Wednesday, November 06, 2019

in an indexing space

Last week I was in the editing cave, huddled in a small alcove, confined in order to focus and check the typeset proofs of my forthcoming book.

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With the editing task completed, this week I’m in the indexing space. I have physically moved. I have found another building, complete with a square table, providing room to spread pages of notes and publisher guidelines and how to index articles downloaded from the internet. The square table is in a large space, with a high ceiling. In this space, I feel free, yet still confined enough to focus.

I have never indexed before. I considered hiring a professional. But the articles from the internet shared stories of books outsourced to professional indexers who lacked a feel for the subject area. My book works across a number of disciplines – missiology, empirical research and innovation. So I decided I needed to learn.

I began by defining the task. 1 page of index for 45 pages of writing said the guidelines from the publisher. With my book being 235 pages, that meant I needed 5 pages. Suddenly the task had an end.

I then turned to similar books. I looked at their index and that got me started. I identified key words and that helped me brainstormed more. Typing these words up gave me 3.5 pages of index. Suddenly I was under way.

Next I began at the beginning. I am reading through every chapter of my book. In the margins, as I read, I am noting key words. I am trying to think like the reader, identify words they might be interested in. As each chapter ends, I add the words as page numbers in the index. The index is taking shape.

Time (and reviewers) will tell whether my first attempt is good, or a poor; my decision to do it myself wise or misguided. But I am, to my great surprise, really enjoying the task of indexing. Indexing involves short bursts of concentration, rather than the extended work required to edit a chapter. It is like sprints, rather than a marathon. And there are patterns. I see the patterns emerging as words become linked across pages. It is fun trying to think like a reader.

I have much to do. But I am underway. The indexing space is different from the editing cave and the creative writing cafe.

Posted by steve at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

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