Looking at your book from another angle

photo-1424274414501-ce96d567b5c5_archWhen you’re thinking of buying a nonfiction book, you probably check the index to see what the book is about before deciding whether to buy it. Librarians and most browsing customers use the index to help make purchase decisions, and researchers use the index to help choose books to read (and later cite). Your book’s index is, therefore, an important component that should be crafted by a professional.

An index may be compared to a map: It tells the reader where to go in the book for particular information. I like to think of indexing as looking at a book from another angle, or even several angles. What is this paragraph or page about? How does it relate to other names or topics in the book? How could a reader reach this information from different entry words?

When I index your book, I will read it with fresh eyes, analyse its contents, and choose search terms that your readers are most likely to use. I will break down larger topics to help your readers find what they want and provide cross references to related topics. I follow the Best Practices for Indexing of the American Society for Indexing.

An amateur indexer might produce an entry such as this one:

Ethiopia, 16, 18–19, 21, 22, 45–46, 53–56, 57–58, 59, 64–65, 68, 69–70, 90, 98–101, 111–13, 113–15, 117–22, 139–42, 142–43, 152–55, 155–57, 157–58, 163–64, 169–70, 195

Imagine your reader having to look up 24 page locators to see what your book has to say about Ethiopia! A professionally written entry such as the following is much more useful:

Ethiopia: administrative divisions 113–15; books on 16; claims in Eritrea 57–58; during Cold War 59; consular courts in s 139–40; attempts to overthrow government 45–46; economic reforms in 98–99; elections in 142–43; under EPRDF rule 139–42; European presence in 18–19, 22; expansion of 21; guerrilla wars in 68; under Italian occupation 53–56, 117–22, 155–57; liberalization of travel in 69–70; nationalism in 98–101; racial discrimination in 152–53; Red Terror 64–65; restoration of monarchy 157–58; state cosmology 152–55, 195; suppression of Muslims in 111–13; suppression of slavery in 90; ulama in 169–70; Yemeni interactions with state 163–64. See also Addis Ababa; Dire Dawa; Orthodox Christians

(From the index that I wrote for Subjects of Empires, Citizens of States: Yemenis in Djibouti and Ethiopia by Samson A. Bezabeh. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2016)

I can index memoirs and biographies, and trade books or scholarly books on a number of subjects, including (but not limited to) crafts, sewing, health, Egypt, the Middle East, Egyptology, Islam, and Muslims. I know basic Arabic and can index transliterated Arabic names and terms, even if they are written with diacritics. I can write traditional back-of-the-book indexes as well as embedded indexes in Word using WordEmbed. The books that I have indexed are listed on this page.