Here at Writing in the Margins we are most interested in helping authors from marginalized backgrounds get their stories published. But we also understand that authors will write outside of their own culture and experience, which is why we strongly suggest the use of a sensitivity reader.
What is a Sensitivity Reader?
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 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.
How much does this cost?
Writing in the Margins recommends a basic minimum of $250 for a high level overall read on a manuscript (60,000-100,000 words). The manuscript should be free of glaring errors and should be nearly submission ready, meaning it should be a later draft and something that has been reviewed by others.
$250 will get a writer a high level read as well as a notes page detailing what is working and what problems the reader saw, as well as problems highlighted within the text. Again, this is NOT a structural edit.
Please keep in mind that $250 is the starting point for this kind of a read through. A few readers are also editors and may offer additional services. In addition, sensitivity readers with more reading/writing experience may charge more. We recommend inquiring as to the rates of the reader prior to sending any material. In addition, we advise sensitivity readers to get their payment prior to reading.
When a writer identifies the need for a sensitivity reader they should check out the sensitivity reader directory here on Writing in the Margins. After identifying a reader you would like to work with, writers should contact the reader directly via their email listed.
Writers should have a good idea of what is working and what isn’t, and should identify what exactly they’re looking for in the critique. In addition, please have a realistic idea of turnaround time (30 days is about average) and if you’re looking for a quicker time that may lead to additional costs.
All readers in the database are individual contractors. It is a good idea to inquire about experience prior to committing to a contract.
Sensitivity readers can help you identify problematic language and internalized bias on the page when writing outside of your experiences. This is not a guarantee that others will not have issues with your work. But it is a way to attempt to catch and correct high level issues prior to submission or publication.