“So. What do you do?”
When that socially-required question is asked by someone I’ve just met, I already know how the rest of the conversation will go:
“I’m an indexer. I write back-of-book indexes.”
“Really? I didn’t know that was a real thing.”
“How did you get into that?”
Party pleasantries aside, how I became an indexer is one of my favorite stories to tell. It’s a good one.
I was a stay-at-home mom with a college degree and business experience sitting on the floor with my kiddos playing Barbie and Cars. Although I don’t regret a minute of the time I was home, I did spend an unproportionate
amount of time wondering what was next.
I knew I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world. I knew I wanted flexibility. But I didn’t know at all what that would look like. Like, at all. Looking back at it now I’m a bit embarrassed about how much time I spent worrying about my next gig.
I kept busy doing things other than playing Polly Pockets. I wrote articles for newsletters. I did some research. I fact-checked for an author. I edited business reports. And, though I enjoyed all of these jobs, they were jobs. They weren’t careers.
I felt like time was ticking. My baby was about to go to 1st grade.
One day I was lamenting to my BFF, Toni, about my post-mommy career anxiety. Toni and I first met as English majors in college. Until the demise of brick and mortar book stores, our favorite thing to do together was wander around a Barnes & Noble or Borders. We are book nerds.
With a sigh, she said, “Wouldn’t be nice if you could just read for a living?”
Wait. Read for a living? Could I actually do that?
So, I did the next natural thing and Googled “reading books for a living.” Hidden in that search result list was the gem I didn’t know I was looking for. Indexing.
Um, stupid question. Don’t computers just index a book? Turns out, they don’t.
I found the leading organization for indexers, American Society for Indexing (ASI), and soaked in everything on their website. I scoured the indexes on my own bookshelf, ordered books on how to start an indexing business, took a course offered by ASI, and jumped in.
And I haven’t looked back.
Now, I am so thankful for a career that brings me so much personal satisfaction, allows me flexibility, provides a nice paycheck, and helps authors bring their dreams to life.
I read for a living. How great is that?
If you think reading for a living and writing indexes might be the answers to your obsessive “what now” questions, let me know. I’ll be your Toni and give you that little push.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton