What is sensitivity reading and why is it important?
The sensitiviy reading resource, Writing Diversely, explains that one of the original directories, Writing in the Margins, defines it as, “A sensitivity reader reads through a manuscript for issues of representation and for instances of bias on the page. The goal of a sensitivity reader isn’t to edit a manuscript for clarity and logic, although that may be an additional service offered. A sensitivity reader reviews a manuscript for internalized bias and negatively charged language. A sensitivity reader is there to help make sure you do not make a mistake, but they are also NOT a guarantee against making a mistake."
Readers look for authenticity as well as cliches, harmful wording, stereotypes, and tropes that might negatively impact perception of marginalized communities. You may not think your project makes a difference but I promise you it does. Extensive studies have shown that diversity or lack of in media consumed plays a major role in how both children and adults perceive marginalized communities.
All projects need developmental editing and consulting to make them their best possible selves. I would love to help you do that.
A fantastic resource as a directory and to learn more about the need for authenticity readers, is Writing Diversely, where I learned of the above definition and paraphrased their explanation.
How I Work
Typically I give feedback in the text as well as feedback in few page report with other resources unless the author prefers another format.
Typically I charge .015-.019 for full length books and potentially per hour or flat fees for shorter projects.
For further information on rates:
Click on EFA for their chart of standard rates
I prefer to be really thorough working on an project and go in depth with my feedback and support so I like to take more time. With chronic illness, allowing myself extra time ensures I can be sure to meet my own health obligations.
With the exception of short works like Children's books, website blurbs, I prefer not to do rushed jobs except for special occasions (feel free to ask). I'll always try to suggest a colleague if its not a good fit for me.
Children's books, novels, YA, websites, blog entries, essays, adult, plays, poetry, some scifi
I read for the identities listed as well as others related to or within those since I couldn't list them all. The best thing to do is to send me a message or email and tell me a little about your project.
(each resource hyperlinked)
Starting Places before hiring a sensitivity reader (SR):
(each is hyperlinked)
Starting articles from the Writing Diversely and Salt and Sage Blogs as well as diversity guides
Directories (all hyperlinked):
If you can't afford a sensitivity reader:
As you know writing isn't exactly an industry with a direct path to money for newer writers if you don't have specific connections/access/systemic privileges or if you haven't already published a best seller. That's a super real issue for many writers.
For starters though, if you already have a publisher, ask them about their budget for SRs. The publisher should absolutely be paying for at least one, most likely more, sensitivity readers. That's standard practice. Hopefully they've already told you that.
If you're in the pre-publisher stage, and can't afford to pay a sensitivity reader out of pocket, there's a few resources that can help you avoid some of the more major and common issues. You will need an SR at some point. just as you budget for developmental edits, you'll need to budget for sensitivity readers.
If able to, I really suggest prioritizing reading/listening to/watching as much of the above as you can. They will make you a better writer.
Below are more resources -for some I only linked one article because spoons, but if you're able to, suggest reading the rest of their articles and websites as well. Your work will be so much better for it with deeper more complex plots and characters and authentic representation.
(They are certainly doing wonders for mine).
10 Tips for Writing Physical Descriptions of Your Character
(Writing With Color guide)
Writing The Other
Read a variety of genres by marginalized authors. Many more suggestions will be added later
Extended Reading list:
If you're disabled/have chronic pain:
Plot, characters, description:
Description resources from Writing With Color:
(This article has many amazing resources at the bottom for further learning about descriptions)
More Resources to come! If you think of ones I'm missing, you're welcome to message and let me know and I'll add them. Hoping to create a table with resources to make it more accessible, if I get permission from the owners of the content above. As spoons become available, I'll be working on that.