I often have new indexers ask me about marketing their services as they start out. The market has changed considerably since the 1990s when I was a newbie indexer. An entire publishing revolution has been happening since then. Crazy stuff with traditional publishers consolidating and outsourcing various production services to places like India, more packagers (providers of multiple publishing services like editing, proofreading, book design and indexing) becoming middle men and taking their cut, and finally, the challenge of individual self-publishing authors.
For all these interesting complications, though, new openings for contacting folks who might need your indexing services have also emerged, primarily in the form of social media connections and email replacement of cold calls. And I don’t have to head out to my local library to peruse lists of publishers; I can just get a week-long subscription to the online version (I use the Literary Marketplace (LMP) when I do a marketing campaign).
First thing I recommend for new indexers-to-be is a full course of training, even if they’ve taken an intro course and want to look for indexing jobs in the meantime. The American Society for Indexing’s (ASI) course or the University of California at Berkeley course are the most comprehensive ones in the U.S. at the moment. Nothing like training to give you a first-in credential and some confidence. 🙂
You can also make marketing plans and start marketing before finishing one of these courses, of course, since the time from initial contact to getting an indexing job can take six months or longer, at least from my experience and talking with other folks, not just in indexing, either. And in order to get more experience, you can also volunteer to work on indexing projects for your local library, church, or other association. I started off with a volunteer project for ASI’s newsletter, for example. Turned out to be the only periodical index I ever did, but it was an excellent experience.
I began marketing in 1995 by making cold calls to publishers, but these days, methods have changed a lot. When I marketed back then, I did not try to blanket the world, but picked ten publishers who published books I was interested in. And the LMP lets you know what kinds of books a publisher puts out. The most difficult bit can be finding the right person to contact. Large organizations try to protect their mid-level editorial folks from being inundated, so they don’t always provide email addresses for them (email is the standard “cold call” method these days, although a postcard with your services on it can be effective also; follow up with the email after you figure the postcard has been received). I find niche and hybrid publishers (look up blogs on these kinds of publishers to find out more about them) are more approachable than the big ones.
It will also be useful to have at least a CV/resume type website, although without a lot of experience to talk about, I’m not sure you’ll have much for a blog, although you could document further learning processes.
A website should be your home base, with social media feeding into it (e.g., you write a post on your blog and broadcast to an FB page or LinkedIn profile, not the other way around). LinkedIn is a good place to be for professional activities, and if you are willing to pay some money, you can get permission to send messages to folks who are not your connections (again on a temporary subscription basis) and send out some “cold calls” through LinkedIn In-Mail. More important over the long term, though, is to develop your own indexing and publishing-related network of connections on LinkedIn and whatever other social networks suit you. No need to use all of them by any means, but LinkedIn is kind of a standard option for professional networking.
Lastly, networking with a professional organization was crucial to getting my career started and face-to-face contact with other professionals is a definite value added, particularly for referral business, so I attended ASI annual conferences and got to know other indexers.
With a well-rounded approach to marketing, you should be successful in breaking into this specialized market.