Needed: Book Indexer

The pages of The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film are coming back to me with the request to build an index for the book, and I just don’t have time at the moment to do it myself. So this is an ad: I need someone to create an index for my book. The gig entails going through every page of the book, noting names of filmmakers, films, studios & etc., and then entering them into an Excel document. It’s dead simple drudge work but it requires an eye for detail. The job would start NOW and would need to completed asap. I currently have seven chapters out of nine in formatted pdf form to work with; the other two chapters will come fairly shortly (this means as a bonus and a consequence of the work, you’d get a sneak preview of the book).

Payment: $10/hr. There will be a cap to the total payout (because I’m not made of money) which we can discuss. I don’t know if $10/hr is decent pay for something like this, but it’s what I can offer. Payment can be sent upon completion by personal check, money order or through Paypal.


1. Writing/editing experience vastly preferred (if you’ve ever created a book index, obviously, you jump to the head of the list). Please list recent references.

2. Access to a pdf reader (preferably one that will let you cut and paste text into an Excel document as this will save you an immense amount of time typing).

3. Access to Excel or a program that makes Excel-compatible spreadsheets.

4. The ability to work quickly and accurately with absolutely minimal supervision (which is to say I need this done in the next several days and don’t have the time to make sure you’re actually doing the job).

5. The ability to start immediately (i.e., Wednesday 6/2/05).

Naturally, in addition to getting paid I’d also place you in the acknowledgements of the book, and I’ll also send you your own copy.

This is a serious work request and it’s on a compressed schedule, so please don’t apply unless you have the time to do it now, the ability to work independently, and a copyeditor’s eye for detail.

How to apply: Send me an e-mail with your qualifications and your phone number, as well as when I can call to chat with you about the work; please note your time zone (don’t apply in the comment thread to this post — send an e-mail). Hopefully I’ll make a decision in the next day or so (for the record: It’s now 9:30 ET on 6/1).


Update, 12:04am 6/2/05 — The position is filled! Thanks to everyone who applied.

8 Comments on “Needed: Book Indexer”

  1. Ooooh. Let me look at that.

    People should still apply, however. It’s only a small chance I will be able to understand the program.

  2. Hmm, I thought about this for a minute — but wouldn’t it be better to have “teams” of people to do it? That’d increase accuracy (where one team can check another team’s results) and reduce total workload.

    I’m pretty sure people would be willing to do it for free, given your reader based. :-)

  3. Ugh, indices are the worst. The conversations around here go something like this: “Hey, we should put all this stuff in a book! I’d use such a book on a daily basis” “Yeah, but we’d have to make an index for the book otherwise it’d be ‘teh suq’ as the kids like to say these days” “Oh yeah, forgot. No book then.” (The alternate ending is “No problem. Why do you think we have graduate students?” but thats not funny.)

  4. I do indexes on a regular basis, along with hyperlinks and glossaries. First, spend money on Adobe’s Framemaker. (Or find someone, like me, who’s a tech writer and has a copy to use.) Convert entire document into text. Drop into Framemaker. Then just go through the document, dropping markers at every word you want in the index. Framemaker compiles it all for you. Done. Doing the index on a 200-page document usually takes me about an hour or so. Conversion, maybe another hour, if you don’t want anything fancy.

    But then, I also then print to a postscript file, distill it into searchable PDF, and email it to a client. I imagine you want it to remain a word document at the end, with index in some kind of format for your publisher?

  5. It is possible to have fun with a task like this. My favorite index is the one for Common LISP: The Language by Guy Steele. Even to begin with this book is more readable than most programming reference manuals. But then there’s the index, which includes references to a variety of foods, all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Michelangelo the ninja turtle is distinguished from Michelangelo the artist, who’s also listed), and the best entry in any index ever:

    “kludge 1-973”

    (The book, up to the index, is of course 973 pages.)

  6. Wow.. the 2.5 hour candidate search. It takes most companies that long to decide they need to hire someone at all. HR directors everywhere are green.

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