Frequently Asked Questions


  • What are your operating hours?

    Our operating hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5 pm Eastern Standard Time. You are also welcome to contact us outside those hours and we will get back to you shortly.

  • Can I schedule a phone or Skype meeting to discuss my project?

    Sure! Fill out the contact form and we'll get in touch over email to schedule it.

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Editing Services

  • Which editor will work on my manuscript?

    When we confirm the editing schedule with you and sign the contract, we will match you with the IoF editor whose expertise and schedule best align with your project.

    Our editors and indexers have 36 combined years of editing and indexing expertise in the interdisciplines, humanities, and social sciences, particularly fields like gender and sexuality studies, disability studies, ethnic studies, politics, communication, history, anthropology, sociology, area studies, literary studies, continental philosophy, and education.

  • How do I know if I need developmental editing, copyediting, or proofreading?

    These are the stages a manuscript progress through as it moves toward publication. All manuscripts will need all three types, whether you do them yourself or hire a professional.

    Stage 1: Developmental editing deals with content, so if you are still hammering out your ideas and want feedback on what makes sense, how your argument lands (or whether you actually have one), how to organize your chapters or sections, or what needs to be cut or added, you are at the developmental editing stage.

    Stage 2: Copyediting deals with writing, so if your content is all set but you need help fixing the sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and citation formatting, you are at the copyediting stage.

    Stage 3: Proofreading ONLY happens on typeset page proofs issued by a publisher. It is a last-chance review of your proofs for typos, formatting errors, citations, and inaccuracies before the manuscript gets sent to the printer. If you are working on Microsoft Word pages, you need copyediting, not proofreading.

    Check out our editing page for more information on the difference between these types of editing.

  • Can you format my citations and bibliography in Chicago, APA, MLA, etc.?

    Yes. Our copyediting service includes citation formatting for in-text parenthetical citations, endnotes/footnotes, and bibliography. Our editors are well versed in the latest (and often changing) formatting styles used in the interdisciplines, humanities, and social sciences, including those set by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Harvard, Associated Press (AP), and others.

  • What kind of texts and subjects do you work on?

    Our team of expert editors and indexers specializes in academic editing. We work on books (monographs and edited collections), journal articles, book chapters, and dissertations (carefully adhering to your university’s academic integrity guidelines).

    Our areas of expertise are the interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences. We mostly work on texts in the fields of gender and sexuality studies, performance, art, film/media studies, disability studies, area studies, social justice activism, ethnic studies, legal studies and prison abolition, science and technology studies, and humanities and social-science approaches to medicine.

    For examples of some of our past client work, see our Portfolio page.

  • Can you format my manuscript according to a journal or press’s requirements?

    Definitely. Whether your publisher uses their own unique style or a variation of one of the standard styles (Chicago, MLA, APA), we can format your manuscript accordingly. Just send us their style requirements when you send us your manuscript for copyediting and we'll make sure it aligns.

  • Can you proofread my manuscript?

    Yes. Now, keep in mind that proofreading is ONLY done on publisher-issued page proofs (the pdf of your manuscript that looks exactly like it will in print). As the last stage in the production process, proofreading only checks for typos, typesetting errors, (some) factual inaccuracies, and egregious mistakes in the production process. Proofreading edits cannot change the content or structure of the manuscript as that would require re-typesetting the entire manuscript, which is costly to both publishers and authors.

    If you are working in Microsoft Word and looking for someone to fix your sentence structure, check consistency, get rid of passive voice, strengthen your authorial tone, format your citations, and clean up the writing of your manuscript, you need copyediting (not proofreading).

  • Will you ghostwrite my manuscript?

    No. We will not write your manuscript for you, whether it is a manuscript for publication or a thesis/dissertation (that would be plagiarism). We have a strong ethical and political commitment to academic integrity—for scholarship to have credibility it needs to be researched and written by the person whose name is on it. We do not ghostwrite. Further, we will not edit any manuscript that we believe contains plagiarized material. We work with authors to polish writing they themselves have produced and help them create their best work.

Book standing upright, pages toward the camera, with glasses on top

Indexing Questions

  • Which indexer will work on my book?

    When we confirm the indexing schedule with you and sign the contract, we will match you with the Ideas on Fire indexer whose expertise and schedule best align with your project.

    Our editors and indexers have 36 combined years of editing and indexing expertise in the interdisciplines, humanities, and social sciences, particularly fields like gender and sexuality studies, disability studies, ethnic studies, politics, communication, history, anthropology, sociology, area studies, literary studies, continental philosophy, and education.

  • How far in advance should I hire an indexer?

