I was very excited to receive the first pages of Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) in mid/late-February. Mariah and I spent some serious time reading and re-reading every word of the book to find typos, update some information, fix some odd writing, and generally make the book a little better. I can now definitively say that signing off on those pages—saying, “Yes, this is how it should be, send it on to the next step”—is absolutely nerve-racking. My biggest perfectionist fear is finding a typo after the book is available for purchase (so if you find any typos after you buy a copy, kindly keep them to yourself).
The book should go through another round of copy-editing before being sent off for indexing. And I want to take just a moment to say something about that.
Radical Charity is, in part, a response to charity skeptics like Robert Lupton and Ruby Payne. Crafting a good response meant that I had to describe their arguments accurately, and that meant combing through their books to find different parts of their arguments, various illustrations, and so on. The fact that their books do not have indices made that much more time consuming than it had to be, and that was incredibly frustrating.
In some cases, Kindle versions of books helped with this, since I could let the computer do most of the work of finding phrases or passages in those cases.
But still: if you are writing something that there is a chance that people might want to find a particular part of—whether those people agree with you or not—please include an index. This is especially true if you have the privilege of publishing with one of the big publishing houses. I mean, I’m paying to have mine indexed. If you’re in a position that a big publisher really wants to sell your book, ask them to include one. It’s a selling point.