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My name is Nancy K. Humphreys and I’m now a retired indexer. Wordmaps Indexing services are no longer offered, but I’m leaving my site up in order to serve indexers and everyone else who loves indexing and indexes.

How Much Does an Index Cost?

Pricing for indexes varies widely. That’s because every book, by copyright law, is unique. So is the index for every book. Here’s a partial list of what an indexer considers when pircing for an index:

Basic rate factors

  • Number of pages of your book
  • “Readability” level
  • Simplicity of style and organization of material
  • Subject(s) of your book

Things that may add to your costs

  • Extremely specialized subject matter
  • Academic or technical jargon
  • Foreign-language names and phrases
  • Genre publication indexes, e.g., cookbooks, art books, biographies and autobiographies, product sales catalogs, annual reviews, periodicals, etc.
  • Tables and figures with indexable content
  • Research that requires use of outside reference sources
  • Time allowed for indexing to be done (rush jobs cost more)
  • Number of pages allotted for the index (too few and it becomes a challenge)
  • Problematic formats (e.g., books with no section headings within chapters)
  • “Word lists” (professional indexers do not need these)
  • Extra vocabulary control for books with multiple audiences  who will use different terms to search for identical material
  • Extra vocabulary control for multi-authored books containing articles using different terms for similar topics
  • Extra vocabulary control and formatting for multi-volume works and cumulative indexes.
  • Large numbers of See and See also cross-references
  • Index design, electronic markup, or other special formatting

(Indexers, if you have other criteria for pricing an index, please let me hear from you. Nancy)

Finding a Professional Indexer

If you are looking for a publisher for your book, you know that publishers are fairly strict about the standards for indexing for their books. This is why they will assist authors to find qualified indexers for their books. However, publishers like to keep their own project costs down. For this reason they might not hire the best indexer for your book, and you may not get the kind of index you want.

However, even if you have a publisher, like a self-publisher, you are the one who will ultimately pay for your index (the cost is taken out before you receive any of your royalties), and so you may hire anyone you like to index your book.

When you hire an indexer, I recommend starting with the web sites of professional indexing societies. On these sites you can use the search features to find indexers who specialize in exactly the kind of book you’re writing.

  1. The American Society for Indexing Indexer Locator 
  2. The Indexing Society of Canada/Société canadienne d’indexation “Find an Indexer
  3. British Society of Indexers “Indexers Available
  4. Indexers in Other Countries 

Also, there are special interest groups (SIGs) for indexers. These are listed at the sites for professional indexers. You can also find them by searching for your genre, subject area; or the audience for your book, followed by the phrase “Indexing SIG”. For example: culinary indexing SIG or business indexing SIG. For a complete list of Special Interest Groups of indexers in the United States see SIG Information.

Lastly, every professional society of indexers has regional groups or chapters located in specific areas. You can look for these groups if you want an indexer who is located near you. For example, if you look up Portland, Oregon Indexers you’ll find a site for the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the American Society for Indexing. This group has a searchable Directory of indexers by Specialty on its site.

Do you need a specialist for your book? You may find that you do. I once had an editor from a well-known Institute for Economics call and complain that the indexers he hired only “indexed the words” in his books and not “their meanings”. If you hire a specialist who knows your field or genre well, expect to pay a bit more.

After you find an indexer of interest in a directory or on LinkedIn or other social media site, you may want to check out their individual blog or web site for more information about their experience and their services.Checklist to Use When Contacting an Indexer

Checklist to Use When Contacting an Indexer

Here’s vital data to provide to an indexer:

  • your name
  • title and subtitle of your book
  • estimated number of text pages in the book
  • date you need the index done by
  • date you can send the completed manuscript
  • the primary and secondary audiences for your book
  • your preferred contact method(s) and info (if phone number, include your time zone)

Also, you may want to send a brief abstract of the contents of the book, its cover image, or table of contents to clarify what your book is about.

Not sure if you need an indexer? Think any indexer will do for your book? 

Please see Finding the Right Indexer. This page includes three benefits of hiring a professional indexer and a discussion about how to decide what kind of index and indexer you need for your book.

Want more information about indexers and how to choose the right one for you? 

Please see Wordmaps Indexer FAQSThese FAQS include brief discussions about topics such as: costs of indexing, when an indexer needs subject expertise, and how an indexer can help you promote your book.