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 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.

“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