Winner of the Betty Moys Prize: 2011
Life before indexing?
Lucy Leicester: I graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1999 and then spent ten years in small animal practice. I currently work part-time as a university teacher at Nottingham Vet School. Due to the flexibility of the SI course I was able to fit in most of my training while working full-time.
LL: I was interested in changing to a less clinical career with more family-friendly hours. I engaged a career consultant to research possibilities, and indexing came up as a good match. I was particularly drawn to being able to use my knowledge in a more intellectual way, and not being tied to set working hours.
What was your first indexing job.
LL: My first commission was to produce an index for the annual conference proceedings of a veterinary emergency critical care company. I was still a trainee at this time, and completed the index just before my first child arrived. I was incredibly pleased to get this experience under my belt before life got busier.
Have you managed to establish yourself as a full-time indexer?
LL: I qualified as an Accredited Indexer in 2011 just before my second child was born. I have been building up my business slowly due to small children taking up most of my time. I have the security of my part-time job for now, and plan to try and increase my client base in a year or so when my youngest starts pre-school.
What do you most enjoy about being an indexer?
LL: I enjoy the mental challenge that indexing presents, and the opportunity for constant learning as I index different subjects. I find the freedom to choose my own hours and arrange my own work hugely satisfying. I am essentially a home-body, and being able to work in my own surroundings with endless cups of tea is my idea of heaven. Indexing fits very well round family life as it can be done in the evenings at home. All I need in order to work is my laptop. Sometimes I decamp to my parents’ house to work in peace if I have a deadline looming.
Freelancers sometimes feel isolated – how do you keep in touch with professional colleagues?
LL: Keeping in touch with other indexers is easy via SIdeline, social media and local groups. There are lots of indexers on Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. I live in Derby and there are two or three regional groups within reach who meet regularly. Attending the annual conference is a great way of making links with other indexers and gaining confidence.
What about other interests? What do you do in your ‘spare’ time and how do you relax?
LL: I enjoy mountaineering, coastal walks and camping. I am a member of the National Trust. I relax by visiting friends and family and getting as much fresh air as possible
What’s been your best moment as an indexer so far?
LL: The highlight of my indexing career so far has been receiving the Betty Moys prize. It was a great confidence boost which is much appreciated when first starting out.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting out as an indexer?
LL: Start thinking of yourself as a small business. Think about your target market, and develop a marketing plan. Attend local business courses and events. I have found that becoming an indexer is just the start of the learning curve, and building a successful business is a whole new challenge.
What about the future – where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?
LL: In ten years I hope to be indexing medical and veterinary sciences full-time. I imagine that much more of the work will be indexing digital forms of media. If all goes well I would be keen to attain or be working towards fellowship.