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NOVICE NOTES

Novice Notes
on this website

Resources

Let me Talk You Out of Indexing

Process of Indexing a Book

The Business End

Marketing Yourself

Peer Review Example

HomePage

Martha Osgood
Indexer
541.484.1180

To find these Novice Notes again, you can:
• google "novicenotes" (all one word)
• bookmark this page
• remember my home page and scroll wa-a-ay to the bottom and click on the "nn" link

THE BUSINESS OF INDEXING

This is a set of ideas aimed toward preparing oneself to do Indexing as a professional. Consider which of these ideas make the most sense to you (add more of your own), then prioritize them (in writing) into your own informal business plan. Use this page as a starter template for your own goals and ideas as you create your own business plan. Or get help at the local community college to write a formal business plan. If you know where you want to go, you can get there easier and better by mapping out How, When, and Why in detail. When you've thought it out, you'll be able to distinguish true opportunities from red herrings. Some folks might even make a written timeline so that they are not overwhelmed with all the details it takes to prepare for and run a business. The individual process is truly more important than you will know until you go through it yourself and put the information down in writing.

Table of Contents
for this page
:
Preparation and Skill Building Practice Ideas
Business Administration
Pricing Your Work
Productivity Issues
Practice Methods
Reference Collection
Why Indexing

Table of Contents of All Six Novice Notes pages:

1. Resources to help you decide whether you want to index books or not - profiles of indexers in general, ASI, PNW, AUSSI, SI and chapter sites, discussion lists, software sites, indexing courses, income expectations, kinds of indexing, Is Indexing Really for YOU?

2. Let me talk you OUT of it - expenses, equipment, cost of courses, speed of indexing, brain agility ("Quick, give me three perfectly nuanced synonyms for XX"), moonlighting, self motivation, slowness of getting started, marketing yourself, irregular income, most index as supplemental income, organization, details, no feedback...

3. What does indexing look like from the inside? Sample step-by-step process of indexing (not a lesson in indexing), indexing sins, strategy, secret notes to yourself in the draft versions of the software, groups/grouping, other editing processes, timing, deadlines, some aspects are boring and solitary. Consider indexing a whole favorite book (and then asking your friends to use it while you watch) before investing in software or courses...

4. The Business of Indexing - a sample business plan (very informal), what to do between USDA lessons, skill building practice ideas, your desk, administrative background tasks, pricing and productivity, reference books.

5. Marketing Yourself - creative marketing ideas, one of several accepted processes for marketing your indexing business.

6. Peer reviews of indexes for purposes of continuing education, determining one's progress, quality control, submitting a more polished product to a publisher, etc.



PREPARATION and SKILL-BUILDING Practice Ideas


Regarding indexing classes. I personally recommend taking the USDA only if you cannot attend another type of in-person, sit-down class. A six-week course (I'm thinking of the equivalent of 6 sessions of 3-4 hours each with many hours of homework in between) will give you a more thorough grounding in indexing skills than a class on tape, or any other distance learning course. Remember, the immense number of details of indexing such using key words well, following publisher directions, formatting names and subentries is important--but it is the reader-friendly organization/structure of the index, including not having scattered information that is 3/4 of what it means to be a competent professional indexer.

Join the American Society of Indexers - which is not necessary for getting work, but is very useful for getting the journals, for better prices at the national conference and regional workshops. Actually the best advice I have regarding ASI and the regional branches is to "get involved." Volunteer to handle the regional mailing list, lick envelopes, participate on the program committee, chair the SideLights committee, join a SIG, etc. THAT is where you will meet others, get your excitement renewed, make friends that will bring you business in the long run, and help you improve your skills as you talk shop with those friends between workshops. ASI may have a student membership (including KeyWords but without The Indexer journal) for the first two years; take advantage of it.

Find a mentor, official or otherwise - Use Index-L and see whom you “connect” with and initiate short off-list conversations (pick up on something they said and ask for or offer more information, move into a bit about yourself) , go to chapter meetings or even the ASI annual conference and ask people about themselves and how they got started, join the online PeerReview list and trade reviews. Over time, you will find folks with whom you connect and a reciprocal relationship can develop.

