The book is finished and is ready for the press. It has an elegant layout and a beautiful cover, it has survived numerous revisions and the criticism of reviewers. It looks perfect, but at this final stage of production, an editor asks about one more thing: an index. This may come as a surprise, as most authors know very little about indexing. They are unsure about the value of an index, and are reluctant to add it to their books, especially when they learn that it comes with a price tag. Below are a few reasons to give an index a second chance.

Books with an index are sold better. This was discovered by book traders in early modern England. Believe it or not, in the 21st century book buyers are still making their purchasing decisions, often unconsciously, based on the presence of an index. This is equally true for individual buyers, as well as vendors, and acquisition librarians.

Books with an index look more attractive. Indexing is an art, not a technique. Just like creative writing, an index could be not only informative, but also beautiful. It creates order and structure, revealing the main subjects of the narrative, and guiding readers straight to the point, and it does so in an effective and intelligent manner.

Books with an index speak with authority. An index is like a certificate of authenticity. It testifies that a book is an object of intrinsic value, and that it is going to stay in the realm of knowledge for a very long time.

Whatever your views on the value of indexing are, it is worth to remember one thing – indexers are your friends, not your foes. They are not here just for the money. They care about your books, and they want them to be successful. Never hesitate to approach indexers. Their knowledge and resources may be invaluable.

Just give it a try.

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sergeySergey Lobachev is a free-lance book indexer specializing in history, archaeology, biography, politics, current affairs, religion, and media studies. He works with academic presses and trade books publishers across North America and UK, as well as with independent authors. He is a member of the American Society for Indexing and the Indexing Society of Canada. Information about his services and rates can be found at