April 2023 Informal Virtual Gathering Recap

Fourteen chapter members came together for an informal virtual gathering led by program co-chairs Amber DeDerick and Sam Arnold-Boyd and past board chair Judy Staigmiller. Judy introduced the chapter officers and volunteers present, including the 2023 board chair, Riley Auge. 

Chapter members shared successes or small wins, challenges they’ve experienced, and new things they’re looking forward to. Personal topics included the pleasure of watching birds at bird feeders, life-changing medical improvements and ongoing health issues, the weather in Seattle in late May (unpredictable), a new greenhouse (congratulations!), and Nanaimo Bars.

Indexing-related topics included the joys of being able to pick and choose projects while retired, the feast-or-famine nature that indexing work often has, and the benefits of having multiple sources of income. A couple members expressed gratitude to the PNW Chapter for remaining strong during the pandemic while some other publishing-related groups have folded.


Tips and resources

  • Chapter member Joanne Sprott, who updated the PNW Chapter website, is available for website work, both for hire and for small questions. 
  • There is a shortage of hard science indexers, so newer indexers with a hard science background may have an easier time finding related work. Science and programming books are more likely to use embedded indexing, 
  • Why don’t indexers don’t talk as much about their genres/niches/specializations as editors do? We do tend to think of legal indexing and medical indexing as their own things, as well as technical indexing, though technical indexers also tend to do other kinds of books. Another possibility is that we’re not as numerous as editors are so may be less likely to break into subsets. ASI’s recent overhaul of the indexer locator includes the ability to indicate more specialties, which may help specialist indexers find each other more easily.
  • You can consider lowering your rates for a project you especially want, but be careful because then you can’t raise them—a publisher might expect you to consistently work for that amount, which may not be feasible.
  • Authors are often in correspondence with multiple indexers, and if you take time to ask questions they may hire somebody else. Several indexers recommended having a template email to send once you have the book’s topic, length, and date available.
    • The template should note that you’re available and give your typical fee range with a caveat for complexity (depends on density of material, etc), which you can narrow down if they send you a representative chapter (usually one from the middle of the book).  
    • Some authors may only need to see the range to give you a yes/no.
    • Some indexers also ask who the publisher is before deciding whether to take the job, since they know from experience that some publishers will fit more on a page, publish more complex books, or have weird requirements (which authors may not know).