Practice sending attachments to all your friends who have different computer systems and mailing programs. PCs and Macs, Eudora, Jaguar, Outlook, Netscape Communicator, Pegasus, etc. Verify that all the diacritics, spaces, and indention survive email transport intact, and that it arrives in a readable fashion. Solve problems when you find them, or figure out alternatives.

Begin collecting items for your own Web Page - it will eventually act as your "brochure".

Lurk on the various indexing lists, practice indexing real books which have indexes to compare your version with.

Index a book at no charge *for a non-profit organization* for practice - Historical societies, museums, fairgrounds employee manuals, etc. Do NOT index for free a real book which should command a real price; that does you no favors in the long run, and harms the field as a whole because that author and all his or her friends will now hunt for a new indexer to get their work done for free - forever. Some of the ASI branch chapters might have a pro bono program where such organizations and a (qualified, prepared, competent) new indexer are matched up.

Take a look at conference seminar write ups - some are at indexing.ning.com

Put what you learn to good use - create a quality control sheet (an ongoing, changing checklist of general reminders to yourself about what to review for in editing your indexes before submitting them.)

For practical details of "Running an Indexing Business", ASI's publication by that title, edited by Janet Perlman, includes a chapter on "Managing your Moonlighting Business", as well as Pilar Wyman's overview of "The Business of Being in Business". It's available from Information Today, Inc. http://www.infotoday.com

Get WordPerfect OR Word - one or the other is important. I have never needed both. Learn to do envelopes and merges in Word or WordPerfect for marketing.


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PRACTICE EXERCISES category


Invent your own too. You can not be too rich or too skinny, nor can you practice too much before starting on a paid index.

1) Find a small book in your field. Enter the index into your software, ignoring all Names (Since names are almost always indexed and so require less decision-making attention on your part, ignore them for this exercise). Re-sort your index into page number order, begin at a middle chapter (page 35?) and analyze that indexer's entries in relation to what you find on the page of the book. Look at function words (of, and, on, for, by), structure of the index (why this way vs another way, what else could that indexer have done), spelling, word order, reasoning behind word choices (what would you have used, what synonyms did that indexer use), and whether you would have done it that way or not--and why.

2) Find another small book in your field, tape that index shut. Index the whole book (WITH names, this time). Spend all the time you want on it. Edit and organize the index into a reader-friendly structure. Check spelling. Check consistency - and consider where not to force consistency. Are you indexing according to key words? Are you using verbs or adjectives incorrectly as main entries? What tenses are your verbs in - are they consistent? Should they be? Which names gave you trouble? Be sure to put in your cross-references and doublepostings and synonyms as you go (or make hidden notes to yourself). Are you taking notes instead of trying to think what a reader would search for? Are you THINKING rather than trying to get by as lazily as possible - are you analyzing concepts, gathering the same ones together, and deciding how to word the entry? Group search on parts of words then look at the collection and see if the locators are spread properly among them, remembering that the greatest sin of poor indexing is "scattered information." Are you thinking AHEAD, knowing what this entry means to the whole and whether you will have to change that entry later... Now edit it again. And again. Shorten the index as much as possible without harming its usefulness. NOW compare it with the index in the book. Since you will not know whether that index is a good one or not (unless it is one of the Wilson Award indexes from the ASI website), you will need to use your best thinking processes and either decide for yourself, or get someone to look your index over and give you feedback.

3) Get a new indexing friend or three and critique each other's indexes. Read the same book and index it, then critique each other. Compare your indexes with those already in the book.

4) DEVISE YOUR OWN PRACTICE and/or repeat #1 - #3 again and again...perhaps with a Wilson Award winning index (there is a list on the ASI website).

Critiqued practice is so important because helps you develop decision-making speed (especially for organization and subentry wordings), helps you learn your software, advances your understanding of what an index COULD be.


