This week, 19 to 23 November is #WorkInPublishing week. As an indexer, I sometimes get asked “Do you work in publishing?” and my answer is “Yes, of course I do.” Indexing is one of the last stages that a non-fiction text goes through on its way to print. Like copy-editing and proofreading, indexing is mostly done by freelancers like me. The good ones are trained, professional people who are members of The Society of Indexers. That means we uphold professional standards and promote indexing to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.
How do people become indexers? What previous knowledge or skills do you need? The Society of Indexers has a brilliant self-paced course. Trainees work through the modules and other elements of the course and get first-rate teaching from the online tutors. It may be self-paced, but it isn’t a lonely experience. To be an indexer you have to like reading non-fiction and be prepared to work on a wide range of subjects, not just your special interest. Some indexers come from a library or archives background, but many others just found out by accident that they might have what it takes. There are some exercises you can do to see if you might be suitable. As with any freelance work you have to be organised and disciplined and a little bit of a self-starter but then there are the up-sides of freelance working in that you can turn down work you don’t like and can take jobs to fit around your other commitments.