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tombookpub
04-17-2008, 09:14 PM
Just learned that I'll need to handle my book's index on my own. Yikes! Any advice? Should I do it myself? Should I hire someone who can use specialized software?
If answers to these questions have been already addressed (e.g., sticky), please let me know!
Thanks,
Tom

paprikapink
04-17-2008, 09:17 PM
Embrace it! The index can be the best part of a book. You can learn so much about your own organization and structure by indexing your material. I can't offer you specific help about how to achieve it because it's been years since I've had to do it myself, but I can tell ya that whether you end up paying a pro to do it or not, there's great benefit to giving it one or two passes on your own. Cod, I love the index!

sgunelius
04-17-2008, 11:00 PM
One of my publishers requires authors provide their own indexes. I was going to do it but didn't have time. I contacted two indexers who were recommended to me and both charged about $3.50 per indexable page. Feel free to email me if you'd like their info. It was pricey, but I was amazed at what a better job the indexer did than I would have done.

flashgordon
04-17-2008, 11:45 PM
Remember, there is a difference between a concordance and an index. Word and other processing programs can give you a concordance of pages where a particular keyword (of your choosing) appears, but it can't deliver a true index. I would recommend getting a professional to develop your index - that is if you have the money. On the other hand, you will learn a lot about yourself, your writing, and how words and ideas cross if you do it yourself.

ColoradoGuy
04-17-2008, 11:55 PM
I did my own for my two books--cost estimates for both (they were 85,000 words) were around $1,000 if I had used a professional. The Chicago Manual of Style format is what most publishers use. There are a few choices within that style, though, such as run-in vs. indented style or letter-by-letter vs. word-by-word. Professional indexing software is very expensive, has a steep learning curve, and is meant for professionals. The indexing function in MS Word is pretty crippled and I'd advise against it. If you really, really want to know about indexing, the bible is Nancy Mulvany's Indexing Books, but it's far more than most people need.

scope
04-18-2008, 01:13 AM
Indexing is an art unto itself. One doesn't have to be any sort of writer to be a good indexer. On the the hand, one can be an excellent writer and have little idea of how to index, cross index, know what should and should not be included in same, know how to organize, etc.

When called for I have never indexed a book of mine. I leave that to the index pros. They don't charge a lot of money, and they relieve you of an enormous burden. I'm sure others will differ with me.

gettingby
04-18-2008, 02:16 AM
This might be a stupid question, but how do you know if you will need an index? I had not even thought of that. Thanks.

IceCreamEmpress
04-18-2008, 02:54 AM
It depends which you have more of: time, or money.

If you have more time, you can do it yourself. The best way to do it yourself is the brute-force method, because the software just isn't that helpful unless you're expert in using it:

Before you start: Get an index stylesheet from your editor; if your publisher doesn't have an index stylesheet, ask your editor to send you some examples of "good indexes" from other books he/she's edited.

Step 1: Pick up your galleys. Reread your book very carefully. Whenever you see a topic or reference that you think should be in the index, make a note of it on an index card or in a notes program like Mori.

Don't bother writing down the page number at this point: just write the person's name or topic. "Harry Houdini"; "circus elephants"; "Chattanooga, Tennessee"; "Yiddish"; "spiritualism" etc.

Step 2: Collate the above into an alphabetized list. Review it, tweaking as necessary; you may want a heading for "Circus animals" in general, with subheads for "elephants" and "lions" and "tigers", for instance. Check your list against the stylesheet or examples.

Step 2a: Send the list to your editor for review.

Step 3: With your index list in hand, do a global search of your MS for the page numbers. You may want amplifying entries for some of the topics: for instance, you might get:

Houdini, Harry, 10-13, 260-263, 317; early life, 13-14; influences on, 15-17; literary works, 23; marriage to Bess, 21

Recheck your draft index against the stylesheet or examples.

Step 3a: Send the draft index to your editor for review.

Some useful resources are the Chicago Manual of Style and Indexing Books by Nancy Mulvany. Also this webpage (http://www.upress.virginia.edu/authorinfo/handprf.html) from the University of Virginia Press.

kimmer
04-18-2008, 06:09 AM
This is strange. I just spoke to my indexer today telling her all about absolutewrite. The time vs. money comment is true but also think about how your time and expertise is best spent. I know it would take me far longer to figure this all out than to hire a professional to just do it. Much like the photos and graphics for my book. I actually sent hand-drawn figures and the publisher probably got a good laugh out of it but of course I hired a graphic designer. I tried to figure out all of the intellectual property/legal stuff myself but after one phone call, one meeting and a few emails - it was done. The woman I'm using for indexing actually teaches other indexers how to index and because she isn't in New York or another high-cost-of-living area I found her quote to be reasonable - again, based on what it would cost me in time and training to do it myself. PM if you want her name and number. Believe me, I'm a do-it-yourselfer but sometimes it just pays to hire someone else so you can move on to things that actually create revenue instead of drain it.

IceCreamEmpress
04-18-2008, 06:14 AM
Believe me, I'm a do-it-yourselfer but sometimes it just pays to hire someone else so you can move on to things that actually create revenue instead of drain it.

Yes, I agree with this (having done indexing in the past myself, thank Heaven for the clients who value their time over money).

But if the original poster has to do things on a shoestring, it's possible. Lots of work, though. Lots and lots of work.

hastingspress
04-20-2008, 03:13 PM
Hi Tom

I have indexed all the books I have published. It's not at all difficult! Whether you should do it yourself depends on whether you want to spend the money!

Helena

tombookpub
04-21-2008, 06:43 AM
Thanks to all who shared their thoughts. At this point, I'm leaning towards doing it myself.

tombookpub
05-04-2008, 08:00 AM
Thanks for the reply. Did you use special software, or just plain MS Excel (for ex.) with each row being a page number and each column a topic?

ResearchGuy
05-23-2008, 06:42 PM
Just learned that I'll need to handle my book's index on my own. Yikes! Any advice? Should I do it myself? Should I hire someone who can use specialized software?
If answers to these questions have been already addressed (e.g., sticky), please let me know!
Thanks,
Tom
Word has indexing. The mechanics are not particularly difficult, even if tedious. BUT indexing is a specialty (putting aside the software mechanics), so if it is important to do it right, then maybe you want to pay a professional (which seems to be an unreasonable imposition on the author, but so be it). A key question is how complex is the needed indexing.

Here is a resource you might want to consider: http://libriservices.com/

--Ken

tombookpub
05-30-2008, 02:59 AM
Thanks for your help and advice!