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ADMINISTRATION category


1. Choose Business Name, register with State (in Oregon - $12, simple form from the Corporation Commission). The only purpose for this registration in Oregon seems to be that they prevent someone else from taking your business name, and they can send you a teensy business tax bill ($23.00?) at the end of the year. Other states may have other reasons to register. If you definitely don't want anyone else in the country using your business name, there may be (expensive?) ways to register nationwide. Google the name you want to use to see if anyone else is using it already. Note: There are two indexers who have chosen very similar business names (one is singular and a single word, the other is plural and broken into two words). Since they focus their indexing in different areas, they have agreed to guide potential business to each other based on those categories...

2. Online Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) for businesses (I just use my SSN) are now available on the IRS website, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, go to:
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=110292,00.html

3. IRS Small Business/Self-Employed website www.irs.gov.smallbiz consider getting an EIN from the IRS. Employer Identification Number.. Even if you don't have employees, you can use this instead of your SSN when you send your invoice. The IRS web site is: www.irs.gov Apply by the EIN Toll-Free Telephone Service. Taxpayers can obtain an EIN immediately by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line (800-829-4933). The hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. Someone takes the information, assigns the EIN, and provides the number to an authorized individual over the telephone. The EIN instructions at <http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iss4.pdf> and the form is at <https://sa.www4.irs.gov/sa_vign/newFormSS4.do>

4. Choose Logo, graphics, tag line (if any)

5. Create letterhead (use computer so I don’t have to have a batch printed) - though I seldom actually use a printed letterhead. Learn to make envelopes on the computer - WORD is wonderful at this...

6. Make business cards - You’ll feel real if you have real cards to hand out and to enclose in your marketing materials. (Note - after 4 years, I still had a quarter left of my first 1000.) Make outline of confirmation letter/contract/agreement - plan to revise this three or four times over the next weeks.

7. Draft cold-call scripts and cover letters to your target audience(s). Draft a sample script to a Publisher, an Editor, an Agent, an Author -- then revise these all after a week or two. What do you want to say - what will you say? Trust me, the terror of cold calls disappears after the 6th call (ok, the 9th). Focus on making it less of an "I hope you like me" call and more of a "I would like the following info so I can help you out" call. I saw a cartoon years ago that helps me: the commander of the ancient Roman army (shown in the background with their spears and shields) was saying "Not now! I have a battle to fight!" to the machine gun salesman.

8. Create a Specifications Worksheet/Style Sheet - What exactly will you ASK of a potential customer who calls or emails you? What do you need to know to make the index suit them?

9. Get a checking account that is separate! from your personal account. I mean this! Do it!

Possible tax deductible expenses
professional association fees
xxx(include directory listing under
xxxpromotion)
annual conference registration and travel
accountant (for financial advice and
xxxtax preparation)
professional development (workshop
xxxfees and travel)
phone line and/or cell phone
subcontracts
mileage and parking when visiting
xxxclients or meeting with colleagues
xxx(for whatever reason)
furniture (chair, desk, bookshelves,
xxxfiling cabinet, desk lamp)
computer, printer
postage
photocopying & paper
3-ring binders
copy rack
business cards, envelopes...
remodeling a room into an office
per diem at conferences
PO box rental
website hosting
Internet access
domain name registration
reference books
xxx(updated versions & new
xxxpublications)
subject related newsletters
journals where one learns about
upcoming books for
marketing purposes
...

10. Though not necessarily required, especially if you don't plan to have employees, Online Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) for businesses are now available on the IRS website, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, go to: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=110292,00.html. Headliners can now be researched by volume and/or topic. For a complete listing of IRS Stakeholder Partners Headliners, visit the SB/SE website at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102669,00.html.

12. The IRS Small Business/Self-Employed website has a variety of tools - click on www.irs.gov.smallbiz.

13. Design your invoice - If it has the basics, it will work fine. (Name of project, name of person you work with, dates and due dates, costs, your SSN, their address, your address and phone, appreciation, basic terms = some version of "pay me or you can't use it")

14. Begin an ongoing list of questions about indexing, about Cindex, about business issues so you can ask them in indexing groups when you need to, and so you can recognize the value if someone else brings it up on Index-L or at a local peer review.

