For as long as I can remember, I have always had an interest in the beauty of the written word, though often I was made by the people around me to seem like a crazy perfectionist when it came to not only my own writing, but especially the writing of others. My mother, with a background in English, was the only one I knew who shared my “obsession” with language, and even as a child remember the contests that she and I would have on Shabbat afternoons as to which one of us would find more typos in the book each of us had picked out from the library the day before. At the time, I was not aware of the multitude of professions there were to choose from that related to writing. All I knew was that she shared her love of books and libraries so much with me and my brother that it was inevitable that not only one, not only both, but both of us and my sister-in-law as well, would all eventually become librarians.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. After playing the librarian in a variety of elementary school plays, doing a high school internship at my local Jewish library, and more editing than writing for my school newspaper, I majored in journalism at Stern College. The publishing field beckoned to me, but after a few short-term jobs I didn’t feel like I had truly reached my professional calling. So, after a few years of unsatisfying work outside of the field and a move back to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, a “help wanted” sign on the circulation desk of my favorite childhood library at exactly the same time I was ready to go back to work after a too-long maternity leave was just the thing I needed to remind me in which direction to go.
I loved library work and requested several times to be moved to different departments so I could get a taste of everything it had to offer. It was less than a year later that I decided that, despite the fact that it would be harder to go back to school now that I had a family of my own to take care of and another baby on the way, I would take the plunge and get my master’s degree in library science, timing my schooling so that I would graduate when the kids had both started school. In my mind, everything was going along perfectly. I couldn’t wait to start working as a professional librarian full-time. That is, until I graduated and started looking for a professional position. No “real” jobs were to be had, not in the three libraries where I had worked during my time before and in school and not anywhere else locally, despite months of searching, interviews and false hopes. Nobody told me about THIS in library school!
There was only one thing that kept me from becoming completely dejected and feeling like the last three years of hard work were all for nothing. In my second-to-last semester of school, a fellow student happened to mention totally in passing to me that I seemed to have a real knack for abstraction, or summarizing. In response, the teacher asked the class if any of us had considered indexing as a career alternative to librarianship. I honestly and truly had not, but after only one day of intensive internet research about indexing as a profession, my only thought was, “How did it take so long for me to discover this?” After finding out that most professional indexers work freelance, I was a little nervous thinking about all the things that starting a business entailed, but I was so excited to find out that yes, I can actually get paid to be a crazy perfectionist when it came to the writing of others, that the business aspect was small peanuts.
I couldn’t wait to get started training, not even waiting the last few months until I was done with library school. I signed up for an internet-based correspondence course with one of the top indexing teachers in America on the basics of learning how to index and start an indexing business. Diving in head-first, my teacher said I was a natural indexer and I was thrilled that the nagging question “What should I do when I grow up?” was finally answered in my mind.
I have been lucky enough in the nearly two years that have passed since my day of epiphany to build up a successful freelance business. Indexing makes up only part of what I do for my clients. Sometimes books need to be indexed and also copyedited, proofread, or have a bibliography added, and I will sometimes offer a discount for doing multiple services on the same book. Sometimes publishers refer my services to authors, and sometimes authors refer me to publishers. Sometimes authors will send me a pile of scribbles and ask me to magically transform them into a bestseller, also known as developmental editing. I have a regular gig editing paranormal romance fiction for The Wild Rose Press, as well as one writing book and CD reviews for the Association of Jewish Libraries. I have gotten many jobs as well from colleagues who are overbooked or who know of my specialization in Judaica. Once in a blue moon, I have a free evening to work on my own writing and hope to one day get my fiction published. All in all, I am very happy with the way my business has been growing, and my day-to-day operations are constantly changing and keep me on my toes. I am also constantly marveling that I learn more “random stuff” by indexing and editing than I ever did as a budding librarian! So, here I am, ready to educate you all in the Israeli freelancing world about the wonder contained in the back of most books that makes its contents all that much more valuable.