Indexing

I’m working on the index for Building the Land of Dreams. It’s tedious work; you just read through the book, page by page, listing all the terms, people, places, ideas, events, etc, on each page that are indexable terms, and gradually an index forms. But it’s also satisfying, in a strange geeky way. It’s a great way to think about what the book is about and to get an overview of the mass of content that fills these 400 (or so) pages.

Naturally you can’t do the index until the page proofs are done, because you have to have the actual page numbers to refer to. So it’s traditionally one of the last parts of the process. Some authors get to hire professional indexers, but I didn’t want the money for that coming out of my end, so I’m doing it myself. I’ve been looking at a lot of Indexes lately. There are a surprising number of creative choices to be made while indexing. The index to Sean Wilentz’s Rise of American Democracy (also one of my favorite books, not surprisingly) is truly a masterpiece, an indexing tour de force.

While indexing I’m also proofreading for any last minute changes and errors that have slyly survived until now. I did find one sentence that was an absolute grammatical disaster. I estimate there will be about a dozen changes in the whole book.

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