While discussions continue about whether authors or publishers should pay for the service (some great comments were made about this at the editor/agent panel at Spring Spirit ’17), sensitivity readers are happening. With the push for diversity in publishing and some authors writing outside of their experiences, these specialized readers are adding a new level to vetting a manuscript, lending an experienced eye to try and catch negatively charged language, implicit bias, and/or accidentally offensive material.
So, where does that leave you? Are you writing outside of your experience? Do you need a sensitivity reader? Do you think the whole thing is hooey? Or maybe this is the first time you’ve even heard of such a thing. Regardless of where you are—whether it’s neck deep in a project about a queer teen from Vermont who’s captain of her high school ski team but you’re a fifty-two year old straight man from Folsom who’s never even seen snow, or you don’t feel comfortable writing outside of your experience because you believe it’s someone else’s story to tell, or anywhere in between, this article from Slate is for you.
Waldman, Katy. (2017, Feb. 8). Is My Novel Offensive? Retrieved from: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2017/02/how_sensitivity_readers_from_minority_groups_are_changing_the_book_publishing.html.