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JohnJStephens
10-04-2005, 06:20 PM
My nonfiction book is complete, but I have not written an index. If you claim that the manuscript is complete, do agents/publishers expect an index as well? Or would they take care of this themselves if they accept the ms? Thanks!

aka eraser
10-04-2005, 06:31 PM
The publisher took care of that for me. I expect that's the norm, so submit away and good luck.

Jamesaritchie
10-04-2005, 06:54 PM
My nonfiction book is complete, but I have not written an index. If you claim that the manuscript is complete, do agents/publishers expect an index as well? Or would they take care of this themselves if they accept the ms? Thanks!

The publisher usually takes care of the index. Some writers, however, think publishers do lousy, incomplate jobs and ask to do it themselves.

TashaGoddard
10-04-2005, 10:21 PM
In the UK, it is usually (officially) the author's responsibility to compile an index (or pay for it to be compiled), though quite often publishers will get this compiled themselves if they are not confident in the author's indexing abilities(*). However, it would not be done until after the book has been typeset and has reached a fairly late proof stage (to allow for text moving about). Whether or not it would be your responsibility, it is not something that should be done at this stage, so you do not need to worry about your book being incomplete through lack of it.

Well done on finishing the manuscript! Is it at 1st draft stage or are you feeling ready to submit it? Have you had beta readers give you feedback? Have you put it aside for a week or two and then re-read it yourself? Whatever you do, don't send the 1st draft out with doing some of the above. (Apologies if you already have done!)

(*) Notice the differences between mine and Jamesaritchie's statements about this. I wonder if this is a UK/US difference or something else?

MadScientistMatt
10-04-2005, 10:22 PM
On the other hand, no matter what country you're in, it will be nearly impossible to index the book until it has been typeset.

JohnJStephens
10-05-2005, 11:51 AM
Thanks for the very helpful answers. So it seems that, whether the index is the author's responsibility or not (US/UK divide?), this is not an issue at ms submission stage.

Tasha, Yes, I've done all the above, thanks. And Matthew, I am not sure if what you say is true, because of the indexing tools built into Microsoft Word etc.

Jaws
10-05-2005, 06:55 PM
Depending upon the publisher, one of three things will happen with an index:
* If you want the index, you prepare it. The publisher doesn't care how, or how much it costs, as long as it is exactly the required length to fill out the signature.
* The publisher will offer to prepare the index. There may (or may not) be an allowance for this in your advance—that is, you'll get paid $5,000, but your advance will be booked as $6,000, with the remaining $1,000 being the publisher's budget for the index (all numbers for illustration only).
* For certain kinds of reference works, the publisher will undertake to prepare the index at its own expense. Typically, this is for books costing $80 and up, usually for professional audiences that have come to expect a certain kind of index using certain terms of art; the publisher has determined that it can't trust authors to do the work.

But, in any event, you don't need an index prepared now, and in fact an index of the submission-formatted manuscript would be pretty useless!

MadScientistMatt
10-05-2005, 07:32 PM
Tasha, Yes, I've done all the above, thanks. And Matthew, I am not sure if what you say is true, because of the indexing tools built into Microsoft Word etc.

I'm not very familiar with the indexing tools they have out now. Such an index would need to do a lot. First, it would need to be updated as the book is edited - you may decide that entire pages need to be moved around, depending on the book. Second, it would need to change its page numbers accurately as typesetting changes how many words are to a page. Would it accurately track things if a paragraph that was on one page now covered two? And third, this updatable index would need to remain functional as the book moved from one file format to another.

And if the publisher at any point did something that involved retyping the book entirely from hard copy, it would be lost.

I suppose such a thing may be possible at a publisher which uses electronic submissions and caries out every process by computer. But I'm not sure Word's indexing would work under all circumstances.

Tish Davidson
10-06-2005, 12:56 AM
I've written four non-fiction books and the index was prepared by the publisher at the publishers expense in every case (and these weren;t $80 books). What the books had in common were that they were published by companies that do reference books and the target buyers were schools and libraries. if you're writing a mass market non-fition book the situation may be different. This is probably something that you do not even need to think about until the contract stage. All my contracts have had a section that said something like The author is responsible for

Table of Contents
Introduction, not to exceed xxx words
Text to be approximately xxxxxx words long divided into approximately xx chapters
2 - 3 sidebars per chapter
glossary
list of works consulted
list of works/organizations for more information
about the author statement.

I have never been asked to do an index, find photos, make graphs, etc. When graphs were called for, I just provided the raw information and someone in the art department did them. Photo suggestions were appreciated but not required.

Don't sweat the accessory stuff. It won't make or break getting a contract.

Jamesaritchie
10-06-2005, 05:28 AM
Yes, worrying about an index at this stage is the wrong thing to do. Some publishers do charge the index against the writer's advance, but many do not, regardless of how much or how little the book costs.

Lauri B
10-06-2005, 04:22 PM
We ask our authors to come up with a list of indexing terms, then review it, add to it, and create the index in house. It hasn't been a huge issue for us, and it certainly didn't make or break an offer or contract.