Freelance indexing utilizes many skills. You donít have to be an expert in every one of them to begin indexing. This quiz lets you know what characteristics and skills you need to acquire as your business develops.

Organizing concepts

  • Do you like puzzles and figuring things out?
  • Do you like to have things (clothes, spices, tools) arranged according to how you use them?
  • Do you pay attention to detail?

Indexing involves reading non-fiction books, deciding what information is important, summarizing it, and grouping related concepts together. The ability to conceptualize ideas and organize concepts is crucial.

Working independently

  • Do you prefer to go to others for guidance or to work on your own?
  • Do you need to get feedback from others to get a sense of satisfaction from a project?
  • Do you like to be around colleagues while you work?

If you hate having someone look over your shoulder, indexing is for you. Most publishing clients know little about indexing. You get almost no supervision or feedback. You must be able to learn on your own and work independently.

All work is done at home. In most locations, you can meet other freelancers through professional organizations. There is a lively discussion group on the Internet.

Managing time and money

  • Do you want to set your own hours and priorities?
  • Can you adapt to sometimes having to work intensively and other times not having a project?
  • Are you able to meet deadlines?

The world of indexing covers a wide range of fees and schedules. Fees range from $15 to $50/hr, from which you have to pay all your own benefits, including time when you have no work. The average indexer probably makes an annualized income of around $30,000-35,000 after benefits ($30-35/hr). Schedules vary from 10-12 hrs/wk for university presses to very demanding deadlines for high-tech companies. In general, the higher the fees, the more demanding the schedules. Jobs are short, ranging from 2 to 6 weeks, so you can take time off in between projects, during the summer, etc. You can combine indexing with another pursuit, such as a part-time job, caring for family members, or an avocation. You set your priorities, whether itís higher fees, easier schedules, or more interesting subject matter. You can move to different market sectors as your lifestyle changes.

Marketing your services and negotiating fees

  • Can you initiate and follow up on professional contacts?
  • Can you keep trying if you donít hear from people youíve contacted?
  • Can you ask for what you want in a negotiating situation?

There is someone at every publishing house whose job it is to hire freelancers. Almost all book indexes are created by freelancers. (A few are done by authors. Software manuals are usually indexed by tech writers, but technical indexing is a growing field.) Publishers do not have indexers on staff, so all indexing work is available to you as a freelancer. You can work with clients all over the country. Indexers are scarce Ė mainly because most people have never heard of it!

But it does take effort to market your services. You must choose a field of interest, find out who publishes in that field, and send letters to the right person. Once you have clients, they will continue to call you, but it never hurts to make marketing efforts. Each contract is negotiated. Most people find marketing and negotiating intimidating. Marketing and negotiating are valuable life skills that can be learned! It is a matter of knowing what you have to offer and asking for what you want.

Learn how to become an indexer

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