Interview with Ken Hassman, professional book indexer

Ken Hassman is a good friend of mine; he owns his own book indexing company, Hassman Book Indexing Service. I decided to ask him for an interview. Book indexing is an art form – not everyone can do it. Ken has created indexes for some of the biggest names in publishing, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, McGraw Hill and many others.

1. How did you get into this business and how long have you been indexing books?

My indexing career began with a chance encounter at a friend’s daughter’s wedding, where I met old friends I hadn’t seen in years. As I caught up, I discovered that they had a really successful index business.

When they said that to me, I said exactly what people say to me: “Indexing, what is that?” They gave me the same answer I’ve given many times since: “Indexes, you know, those things at the end of books.”

They asked me if I would like to learn the art/skill of indexing and they supported me during my last two years as a teacher with paid jobs for the next two years. Good friends that they are, after more than two years they offered to help me build my own indexing business and introduced me to some of their clients.

2. When did you decide to become self-employed?

In March 2005 I had to let the school board in the district where I taught know if I would be coming back next year and I decided that I had served my usefulness and with the blessing of my friends and indexing mentors in June 2005 my resignation submitted.

3. For which publishers have you done indexing work?

Two of my main publishing clients for about 4 years have been Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press. I have a great relationship with a variety of production editors at both publishers, and both send me indexing work directly and/or have writers contact me.

In addition, I have indexed many books for Cengage Learning, ABC-CLIO (formerly Greenwood Publishing Group), Springer, Wiley Blackwell, World Net Daily Books, New Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, WestEd, and International Society for Technology in Education.

4. How important is an index to the success of a book?

Based on comments I’ve received, indices are considered quite important. Many booksellers will stop thinking about selling non-fiction books if they don’t have an index.

5. What do you think are the biggest obstacles in your industry today?

A lot of what is happening in the publishing world is being outsourced to India and for freelancers like me this has caused a huge shift in the amount of work we are getting. Some of the publishers I’ve worked for have expressed sadness that they feel sorry for the US-based freelancers they’ve worked with for years and hope that the work will eventually make its way back to the US finds

6. Do you bill on an hourly basis or by order?

Most indices are based on a rate per page. I can get a book and be asked to create a medium density index, which means 3-4 index entries per page, and be paid a fee of $3 per page. I can be asked for a sparse index of 1-2 index entries per page and paid a fee of $2-2.50 per page, and I can be asked to index a single-topic encyclopedia, what about Requires 15 index entries per page to be paid at a cost of $7 per indexable page. As you can see, there is a wide range.

7. Do you have any advice for authors considering an index?

Indexing is a lengthy, labor-intensive process. It’s much more than just creating a “noun” concordance with a long list of undifferentiated localizers (just page numbers with no qualifying subentries). Authors will know their material much better than an indexer, but indexers have the skills that allow them to go through the material and create relationships that make sense to an end-user.

More and more publishers today require authors to create their own indexes. I’ve noticed that since this policy went into effect, I’ve been getting a lot more direct calls from authors asking for help over the past six months.

If you require an index, please call or email Ken at Hassman Indexing Service; he is always happy to answer. Ken loves talking to authors – that’s how I met him! I learned a lot about indexing and how important it is to make a book successful.

You can also see his blog Hassman Indexing on Blogger.

Thanks to C. Pinheiro | #Interview #Ken #Hassman #professional #book #indexer

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