15. Make a contract. Now simplify it. Remove what doesn't matter to you, add or emphasize what does. Now remove the spec sheet stuff and call the spec sheet an addendum. My Spec Sheet could essentially come down to five items that I care about. Now, combine sentences that go together into paragraphs, prioritize and and simplify those. Get feedback on it. Simplify it again.

16. How will you bid? By the hour, by the job, by the page, by the___? Set up stats to keep regarding these in order to measure your own productivity, the length of time it takes you to index X number of pages, and to see if you are improving your speed. You will want to decide if this is profitable enough to continue doing or not, and you will want to consider what you need to do to MAKE it profitable, such as change your preferred indexing field from philosophy or postmodernism to wine making or high school textbooks. Pretend an editor has called and wants to talk with you about a bid. What will you say?

17. Create storage/retrieval system - I use accordion files and keep one office shelf for old page proofs. When that shelf is full, I give the oldest to an indexing friend to use as scratch paper and for draft index versions.

18. Create Timesheet/Job Log for tracking time, progress, location of indexes (‘Fed Ex’ed it on X Date to Y Publisher’ ), bills, and keep a list of payments and billing/payment dates.

19. Other Editor/Publisher Requirements? Create a file for storing each client's eccentricities (= Ms. Lemon wants two email files sent to her - one with the index attached, the other with the bill attached. Don't send both in one email.)

20. Brochure? I use the WEB Page as my brochure. Others have wonderful print packages.

21. Client response postcards (Nah - No one ever answers these, even when they are stamped)

22. Collection letter, create? Nah - I just send them another bill and a note.

23. Order and LEARN one of the Dedicated Programs - Join the appropriate email discussion list for that program.

24. Set up Office - with markers, several big three-D-ring binders (to hold either 200-300-400 pages), sticky notes, reference books, marketing system, decent chair, computer at right height, page holder (or rack), lighting, printer that works (laser), ...


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REFERENCE LIBRARY category

USE YOUR UNIVERSITY LIBRARY WELL

Mulvany, Indexing Books -
This one is still the best. Just ignore those chapters which are out of date (even though the USDA course does not ignore them).

The short book by Fetters (order from the ASI web page) - Handbook of Indexing Techniques

Wellisch, Indexing from A to Z
Suggest to read after Mulvaney. VERY useful. Different rules (somewhat) than Mulvany because Wellisch is British. Formatted as an encyclopedia.

Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (or newer) - GET THE WHOLE BOOK, not just the booklet that comes with the USDA course. You'll need the whole thing, trust me.

Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia or Websters New Biographical Dictionary - Decide well or get them both. (You can also visit them at the library)

Huridocs--How to Record Names of Persons <http://www.huridocs.org/popnames.htm>.
This is a downloadable PDF (24 pages) that gives detailed instructions on how to file names, including the clearest explanation on Arabic names that I have ever seen. The site is "Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems".


The rest of these are not necessary until they are necessary.

Norman Knight Indexing, the Art of (old [before computers], funny, wonderful, British)

The Literary Marketplace (I spend 2-3 hours at a time at the library with a mechanical pencil, A SMALL (cut-down) SHOEBOX with dividers and 500 index-cards)

A good grammar and usage book (and learn to use it)
Judd, Karen - Copyediting- Book on editing and proofreading -
or
Fowler's Modern English Usage
or
Mark my Words - Book on editing and proofreading -
or
Letter Perfect - Book on editing and proofreading -

Order and read Keywords and The Indexer back three years

Copy and read the indexing standards pages from British Standard - BS 3700:1988, section 6, and others - and the National Standard Guidelines for Indexes in Information Retrieval - ANSI/NISO section Z39.4-199x

People’s Names ($85) Ingraham Publishers is useful, to a point. Actually, it is even more interesting than it is useful, and costs about $85, so maybe you could visit it at the library with a list of foreign names you need to check on.

Definitely subscribe to proofreading, copyediting and indexing listservs - keep the FAQs so that, if you don't like the email discussions, you can get back off easily.

Find online Grammar Hotlines, reference hotlines, email lists and other online reference sites. Go to them and keep a list of them and how they will be useful to you. Find Stumpers-L.

