Wicked Plants: The Case of the Missing Index


WickedplantssmI regularly hear from readers who want to know why Wicked Plants doesn't have an index.  It was a mistake, I tell them.  But it's hard to understand how an index could be accidentally left out of a book unless you understand how the production process works.

Once the manuscript is finished, edited, and ready to go to copyediting, a checklist gets filled out.  That checklist covers any number of production issues still to be dealt with.  One of the items on that checklist is the index.  If the book is supposed to include an index, then someone reads the checklist, hires a professional indexer, and an index gets made and turned in before the book goes to the printer.

In my case, there was some kind of glitch in that system.  The checklist definitely specified that an index should be included, but somehow that got missed and the index never got ordered. By the time I realized that there was no index forthcoming, it was too late to do anything about it. And there was no way to add it later without having to repaginate the book and possibly raise the price.  So there is no index.

I have never heard the end of it.  And you can be sure that I checked, double-checked, and triple-checked to make sure that Wicked Bugs contained an index!

This has been so frustrating to my readers that one of them actually posted an index she made herself as an Amazon review. But recently, something even more extraordinary happened.  An actual professional indexer, Laura Dodd, walked into my bookstore one day and handed me a complete, extremely detailed, beautifully formatted index that she made for practice.  It's even formatted to the exact page size of the book.

And now she's making it available to you. 

So if you find it frustrating that Wicked Plants has no index, I've got your answer right here.  Just head over to Laura's site and download the index in your choice of formats.

And if you're in the market for indexing, editing, or proofreading services, I hope you'll consider getting in touch with Laura at Redwood Coast Indexing, who is clearly devoted to her craft.



  1. That is amazing. For starters, I had no idea that there were professional indexers out there. It’s a whole job? Wow. And secondly, that she created an index just for practice? Cuz it doesn’t look nearly as much fun as eating cherry pie so that she did that on her own time…amazing.

  2. I did a different kind of indexing with documents in a large multi-district-litigation case in the early 80’s. It was, IMNSHO, a stupid way to do things, but I wasn’t setting policy.

    I have often encountered books–especially cookbooks and garden books–where the the index was lacking quite a lot, so I am very happy that Laura undertook this taks.

    Thank you very much!

  3. I’ve never met Laura but I understand and know her in a deep way. Editors and indexers and other assorted editorial types can become pleasantly addicted to the very act of editing or indexing. For many years I did such work for a living. To many, it may seem mind-numbingly boring but for me, and others, it’s even better than eating cherry pie and I LOVE cherry pie.

  4. Pamela, I’m so glad there are people like you out there! Wish we could share a slice of cherry pie over coffee. And look at your blog! It’s wonderful. I bookmarked it so I can go back to it.

  5. How awesome is that? I took a look at Laura’s version and it is very nicely done. If I ever have need for a professional indexer I will definitely give her a call. What she did is a perfect example of “paying it forward”.

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