Roberts Indexing
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Book Indexing Services

Roberts Indexing Services exists to help authors improve their books and sell more of them. It exists to assist publishers in producing a high-quality product. And it exists to help readers select great books and find the information they need in those books.

What a Professionally Written Index Looks Like

You might not know what a great index should look like, but you sure know it when you’ve got a bad one, right? A bad one has entries with long, long strings of page numbers; a great one breaks down the entry into helpful subentries. A bad index makes you guess which is the best way to look something up; a great index includes cross-references that guide you to where you wanted to go. To put it simply, a bad index is a PITA; a great index is such a breeze you barely notice.

When I see an index that looks like this:

limp, 55–58, 69, 78, 95, 97, 163, 164, 171, 172, 176, 180, 182, 183, 191, 201, 204, 221, 232, 234, 252, 258, 263, 269, 270, 273, 277, 297, 298, 327
limped, 57, 58, 137, 171, 234
limper, 57, 146
limping, i, iv, 55, 56, 58, 77, 172, 201, 234, 297, 298
limps, 57, 146, 172, 298

I naturally want to help and make it look like this:

limping, 95, 97
       with aces and kings, 327
       at an aggressive table, 233–34
       and big blind is short/weak, 221
       defined, 55
       and flat-calling a reraise, 232
       and the Gap Concept, 55–56, 58
       hand quizzes, 163–64, 172–73, 179–83, 191, 201, 270, 277
       and move-ins, 252, 258, 263, 273
       in Omaha high-low-split eight-or-better, 56, 171–72, 204
       questions and answers, 297–98
       risks, 55
       in seven-card stud, 56, 58
       in sit ’n go’s, 269
       and the System, 137
       when to limp, generally, 55-57, 69

Which would you rather have in your book?

The Process

One of the questions I’m asked most often by authors who haven’t worked with an indexer before is about the process. Here’s how it works:

Step 1. We start by discussing the audience for the book, level of indexing desired, the fee, and any special needs, such as an index of names that’s separate from the subject index, a tight deadline, or what have you.

Step 2. To begin writing the index, I need final page proofs of the book, in PDF format (hard copy is not needed). You do not need to prepare a list of key words. I then read the entire book—I don’t skim or merely search for terms—and determine what’s important to index. For example, for an art book, I would index artists and their works, historical context, styles, possibly collectors and museums, and concepts. Obviously, for a cookbook, I would be looking for very different things.

Step 3. I submit a draft of the index to you, along with detailed instructions for making corrections, a list of any queries I had, and a list of any typos I spotted in the book.

Step 4. I make corrections, answer any questions about the index, and submit a final index.

Step 5. Unless the fee has been prepaid, I send you an invoice. Payment is due within 30 days of receipt of the invoice. I accept checks and all major credit cards.

These are just a few of the areas and materials I index:

  • art history
  • biographies and memoirs
  • computer books
  • cookbooks
  • field guides
  • history
  • how-to books
  • literature
  • natural science
  • ornithology
  • periodicals
  • philosophy
  • reference
  • technical manuals

The best way to see what I do is . . . well . . . to see what I do. Here are samples from indexes I’ve written over the years. Clicking “view index” will automatically download a PDF sample of the index. None of the PDF files are larger than 100 kilobytes.

Love Cycles, by Linda Carroll (New World Library)
view index

Hidden Solutions All Around You, by Daniel R. Castro (Beartooth Press)
view index

Battling for Hearts and Minds: Memory Struggles in Pinochet’s Chile, 1973–1988, by Steve J. Stern (Duke University Press)
view index

Classic Chic: Music, Fashion, and Modernism, by Mary E. David (University of California Press)
view index

InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge (Terrace Publishing)
view index

Rescued: Saving Animals from Disaster, by Allen and Linda Anderson (New World Library)
view index

Still have questions?

Doesn’t an index just repeat what’s in the table of contents?

A table of contents gives you the big picture of what’s in the book, whereas the index gives you the nitty gritty, arranged alphabetically and concisely. An index is a representation of all the pertinent information in the book—a type of information architecture, if you will.

Why do books need an index?

  • Potential buyers and bookstore browsers will use the index to decide whether to buy the book.
  • Readers will use the index to find information quickly and painlessly.
  • Librarians and educators will use the index to decide whether to acquire or adopt the book.
  • Book reviewers will use the index to decide whether to recommend the book.
  • Experts in the same field will use the index to judge the book’s completeness.

Isn’t indexing automated nowadays?

Indexing programs are valuable tools that indexers use, but they do not take the place of a human indexer, who can analyze the text. A computer program can no more write an index than a pencil can write a book.

Should I index the book myself?

Many authors enjoy indexing their own books and have a knack for indexing, which is a specialized form of textual analysis and technical writing. Others don’t. Deciding whether to hire an indexer is a lot like deciding whether to hire a plumber. Your decision will be based on many factors: how much you know about the work, whether you have the time to do the job, whether you enjoy that sort of work, and so on.

As a professional indexer, I can lift many of your burdens, because

  • I will know what your publisher requires,
  • I will have the experience needed to meet the tight deadline that is so typical for this phase of the book production,
  • I will free up your valuable time, and
  • I will tend to produce a more objective index.

How do we get started?

Just use the contact page to get in touch and let me know a little about your book, your time frame, and any additional questions you have.

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