I see this frequently on Twitter and other social media. Academics indexing their own books is a bit like them being asked to sort out their own toilet when it gets blocked. Just because you’re an experienced user, it doesn’t make you an expert on fixing or creating them. My Society of Indexers colleague Dr Tanya Izzard has written a very useful summary, which I see no need to repeat. She covers many of the issues and gives some helpful links if you are an academic thinking about indexing your own book.
- don’t need a list of terms or important people before they start. They’re quite capable of doing that.
- are open to dialogue before they start and once they’ve sent you the index. After all, we want you to be happy with the index.
- won’t take on work that’s outside their area of knowledge, unless it is very basic and for a lay audience.
- don’t like their work being ‘improved’ by editors or authors without being involved. It’s a bit rude really.
- are skilled at what they do
Not everyone who claims to be a ‘professional’ indexer is actually trained and has been assessed as competent. Members listed in the Directory of the Society of Indexers are both trained and assessed. They’ll be happy to discuss your requirements and make a great index to your book.