Becky Hornyak, Indexer 
   Home      For Would-Be Indexers

Considering a Career in Indexing?

Characteristics. Qualities needed in an indexer according to G. Norman Knight, in Indexing, The Art of (Allen & Unwin, 1979):

   · An orderly mind

   · Infinite patience

   · Ability to approach the book as a reader would

   · Common sense

   · Imagination

   · General knowledge above average

   · Good memory

   · Insight into the meaning of the author

To this list I would add:

   · Excellent reading comprehension

   · Ability to work without supervision, and with little or no feedback

   · Ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines

   · Flexibility (for the many times schedules change)

Exploration. Look at the website of the American Society for Indexing at Find an indexer and email that person to see if she/he is willing to share information with you about becoming an indexer. Consider also the Indexing Books as a Career MOOC at
Training. Take a course in indexing.  The American Society for Indexing offers a three-part self-study course in indexing, and UC Berkeley has an online course. Join one of the indexing mailing lists. Read indexes. Review a chapter and then see if the terms you think should be in the index are there. Ongoing training is provided at ASI chapter meetings and conferences.

Practice. One of the benefits of taking a course is that you’ll have completed several indexes, at least one of which may be used as a sample. You could also create an index for a book that doesn't have one. Compare your work to someone else's by writing an index for a book that has one (no peeking before finishing!) You will occasionally be asked for a sample of your work, and this is another way to have something to offer. Volunteer your services to a library, historical society, or similar organization.

Join ASI. ASI is a great resource for both beginners and experienced indexers. The Web site offers information on training, local chapters, the annual conference, as well as the Indexer Locator. Attending local meetings is a great way to network. Chapters frequently offer educational programs, as well as networking. You might also be able to find a mentor through meeting with other indexers.

Business education. Most likely, your business will be a sole proprietorship, and you will be responsible for record-keeping, paying quarterly self-employment taxes (and perhaps health and disability insurance premiums), and filing annual tax returns. Attend a free seminar by the Small Business Administration, or find a course on operating a home-based business. Research whether you need a business license for your city or county.

Software. Three dedicated indexing software products offer demo versions. The ASI website has information on all of them. You’ll need software to keep track of business expenses and income. There are also many additional programs that are real time-savers.

 Marketing. Do you have the patience and persistence to market yourself, whether by cold-calling or emailing? Every contact you have with a client or another indexer requires a professional image. Look at some of the websites that indexers use to market their services, as well as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It usually takes new indexers several months of marketing to find that first client and several years to gain enough clients to be able to work full-time as an indexer.
Copyright 2018 by Becky Hornyak

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