Successful
authors recognize that readers prefer to buy books with well written and
"If your index is not designed properly, and if it does not have
the strength that is gained by weaving the ideas together with
cross-references, double postings, and succinct entries which
make sense, then you are depriving your readers of the ability
to find information you gathered for them, the work that came
from the depths of your soul." L. R. Rodberg