A professional index is essential for any work of non-fiction. Readers expect to find a useful, well-presented index at the back of a book, and can get very frustrated if the index doesn’t quickly lead them to the information they seek. A professional index can increase a book’s chances of being taken on by a mainstream publisher.
- Are you an author planning to compile your own index?
- Have you been asked by your publisher to provide an index for your book?
- Are you self-publishing your work? If so, don’t let your readers down by offering them a sub-standard index. A professional index will set your work apart from other self-published books.
Indexing need not be expensive – and an effective index is the key to a good non-fiction book.
A Professional Index
WritersServices’ Indexing service can help.
Our indexer will be a skilled professional with many years of experience of indexing, which is a highly skilled job. We only use indexers who are full members of the Society of Indexers British professional body representing indexers. The site at http://www.indexers.org.uk gives useful FAQs about indexing and a professionally-respected course.
British professional body representing indexers. The site at http://www.indexers.org.uk gives useful FAQs about indexing and a professionally-respected course.– a UK society with rigorous standards. For specialist subjects (for example, legal or medical texts), an indexer with specialist knowledge will be selected to work on your index.
- The indexer will work on final, numbered proofs of your manuscript. For this reason, indexing is often the last task to be completed in the publishing process – and is often rushed or overlooked. Our indexing service will be fast, comprehensive and accurate.
- If you have a publisher, our indexer will follow the publisher’s house guidelines, which you will need to provide. This is also the case for American publishing – the indexer will compile the index to fit the requirements of the market.
- Our indexer will work on a hard copy of your manuscript, indexing the final numbered proofs. These can be provided in either physical or electronic format – a small charge will be made to cover printing if the proofs are provided electronically.
1. Hard copy – You will be given the contact details of our indexer and can send the proofs directly, or have your publisher send them on your behalf. Our indexer will let you know when they have arrived and check that every page is present and correctly numbered before they start work. Please provide a stamped self-addressed envelope if you want the proofs returned to you.
2. Electronically – If you prefer, you can send your work electronically, usually as a pdf file. Other file formats may be acceptable – contact us for details. Once again, our indexer will check through the file before starting work on your index.
It is essential that the index is compiled from proofed, numbered pages. Any changes to the text made after the index is completed may render the index useless.
The Author’s Input
The author and the indexer each have an important contribution to make: the author knows his readership extremely well, and the indexer knows how a reader is likely to use the index. Working together is the best way to ensure the finished product is an index that is a joy to use.
Some authors like to produce a list of key words for the indexer to include. In many cases these key words would have been indexed anyway, but in some situations an author may want to ensure that certain topics are treated with particular importance. Other authors prefer to allow the text to speak for itself.
What it costs
Indexing is a complex and skilled task, which often has to be completed in the shortest possible time. Because of this, indexers often work long hours, into the night and through weekends. We make every effort, however, to keep our indexing costs low and competitive to provide the best possible service to authors. Our charges start at £1.50 per page for general narrative non-fiction, increasing according to the complexity of the work. Indexes for more complex titles such as legal or scientific texts will be quoted on a case-by-case basis and we would need to see sample material in the form of an emailed manuscript in order to give any quote.
If you need to work out the estimated page extent of your work, go to Estimating what your costs will be.
Please note that we will need to assess the material before we can confirm the fee. There is no charge for this assessment, but please send your manuscript to us as one unzipped Word document to get a quote. We cannot quote without seeing the material because we can't estimate how long the work will take.
The fee is payable in advance.
There is no minimum length or charge for an index.
Please remember that your manuscript must be in its final stage for an index to be compiled. All editing and proofreading must be completed, any illustrations inserted, and all pages numbered in their final positions. Preliminary pages (known as ‘prelims’) will not normally be included in the index, but sufficient space must be allowed if any preliminary text is to be included later. Changes made to the text or paging of the manuscript will create the need for a new index, which may be charged at the full original price.
How long will it take?
This will depend on the length of your work, but indexes are usually completed within days rather than weeks due to the ‘last minute’ aspect of their place in the publishing process. The more notice we have the better, although we understand that the actual date of proof delivery may change due to circumstances out of your control. We will be able to give you a more accurate assessment of timing when you contact us for a quote, but as a rough guide a book of around 300 pages can usually be indexed within 10 working days, providing enough notice is given for the work to be assigned and booked in with the indexer.
From our self-publishing service, WritersPrintShop, Chas Jonesauthor; formerly nerd responsible for keeping the site running; spent over 25 years in computer business; started out dusting bugs off valves, but in time graduated to writing software and managing projects; as published author with stack of waiting-to-be-published manuscripts tucked away, WritersServices is answer to his silent prayer; his book 'Ordinary Heroes' An extraordinary true story of wartime adventure; recently published book about Battle of Fulford-'Fulford the forgotten battle of 1066', published by Tempus ISBN 0752438107' article on Preparing an index
Joanne PhillipsUK-based freelance writer and ghostwriter. She has had articles published in national writing magazines, and has ghostwritten books on subjects as diverse as hairdressing and keeping chickens. Visit her at www.joannephillips.co.uk is a UK-based freelance writer and professional indexer. She has had articles published in national writing magazines, and has ghostwritten books on subjects as diverse as hairdressing and keeping chickens. Visit her at www.joannephillips.co.uk.
She has also written excellent articles for WriterServices on
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