Budgeting for Editing and Indexing on Books and Articles

by | May 17, 2024

Editing and indexing are crucial parts of the scholarly publishing process. These services ensure that books and journal articles are polished, professional, and accessible to diverse audiences. However, for many interdisciplinary scholars, budgeting for editing and indexing can be a challenge, and many (most?) universities do not offer extensive information about budgeting to their faculty.

Here I offer some practical advice on smart budgeting for these services, helping you manage costs while ensuring your books and articles get the professional support they deserve.

Understanding the importance of editing and indexing

High-quality academic editing strengthens the readability, usefulness, and overall impact of your book or journal article. 

Developmental editing strengthens your overarching argument and intervention, and it helps you build a strong structure to support that argument across the entire manuscript. It ensures your engagement with scholarly sources and debates is compelling and up to date, and it can be invaluable in crafting the kind of book or article that presses and journals are interested in publishing.

Academic copyediting improves grammar, syntax, style, consistency, and tone. It takes care of citation formatting too. Copyediting makes certain your manuscript aligns with publisher and journal formatting requirements, saving you enormous hassle.

For interdisciplinary work, developmental editing and copyediting are also vital in making sure your language and ideas are accessible to readers from various fields.

Similarly, a well-crafted index improves the usability of your book by diverse audiences. It allows readers to find and understand a book’s key concepts and interventions. It also ultimately enables readers to cite your book in their own research. And as we know at Ideas on Fire, indexes are deeply political. A good interdisciplinary index signal-boosts the work of marginalized scholars and fields while making the text accessible across communities.

Budgeting for these crucial publishing services can be challenging, but the rewards are immense.

“A superb team of editors who handle interdisciplinary scholarship with rigor and care” — IoF author Sandra Ristovska

We’re passionate about making your interdisciplinary text stronger and publishing experience easier.

Assessing your needs

The first step in smart budgeting is to assess your specific needs.

What types of editing do you need? Manuscript reviews and developmental editing help you work out the content, while copyediting cleans up the writing and proofreading fixes errors in typeset page proofs. Identifying which of these types of editing would be most helpful for your manuscript is the first step in figuring out your budget.

What is the structure of your manuscript? The length and format of your book or article manuscript will determine the cost of editing and indexing. Longer, denser, and more intricately formatted manuscripts take more time and expertise to edit and that is reflected in editor rates. Similarly, books with many contributors (like an edited collection), books with a large number of names, and books with deep engagement with big concepts (like technology or capitalism or gender) require more time and expertise to index, which is reflected in indexer rates.

What is your timeline? Editors and indexers tend to book projects several months out, and closer deadlines mean rush rates. Communicate with the publisher or journal staff to get clear on your manuscript’s deadlines. Communicate these deadlines clearly when contacting editors and indexers, and if you’re working with a tight time frame, make sure to budget for rush fees.

Researching editors and indexers

Once you have a clear understanding of your manuscript’s needs, it’s time to research potential editors and indexers. For interdisciplinary scholars, it’s particularly important to find an editor and indexer with deep experience and skill handling interdisciplinary manuscripts in your fields

Ask your colleagues, department chair, and mentors for recommendations of folks they have worked with and endorse. Take a look at the acknowledgments sections of books and articles you like—often authors identify developmental editors, copyeditors, and indexers in there. 

Once you have some names, review their websites to see their process, their portfolio, and their prices. Be sure to read reviews and testimonials there as well to see what other authors have worked with them and how they found the experience.

Budgeting for editing and indexing

Editing and indexing costs can vary widely depending on experience, expertise, and type of service. 

Reach out to multiple editing and indexing agencies or individuals and ask for a project quote. Make sure you let them know the details of your project and what exactly you are looking for. Share the important deadlines and specifics with them so they can figure out how your project would fit into their client calendar and whether you are the right fit for them. 

The price quotes provided should clearly list and explain the estimated costs, outline the project workflow, explain who you would be communicating with and how, and give concrete dates for when things will be delivered.

Maximizing your budget

To get the most value from limited funds, start budgeting for editing and indexing as early as possible in your writing process.

Look for department funding, university resources, or external grants that can offset the costs of editing and indexing. Scholarly associations sometimes offer funds to aid with publishing, like the College Art Association’s Millar Meis Publication Award. Faculty development offices are also a potential source of support. Most universities allow faculty research funds to be spent on editing and indexing as well.

Some publishers also provide subvention grants for first-generation and/or marginalized scholars to pay for editing or indexing on their first books—for example, Duke University Press’s Scholars of Color First Book Fund

Some agencies offer both editing and indexing services, which helps maximize your budget as well. Working with the same team for both editing and indexing can mean a more streamlined process and more ease on your part. It can also ensure consistency around pricing. Perhaps most helpful, it provides a strong post-publication book marketing engine and gives you access to the collective interdisciplinary expertise of a team that has established relationships with the key publishers and journals in your fields.

Hiring editors and indexers who are already registered vendors with your university is another way to save time and money (not to mention a ton of hassle!). If they are not already registered, make sure to confirm ahead of time whether they are willing and able to do so—otherwise you’ll need to plan to pay out of pocket and arrange to be reimbursed. 

Smart budgeting for editing and indexing is essential for interdisciplinary scholars aiming to produce high-quality, accessible books and journal articles. By getting clear about your editing and indexing needs, researching editors and indexers, and strategically allocating your funds, you can ensure your book or article receives the professional attention it deserves. Investing in these services not only enhances your current project but also sets you up with great working relationships and resources that will help you across your interdisciplinary career.

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Cathy Hannabach is the founder and CEO of Ideas on Fire as well as the host of the Imagine Otherwise podcast.

Your work can change the world

It deserves an awesome interdisciplinary team of editors and indexers supporting you every step of the way

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