Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions on how to go about indexing a book. Yesterday I finished with a first pass over the manuscript. While I certainly have a clearer appreciation of those of you who suggested I hire a professional indexer, I can’t tell you how happy I am that I decided to do it myself. The decision was made easier by the fact that right now I simply can’t afford such a service.
Yes, it is back-breaking work, but I now see it as an essential part of the process. The indexing of key terms is pretty straightforward, but it’s the indexing of concepts that requires careful thought. One reader encouraged me to construct the index as a road map of the book or to ask what I want the reader to be able to easily find. While I could certainly offer suggestions to an independent indexer as to what headings and sub-headings to use, it goes without saying that no one has a better handle on the overall structure and argument of a book than its author. This same reader also encouraged me to make it possible to find information under different headings and even shared that he first looks at the index to get a sense of the book’s focus. To be honest, I’ve never thought of an index in such a way. Again, thanks for all the suggestions.
In the end, I am not sure that what I came up with is superior to what a professional could produce. Still, I am glad that I took a shot at it. The plan is to sit on it for a few days, review what I’ve done and send it to the publisher on Wednesday. Hopefully, the next time I hear from them will be in the form of a box of books.