Good Indexes Sell Books!
Indexes do sell books. But beware: all indexes are not the same. A good index contains all the important topics, subtopics and cross references in a meaningful order.
According to Nancy Mulvany in Indexing Books, “a good index retains the author’s terminology, while anticipating the language of readers that may differ from that of the author, and anticipates the expectations of different readers. In other words, an index does not exist independently of its audience.”
A good index is also an indication that a book is meant to be taken seriously by reviewers. In an NPR radio interview San Diego Tribune book reviewer and books editor Arthur Salm once said, “A nonfiction book without an index has no heft. I pay it no attention.”
“Book indexing is something you will either enjoy or detest; there is little middle ground,” Mulvany also (says). “You will have a knack for it or you won’t. I do not believe indexing can be taught… a very important aspect of this work comes down to the individual indexer’s judgment and communicative abilities… Like other types of writing, it is a mixture of art and craft, judgment and selection.”
In How to Make Money from Home, Peter Farrell says, “Indexing work is not recommended to those who lack an orderly mind and a capacity for taking pains. A good index is a minor work of art but it is also the product of clear thought and meticulous care.”