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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Oct 26, 2023

Mark interviews writer and indexer Stephen Ullstrom about book indexing and his recent release BOOK INDEXING: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Prior to the main content, Mark shares a personal update about a skeleton and license plate theft, as well as word about this episode's sponsor, the Patrons of the Stark Reflections Podcast.


In their conversation, Mark and Stephen talk about:

  • Stephen's long-time interest in writing
  • How his role working at UBC Press when he was attending university was his first exposure to indexing
  • Using freelancing doing indexing to help support his writing, but how that freelancing kind of took over much of his career
  • Still being interested in fiction, but how writing a book about indexing was a good full book-length project to complete
  • Stephen's book: BOOK INDEXING: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • His goal to make indexing simple and practical and more entry-level
  • Why authors should care about indexing
  • How indexing can become somewhat of a marketing tool
  • The way an index can bring more value to a book
  • The pros and cons of a keyword search (as opposed to an index, where the human filtering on what's relevant is being done for you)
  • How an index can be much more granular than even a layered/multi-leveled table of contents
  • The way an index works within an eBook
  • What an embedded index is
  • Cases where a fiction author might want to use indexing
  • Considerations on whether or not it's best to do your own index or to hire that work out to a professional indexer
  • The average length of time it would take Stephen to index a 200 page book (about 20 hours)
  • The typical price range an author can expect to pay for having a book indexed (For example a trade book that's about 200 pages could cost about $800 to $900 CAD - about $4.00 CAD per page. A scholary book is usually about $6.00 to $6.50 to $7.00 CAD per page)
  • The steps to go through when creating an index
  • Stephen's use of the indexing software called Cindex
  • Remembering that, ultimately, your index is for the READER
  • How to hire Stephen if you're interested in leveraging his indexing services\
  • A common misperception authors often have about indexing
  • And more


After the interview, Mark reflects on the value of indexing as it pertains to some of his non-fiction and even fiction titles.



Links of Interest:


Stephen Ullstrom is an award-winning professional indexer. He believes that the world is a better place with well-written indexes, and is passionate about helping authors, publishers, and the index-curious understand how indexing works.



The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0