Checklist for Contacting an Indexer

When introducing yourself, be sure to mention that you are an author or editor or publisher looking for an indexer. 

Tell the indexer if you are simply looking for a bid to do your index. Some indexers do not want to spend time on authors who are seeking bids on indexing jobs. If you do bid out an indexing job looking for a low price, remember that any pricing information you receive from one indexer is confidential and should not be shared with another indexer. Also, please see my discussion about the importance of the quality of your index at my page about Back-of-the-Book Indexing.

Here is the basic information you need to give an indexer when you first email them or call them on the telephone. Remember to call them during normal business hours only – unless their ad or web site indicates differently.

1.  Your name and contact information 

If you wish you can send your full contact information by email after you’ve telephoned so that the indexer can easily add it to their address book. Be sure to indicate the best way for the indexer to contact you, e.g., telephone, email, Skype, etc.

 2. Title, subject, and genre of your book.

Ask if the indexer has experience indexing this kind of book. For example, scholarly book indexing is quite different than indexing trade books for the general public. The same is true of cookbook indexing, technical book indexing, children’s book indexing, and many other genres of books.

3. How you will publish your book? – mention all that apply

  1. Publisher’s name
  2. Self-publishing – name of  printer/bindery/distributor
  3. Self-publishing – PDF book
  4. Print on Demand (POD) company’s name
  5. ebook version
  6. audiobook version
  7. Other – please indicate

4. Market(s) you plan to sell your book to

This includes demographic information such as age groups, geographical areas of the world, genders or ethnic groups, levels of education, levels of income, occupational groups, religious groups, non-profit groups, etc.

5. Date  the indexer can begin work 

Note that the pages you send to an indexer must be PDF or other fixed-format pages containing the final version of the book’s text. Changes made to the text requiring changes to the index will cost you more later. Final print book and ebook pages should run about 250 words. Don’t try to save money by putting more words on the page – if you do, ebook formatting later will cost more money.

Note; for some books the indexer may be able to begin work without having all pages on hand. Bring this up if you want an indexer to work with partial pages while you are finishing your book. There may be an additional charge for this kind of work.

6. Date you need the indexer to be done

Indexers work at different speeds. Check with your indexer how long they need for your index. Ask if and for how long they will be available after you receive your index to answer questions you have or to make minor changes you request.

7. Mention unusual features in your book

This can include: tables, figures, artwork, appendices, glossary, special paper or size of book, active links that will need to be indexed, your author biography, or front matter that might be indexed.

Most indexers will want to see a few representative pages of your book so they can estimate what creating an index for it will cost. When emailing pages to the index, give the indexer the big picture about your book. Send a table of contents if you have one so they get an understanding of what else is in the book.

(NOTE:  BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE word “INDEX” IN YOUR TABLE OF CONTENTS. This is especially important if you will be creating an ebook version of your book. Otherwise, readers will not know there is an index in your ebook.)