    The minute you know from your press what the tentative publishing schedule is, you should start looking around for an indexer. The Ideas on Fire indexers book client projects 2–4 months in advance, so we recommend you contact us early to get on our client calendar. It’s okay to not have specific dates yet: “My press tells me I should have page proofs around September/October” is fine. Good indexes take a long time to write and good indexers are booked up far in advance, so this isn't something you can leave to the last minute.

  • Should I index my own book?

    No, and there are several reasons for this:

    1. Although you may be the person who is most familiar with the topics your book covers, you aren’t your reader. By definition, your reader won't know what you do about your topic—that's why they bought your book. This means they will not look at your book the way you do. Publishers recommend hiring a professional indexer for a reason: we do this for a living. As professional indexers, we approach your book as readers, knowing which entries readers will be looking for. We craft indexes that reflect their thought-processes. Indexes are for readers, not authors.

    2. Indexes must comply with publishing industry standards that most authors don’t know about. Professional indexers understand the industrial standards regarding index structure, run-in versus indented formatting, headings and subheadings, classification schemes, double posting, cross references, function words, reference locators, numbering schemas, alphabetizing rules (there are several formats), the correct use of en dashes, each individual press’s requirements, software, and what gets indexed and what doesn’t. We get training in this stuff so you don’t have to.

    3. And finally, presses usually require you to produce an index in a 4-week period during which you also have to proofread your page proofs (yes, all 300 pages). Trying to do both at once is a nightmare. Let us help you out and give you a kick-ass index that will help your book make an impact in the world.

  • Can't I ask my grad student/best friend/mom/colleague to index my book for free or cheap?

    Unless your grad student/best friend/mom/colleague is a professional indexer, they will not be able to produce an index that is as professional, comprehensive, and usable as someone who does this for a living (see the answer above for why). Producing a quality index takes training and experience that non-indexers simply don't have. A smart, well-meaning person might make a wonderful reader for your book but they will not be able to produce a top-notch index. Having them put together an index will take much longer, cause more hassle, and require much more editing than a professional one (including having to hire a professional after all that anyway). In other words, you get what you pay for.

  • Is there software that can index my book?

    The software that comes with Microsoft Word and other word processing programs produces a concordance, not an index. It can only track how often a term shows up in your book (so and would have thousands of entries). Indexing software, which is software built by and for professional indexers that helps format your final index, still needs a professional indexer to create all the entries and locators.

    Software isn’t human and can’t differentiate between relevant and irrelevant concepts and terms. Further, it can’t cross-reference very well. For example, software doesn’t know to cross-reference Judith Butler and performativity. You need a human being familiar with your field to do this. As professional indexers with scholarly expertise in diverse fields (see above for a list), we know the scholarship you’re drawing on and the ideas you’re working with. We can craft a personalized index for your book that helps it shine, emphasizes your most significant contributions, demonstrates how you are in conversation with other authors, and gets your book noticed and cited.

  • Why are some indexes super short while others rock?

    Indexes come in two main forms: names/titles indexes (which just contain the names of people your book cites, and some titles of texts you mention), and comprehensive indexes (which contain names, titles, and, most importantly, key concepts and topics that your book covers).

    Most of the time when publishers index books in-house, they offer a names/titles index only or one with only a few key concepts.

    Comprehensive indexes are the most useful ones—think about which you prefer as a reader. If you want to know how Gayle Salamon, author of Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality, conceptualizes transgender identity you should be able to go to the T’s and find a large, cross-referenced entry with sub-entries answering all your questions. (Cathy Hannabach is the IoF indexer who wrote that index, so she assures you it’s there.)

Close up on the index for Adrienne Shaw's book Gaming at the Edge. Stack of books in background

Pricing and Payments

  • Do you offer discounts?

    We do not offer discounts as our services are priced in accordance with industry standards and ensure everyone working with Ideas on Fire is paid a fair wage for their highly specialized expertise. We recognize that different clients have different financial resources, which is why we offer services at varied price points. As a feminist company committed to fair labor practices and economic justice, our prices ensure we can continue to provide you with excellent service over the long term.

  • When are invoices sent and payments due?

    For all products and courses, payment is also due upon purchase.

    For editing and indexing services, we will send you an invoice with the finished edited or indexed manuscript. Standard payment terms are 30 days after the invoice is sent.

  • What payment methods do you accept?

    For products (like Book Marketing for Academics), and courses (like Introduction to Professional Academic Editing), we accept payment by debit/credit card and PayPal.

    For editing and indexing services, we prefer payment by debit/credit card as this is easiest and quickest for everyone. We also accept payment by check and direct deposit. Many of our clients use university research funds to pay for our services and we are already a registered vendor with many US and Canadian universities, which makes that process quick and easy. If we are not already a registered vendor with your university, we are happy to begin that process so you can use your research funds.

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