Writer’s Guide - too chatty for me

The Insiders Guide to Book Publishers, etc - Don't buy this one either, just see if it has useful info in it at the library

Go to a Community College’s Business Assistance Team/Library and see what they have to offer or look into SCORE at the Small Business Administration, if I can’t get advice anywhere else first.


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PRICING YOUR WORK

"Unfortunately, setting rates *is* complicated. What it all boils down to is making a reasonable hourly rate, regardless of your per page or per entry rate.

"When I started out I generally took what publishers offered. If my per hour rate came out too low I either asked for a better rate next time, or failing getting that, looked for another client. Of course, this does not solve the problem of quoting a rate for an author or press which does not normally hire indexers. Then, I ask for a 10-page sample from a chapter in the middle of the book. I hate figuring rates, but a sample (plus total page count) is the only way to get an idea of how long the job will take.

"In almost 4 years of indexing I've billed indexes from a low of $175 up to almost $7,500.

"The first was for an easy book of less than 100 pages; the second was a 2000 page medical book. I think the extremes of rates I've charged have been $2/page to $5/per page. Rates lower and higher than that are certainly possible, though there aren't many books easy (quick) enough to index that I'd want to go with $3 or less per page."

Ann

Ann Truesdale
Freelance Indexing Services
anntrue@mindspring.com
www.index-able.com

------

Another way of looking at it is that you want to make


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MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

Formulas for how to arrive at Costs, Time, and Charges

Productivity Goals
The Scholarly field Standard: $4.00-$6.00 per typeset, indexable page but moving toward $6/. Reindexing when pagination changes is an additional $XX/hr. I say this in my contract. (Advice: DO use a contract. I use one for new accounts, new editors, new authors, then refer to it in emails for subsequent books. The emails are then my paper trail, and I often print them out and keep them in the front of the binder with the page proofs).

My first assumption about productivity: Surely I could easily read at least 20 pages per hour and I want $35.00 per hour income. WRONG. Instead: I INDEX (read / mark / enter / edit / proof / edit / proof / edit / proof / edit / proof :||) AT ABOUT 6-10 SCHOLARLY PAGES PER HOUR PER BOOK.

RIGHT: I aim for $XX.00 per hour**, but don't usually make it. I range from $17.00 - $27.00 per hour depending on a) how well organized I am BEFORE starting to index, and b) how difficult or disorganized the book is. (I indexed one book with a title and intro that said one thing, but the book was really a polemic about something else. Once I realized that, I could finally understand what the author was trying, without naming it, to prove. My productivity improved immediately, no thanks to that author.)

Issue: a book will be read 3-6 times in the whole process, the $4/indexable page is a flat rate even if it takes me longer. Bidding should reflect this, but wrong bids are to be “eaten” unless the bid was given for 5-8 entries per page and the book requires significantly more than that per page. No Whining allowed, though, if you don't make your $35/hr. That goal is up to you to reach by making your own good decisions consistently and quickly and by being well-organized from the beginning of the index - and that takes practice.

**NOTE: I don’t actually care that much what I make per hour, BUT YOU MIGHT. Mine is a second, gap income, I love the challenge of indexing philosophy, and the total paid is what I look for. Other indexers completely support themselves by indexing, but they are Very Efficient (they use their software very, very well, making as few keystrokes as possible; they plan their strategies effectively at the beginning of each index; they make decisions wisely and quickly; they have less editing at the end because they entered it correctly at the beginning) - and they are also very experienced (over 8 years). Outstanding productivity didn’t just happen immediately and without effort.

Play with these:

Hourly rate = rate per page X pages per hour
Pages per hour = hourly rate divided by rate per page
Time to plan for = total pages divided by pages per hour
Rate per page = total charges divided by # of pages
Total Charge = $3.00 X # of pages -- or
Total Charge = pages per hour X # of pages X rate per hour

Also consider index density - add # of entries plus # of cross references, divide by the number of pages in the book.

Other productivity calculations:
(The challenge accepted here by Martin Tulic was to figure out how someone could make the $80,000 that 10% of indexers who responded to a survey claim.)

