Indexing is done in a variety of different ways, and therefore is charged for in a variety of different ways. These fees can be 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 for manuscripts in final page proofs or PDFs. 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).
A simple per-page rate only covers indexing a book that has its final page breaks set in stone. 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.
In order to be billed at a simple per-page rate, a client should submit sample pages for evaluation. These pages must come from an interior chapter of a book, not introductory material.
When a project is expected to have a lot of changes to its text, or scheduling constraints force indexing to be started from a draft form of the book, hourly rates are charged. This is due to the 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 content in topic form 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 technically-demanding indexes. Taxonomy and controlled language projects are hourly-fee projects with a upper cap set through negotiation with the client, due to the nature of the knowledge base and flexibility in the tools required to meet the clients' needs.
Embedded indexes (indexes coded directly into InDesign, Frame, or Word files, and then compiled) are usually billed at hourly rates, due to the fact that there are font issues to resolve, large files to manage, scheduling and process decisions, and more planning involved. A combined rate can be worked out for the extra work, and a per page rate for the content.
Embedding projects require the indexer to own copies of expensive DTP products, know the products inside and out, keep them updated, and own a machine that is capable of compiling large publication indexes. File corruption, missing fonts, incompatible printer drivers, unavailable files, and other troubleshooting can take time to resolve, also making a combined rate more feasible.
Ebook projects with active indexes need consultation on workflows, so that we can develop a process that will work with your tools. Getting the workflow right before beginning will ensure that your ebook index will work. Consultations and testing are billed at an hourly rate, and indexing can be billed per number of words, or hourly.
Wright Information is open to discussing a mixture of set, hourly, and capped rates to meet the needs of your project. Many projects can have preliminary phases of consultation and testing that can be charged hourly, followed by work that can be done on a per unit (page, topic, code, word) basis.
Contact Wright Information at firstname.lastname@example.org.