Indexing is done in a variety of different ways, and therefore is charged for in a variety of different ways. These fees are per-page, hourly, or a combination of per-page and hourly.
Many indexers charge solely by the per-page method. Each indexable page in a manuscript, if it has text or illustrations on it, is included. At Wright Information, per-page fees can be arranged ONLY for manuscripts in final page proofs. The amount charged per page is figured by the depth of the material (complex or beginning levels) and by the size of the pages (large vs. small page size).
In order to be billed at a simple per-page rate, a client must submit sample pages for evaluation. These pages must come from an interior chapter of a book, not introductory material.
A simple per-page rate only covers indexing a book that has its final page breaks set. In other words, if a book changes after being handed off for indexing, additional fees will be negotiated for incorporating those changes into the index. This is due to the amount of extra work entailed in re-evaluating the new or changed material against the existing indexing, and updating all page references to match. Simple page number increments are easy to accomplish when a book's pagination is off, or divider pages were inserted throwing off the page numbers. Often, however, pages roll by only a few paragraphs or sentences, or throw the book off in half pages, and this kind of page number updating requires checking each entry on the affected pages. Additional fees are charged for updating the indexing when these changes happen.
A per-page rate only covers indexing from author-supplied page proofs. Downloading large files or printing author-provided files are charged for separately.
When a project is expected to have a lot of changes to its text, and due to scheduling constraints indexing must be begin using a draft form of the book, hourly rates are charged. This is due to nature of working with changing text, which must be re-evaluated against existing indexing, and having to update the index file to match the new or changed materials. Some publications go through several sets of revisions before being finalized - a per-page fee does not cover the extra work involved, and so therefore cannot be applied.
Online projects, which are usually based on topics rather than pages, also are billed at hourly rates, due to the variety of topic sizes and depth, and the knowledge and tools required to build such technically-demanding indexes. Taxonomy and controlled language projects are hourly-fee projects, due to the nature of the knowledge base.
Embedded indexes - indexes coded directly into PageMaker, Frame, or Word files, and then compiled - are usually billed at hourly rates, due to the fact that the "pages" don't really exist in a final countable form until right before the book goes to press, so a per-page rate would be very hard to calculate. In Word files, for instance, one printout could be as much as five pages shorter than a different printer's output, due to differences in the printer driver's pagination. How many pages are included therefore becomes hard to calculate.
Embedding projects also require the indexer to own copies of expensive DTP products, know the products inside and out, keep them updated, own a machine that is capable of handling publication files, and spend time downloading and uploading large files. File corruption, missing fonts, incompatible printer drivers, and other troubleshooting can take time to resolve, also making a per-page rate unfeasible.
Embedded indexes for books that are in final form can be billed at a combination rate. If the book is in final form with its pages broken, the index can be built at a per-page fee, and then embedded at an hourly rate. This combination fee only works if the book is in final form, not draft form.
Jan C. Wright
Wright Information Indexing Services
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