Assume a 250 page book.
Assume its index has 2000 entries (locators/page references).
That's an average of 8 locators/page.
Now assume you're getting $3.50 per page.
You'll make $875 for the index (250 pp x $3.50/per page).
At $70/hour, you can only spend 12.5 hours on the job ($875 / $70).
You'll have to average 20 pages per hour (250 pp / 12.5 hrs --OR-- $70 / $3.50).
20 pages per hour at 8 locators/page => 160 locators per hour (20 pp x 8 locs/pg).
160 locators per hour => 2.67 locators per minute (160 locs / 60 mins).
2.67 locators per minute => 1 locator every .3745 minutes (the reciprocal 1 / 2.67).
1 locator every .3745 minutes => 1 locator every 22.47 seconds (60 secs x .3745).
That's 22.47 seconds per entry to read the text, analyze it, select a term, determine its page boundaries, enter it, edit it, format it, etc.
Hmmmm. If you have any down-time or administrative time or marketing time at all, you'll have to work even faster to average the same money.

Assume you work 8 hours per day.
Assume you work 220 business days per year.
That's 1760 hours per year, the standard for such measurements in the US.
If you work 1760 hours at $70 per hour, you should make $123,200 per year (1760 x 70).
If you work 1760 hours per year and only make $80,000 per year, you're averaging $45.45 per hour (80,000 / 1760).
Hmmm. Perhaps the $80,000 per year income reported by 10% of indexers is their after-tax income.

Or maybe they're part-timers.
If they're averaging $70 per hour and making $80,000 per year, they're only working 1142 hours per year (80,000 / 70).
That's 64% of 1760 hours per year (i.e., they're working less than two thirds of the standard work hours per year).
Because they're working on 64% of the time, they've got be 1.56 times as productive to make the same money (the reciprocal 1/.64).
Given my initial assumptions and 1142 hours of work, their productivity rate must be 1 locator per 14.38 seconds (22.47 / 1.56 --OR-- 22.47 x .64).
Hmmm. That's not bad for part-timers.

Consider these from Martin Tulic:

To make $90/hr at
$3.00/pg ==> 30.0 pp/hr
$4.00/pg ==> 22.5 pp/hr
$5.00/pg ==> 17.0 pp/hr
$6.00/pg ==> 15.0 pp/hr
$7.00/pg ==> 12.9 pp/hr

To complete a 250-page book,
30.0 pp/hr ==> 8.33 hrs
22.5 pp/hr ==> 11.11 hrs
17.0 pp/hr ==> 13.89 hrs
15.0 pp/hr ==> 16.67 hrs
12.9 pp/hr ==> 19.38 hrs

Also, for a 250 page book,
$3.00/pg ==> $750.00
$4.00/pg ==> $1,000.00
$5.00/pg ==> $1.250.00
$6.00/pg ==> $1,500.00
$7.00/pg ==> $1,750.00

Not surprisingly, the lesson is: to survive, you must work very fast or for a very high rate.

The problems with the high rate are that most people aren't getting it and that those who are aren't likely to continue getting it (because indexing is abor-intensive and the labor pool is getting much larger than it was). Therefore, the name of the game is to be fast. Which brings up the point raised in other contexts: there's quick, cheap and good; you can choose any two, but not all three. Which are authors and publishers most likely to choose? Increasingly, it's:
$0.50/pg ==> $125.00
$0.75/pg ==> $187.50
$1.00/pg ==> $250.00
$1.25/pg ==> $312.50
$1.50/pg ==> $375.00
To most people in the world, who live on $1 to $2 per day, page rates like that are great. They're high enough to attract people capable of earning an order of magnitude more than most of their compatriots. They're also low enough to mean that, given the nature of the race, people not attracted by them can't get fast enough to win it. (A doomsayer would say they can't get fast enough to compete.)

Martin Tulic also comments:
You might also want to tell novices that, regardless of whether they actually bill based on per-locator calculations, the calculations are useful for many purposes, including estimating and monitoring jobs. Job estimates must be based in part on an understanding of the level of detail the client expects. I always know, for example, whether the client wants 3-5 locators per page or 10-12. I use that data and locator-based formulas to determine the page rate I'll charge, if that is the billing method the client prefers.

