Have you ever felt the frustration of trying to find a fact, recipe, poem, or anything else in a book that doesn’t have a good index? I have, and believe me, it’s not fun. When I wrote my first book, Transcripts Made Easy, I didn’t put in an index (it didn’t seem long enough to require one), but I did offer free e-mail support. When I received questions via e-mail that were clearly answered in the book, I realized I needed an index.
The second edition had an index, which I created in Word. It was better than none, but not by much. By the third edition, I hired a professional indexer, and I noticed an immediate drop in the number of questions about things that had been answered in the book. The lesson? I could have saved a lot of time (and spent it more profitably elsewhere) if I’d had a professional index from the first.
Consulting Editor Alan Rinzler agrees, and makes additional points quite eloquently in his post on the subject. You may read “Every non-fiction book needs an index: Here’s why” at his website, which happens to be an example of a very nicely done professional website. Enjoy!