Do you know how to use an index? I can hear many of you chuckle at the thought of any adult who completed college or even high school not using an index. But I meet people all the time who don’t even know the difference between a table of contents and an index. You’ll notice that I clarified the differences in my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. I also describe and explain the foreword, epilogue, glossary, preface and so forth (pages 188-192 of the 2007 edition).
For those of you who have been out of school for a long time and who don’t typically use nonfiction books as research tools, the table of contents introduces the chapters in an organized manner in the front of the book. The index (or subject index) is a more detailed alphabetical list of key words related to the subject/theme of the book. The table of contents generally gives chapter titles and, sometimes, subheads. But the index breaks the book down into minute subjects. You might read the chapter in my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, called, “How to Approach and Work With an Agent or a Publisher,” or “The Self-Publishing Option,” but you want to know more about locating an intellectual properties attorney, soliciting library sales or how to write a query letter. This is when you go to the index at the back of the book. Here, you’ll find around 600 alphabetized entries and many hundreds of sub-entries on subjects from getting permissions to word count; from how to have a successful book signing to how to promote a novel; from newspaper directories to research techniques; from advances to book trailers.
I have authors contact me every week asking me questions that are clearly outlined in The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. Yes, many of these folks own this book. They spent $19.95 to purchase it in order to learn how to write the right book for the right audience, write a book proposal, choose the best publishing option for their project, understand their responsibility as an author, plan their marketing strategy, work with distributors and all else that goes with becoming a successful author. It’s all there, yet, they email me in desperation asking, “Do I need a book proposal for a novel?” “Should I send my manuscript to a publisher before the final edit?” “How do I determine the genre of my book?” “What’s the best way to locate an agent?”
Sure, you can’t remember everything that you’ve read in a 340-page book—especially one that goes into as much detail on important topics as The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. And that’s why I designed it to be a reference book that authors can use forevermore. The index, of course, is part of that plan; as is the Resource List on pages 302-315.
The next time you have a question on a topic related to publishing or authorship, reach across your desk and grab your copy of The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. Thumb through the index and see if you can locate the answer. If not, of course, contact me. I’ll be glad to help: PLFry620@yahoo.com. To order your copy of this 5-star book, go to http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html or http://www.amazon.com