If I get the job, I periodically monitor my progress using the expected locators per page as an early warning system. They let me adjust my output up or down as I go, and they let me know whether the client and I have seriously under- or over-estimated the job long before it's done, which lets us re-negotiate if necessary. They also prevent me from creating hundreds of locators that I've not been paid for, which is apparently common with some indexers. In other words, continual monitoring is necessary because indexing is like other industrial processes - it's necessary to ensure that you achieve goals set beforehand.

Per-locator calculations are also a solution to a chronic problem confronting indexers, which is that clients generally want a fixed rate and they want it even though you seldom get to examine what turns out to be a truly representative sample of the book before you start indexing it. Instead of negotiating a fixed page rate, try using per-locator calculations to negotiate fixed minimum and maximum invoice totals (which cannot be so far apart as to make them unacceptable). Billing based on locator-based fixed totals is more likely to reflect the effort required to complete a job than is billing based solely on the number of pages in the book. It also provides the basis for incremental reporting and billing when working on very large jobs extending over long periods of time (which means that you should not have to work on them for months without being paid).

The claim that nobody's going to pay twice as much for the same text simply because there are twice the entries is definitely true if you don't talk about the expected level of detail beforehand, but it may not be true if you do. If you talk about it before setting a billing rate, you're not likely to end up with an effective rate over time that is half what you thought it would be when you negotiated a page rate. And if you talk about it beforehand, your clients may come to realize that the level of detail they can expect reflects the amount of money they are willing to spend.


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REMINDER OF BENEFITS
(from my business plan- be sure to write out your own)

* portable - Fang and I can travel or even relocate easily
* flexible hours - I can work in the middle of the night when I have insomnia and/or nap during the day
* irregular - I can refuse work, I can quilt/etc during downtimes
* my style - I like to concentrate without interruption for hours, I like the puzzle aspect of indexing
* I like to study/do research
* I'm very good at grammar, proofreading, spelling, details
* it's quiet with few interruptions
* solitary/peaceful - no office politics, or annoying co-employees/supervisors
* computer-based - I enjoy computers, email, and the Internet
* air-conditioned (don't laugh)
* Oregon's economy is one of the nation's "canary economies", so I prefer to count on the better economies of other states for my income
* challenging, and very, very interesting
* controlled by me - I can refuse ridiculous deadlines
* I am limited only by my own abilities/fears/wants/ needs/focus/ goals/logic/stupidity, not someone else's
* countable - I have something to show for my calluses besides a pile of widgets for someone else
* at home - I can do the laundry or baking at the same time as I index, and I often index in my jammies or out in the flower garden
* I can index at my favorite gourmet coffee house if I get cabin fever
* Add your own list here...


Table of Contents of All Six Novice Notes pages:

1. Resources to help you decide whether you want to index books or not - profiles of indexers in general, ASI, PNW, AUSSI, SI and chapter sites, discussion lists, software sites, indexing courses, income expectations, kinds of indexing, Is Indexing Really for YOU?

2. Let me talk you OUT of it - expenses, equipment, cost of courses, speed of indexing, brain agility ("Quick, give me three perfectly nuanced synonyms for XX"), moonlighting, self motivation, slowness of getting started, marketing yourself, irregular income, most index as supplemental income, organization, details, no feedback...

3. What does indexing look like from the inside? Sample step-by-step process of indexing (not a lesson in indexing), indexing sins, strategy, secret notes to yourself in the draft versions of the software, groups/grouping, other editing processes, timing, deadlines, some aspects are boring and solitary. Consider indexing a whole favorite book (and then asking your friends to use it while you watch) before investing in software or courses...

4. The Business of Indexing - a sample business plan (very informal), what to do between USDA lessons, skill building practice ideas, your desk, administrative background tasks, pricing and productivity, reference books.

5. Marketing Yourself - creative marketing ideas, one of several accepted processes for marketing your indexing business.

6. Peer reviews of indexes for purposes of continuing education, determining one's progress, quality control, submitting a more polished product to a publisher, etc.

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Back Words Indexing
Martha Osgood, Indexer
541-484-1180