The publishing process can be long and drawn out. The current pandemic situation has caused a number of publishers to revise their publication schedules and push back publication dates for some titles. Various reasons such as delays in the editorial process, delays in print production, and lack of opportunities for promoting titles have all been suggested, among others.
Indexing usually happens right near the end of the publication schedule. If your non-fiction book has been pushed back for any reason, please think about your indexer for a moment.
If you have already contracted an indexer – please let them know about the delay and keep them updated as you get news from your publisher. We can usually juggle schedules a bit, but we aren’t mind readers. Many indexers will already be keeping in touch with their clients because that’s a professional thing to do, so please reply, even if you have no news, and contact your indexer if you haven’t heard from them. If a gap opens up in our schedule we might need to fill it with other work or we might need to contact other clients who were in the spot you now want if your title is pushed back.
If you haven’t already contracted an indexer – get one on board, even if it seems like it is going to be a long time until they need to work on your index. Having an idea of a schedule that stretches up to 3 or 4 months (or more) into the future helps us plan our workload and our opportunities for doing other things. Please don’t leave it too late, we would hate to turn your book down because we don’t have time in our schedules.
The Society of Indexers has had to cancel this year’s National Indexing Day event for editors because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a great shame because we love meeting editors and talking about indexing. However, all is not lost, and we will still be promoting indexing in the virtual world next week. Join us on Twitter @indexers or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SocietyofIndexers/ for more.
But if you’ve every wondered about doing some indexing, why not try our competition, https://www.indexers.org.uk/news/indexing-competition-2020 and it’s open to anyone who is not a member of an indexing society and is not working (and has never worked) as an indexer in a professional capacity.
Best of luck and hope we get lots of entries.
Having attended all the Society of Indexers’ conferences since 2014, taking in Cirencester, York, Birmingham, Oxford and Lancaster, it’s my turn as Chair of the society to invite members and other interested parties to our event in London in September. You can find out more on the Society of Indexers’ website.
I don’t get away with just meeting and greeting and having fun, I’m down to speak to new indexers.
I’ll be talking about
- finding first indexing jobs
- marketing to publishers
- other possible clients and where to find them
- dealing with potential clients
- how to ask questions to find out what they really want
- quoting – what are the options
- doing the job –
- approaching a whole new book,
- using software
- keeping records,
- checking the index and sending it off,
- feeding back comments and questions to the editor/client
- reviewing the process
But, if there’s anything else you think I should be covering, just let me know in good time before the conference.
For 2016 Author Robert McCrum has compiled a list of the 100 best non-fiction books. These are “key texts in English that have shaped our literary culture and made us who we are”, in the Anglo-American English language tradition, the list covers “essential works of philosophy, drama, history, science and popular culture”.
Number 11 is The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Some things to look at in this index:
- The introductory note explains that the index can be used to look up references in the bibliography as well as in the book, the numbers in brackets refer to the bibliography. So – acquired characteristics 23 (139). That could be useful.
- The introductory note also says that common terms are not indexed every time they appear, and so they shouldn’t, but only in special places such as where they are defined. For example the term ‘allele’ has only one page number and a reference to the bibliography, but occurs in several other sections of the book. I’d have to read a bit to see if that means there are too few page numbers in the index.
- Most of the terms are not plurals. It can be tricky sometimes to consider if a term should be singular or plural nouns in an index. The rule of thumb is if it can be counted it should be plural, but if you say ‘how much’ then it is singular. The index should be consistent and the indexer should be aware of the context of the words to decide if a singular form is more appropriate than a plural. The index is consistent, so for example the types of animal mentioned in this index are singular.
The book has a relatively short index, only 7 pages for over 300 pages of text. The publisher may have decided that this was not to be a reference book and the lightness of the index reflects that.