It’s indisputable that an index is crucial to disseminating the knowledge you have gathered in your latest book, so I won’t explain why your book should have an index. What I want you to consider is engaging a professional indexer who can make you an outstanding index, instead of doing the job yourself or letting one of your students do an inadequate job.
A professional indexer usually has years of experience indexing books in your field. Most authors, with a very few exceptions, find compiling an index a daunting task. You will have to learn the craft by reading numerous books and maybe even follow a course or two. Before you start the index you will also have to understand all the principles and standards of information retrieval. Do you think that all this will guarantee you an outstanding index on your first attempt or even your second or third?
A professional indexer is usually specialized in a few academic subjects. This means that the indexer is very familiar with these topics, knows the jargon and will be able to point out errors, discrepancies or repetitions in the text. The indexer is very good at giving you a new perspective on the effectiveness of your presentation.
A professional indexer uses specialized indexing software, to support the process of manually compiling an index, just like MS Word supports you when writing your texts. This software isn’t cheap. Are you going to spend $500 on software that you only use once or twice and that has a steep learning curve to boot?
A professional indexer can comply with every publisher’s request concerning layout and index style. This is mostly done with the help of the above mentioned software. As an author you have to learn about all these layout minutiae and find out how to implement them using the software. No easy task.
- TECHNICAL ADVANCES
A professional indexer can deal with most of the technical advances in the publishing industry. It is not exceptional for publishers to ask for an embedded index in Word, InDesign or Framemaker, especially when a book will also be published as an e-book. Most professional indexers can deal with these requests.
- COST EFFECTIVENESS
A professional indexer is more cost effective than you think. Because of experience, specialization and the use of specialized software, a professional indexer can work quickly, accurately and efficiently. This means the indexer can do the work much quicker than you, the author, who still has to learn the ropes.
- STRESS LEVELS
A professional indexer can reduce your stress levels. Indexes are compiled at the end of the production process, in the same few weeks when you have to check the proofs. So why make this stressful period, even more stressful by planning to do the index as well.
A professional index enhances your book. You have spent several years of your life writing this book. The copy editor, designer and proofreader have all worked their magic. Special attention has been paid to paper, font and book cover. Then, as a tailpiece, you have an outstanding index made by a professional. It will reflect very favourably on your own professionalism and researchers in your field will find it a pleasure to use your book.
Where to find indexers suitable for indexing your book? On their websites all indexing societies have a searchable database of available indexers:
Digital Publications Indexing (ASI-SIG)
History/Archaeology Indexing (ASI-SIG)