What is a sensitivity reader and why do I need one?

Sensivity Reader

...publishing has a diversity problem: the industry itself is overwhelmingly white, and most of the books being published are the products of white authors or feature primarily white characters. Though increasing, the numbers are still cause for alarm: 31 percent of children’s books published in 2017 were about non-white characters, but only 7 percent of the children’s books published in 2017 were written by Black, Latinx, or Native American authors.

Madison Schultz
Clearly, this is a problem.

Representation matters deeply. As authors, we have a remarkable chance to help turn the tide on these dismal numbers. (If you aren't convinced yet that there is a problem, see #representationmatters on Twitter for countless real-world examples, Geena Davis' remarkable work on women in the media, and USC's chilling report about Hollywood's major diversity problem.)

So you want to do something about it. Good! So do we! This is where a sensitivity reader comes in. Sensitivity readers are quickly become an essential part of every author's arsenal. They provide nuanced feedback that will change your writing for the better—and make sure that you're helping with representation, not becoming part of the problem. Microaggressions, word choice, accuracy, and racist/sexist tropes all fall under the umbrella of a sensitivity reader's work.

We at Salt & Sage Books applaud authors who work hard towards inclusion. To support that, we have a collection of vetted readers for you to choose from with a broad array of experiences. Please see our Sensitivity & Expert Reader page for their profiles.

For more information on sensitivity readers and their necessity, please see these two excellent articles:

  1. https://ooligan.pdx.edu/sense-and-sensitivity/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/27/vetting-for-stereotypes-meet-publishings-sensitivity-readers

What is an expert reader?

Also known as "targeted beta readers," these readers are people who have backgrounds or experiences in the things you're writing about. For instance, if your main character adores horses and you don't know much about them, an expert reader would be someone who knows horses. They will help you catch small details that will make your writing feel even more authentic and deep.

We have a wide variety of experiences and skill sets represented by our talented expert readers. Please see our Sensitivity & Expert Reader page for their profiles.

Expert Reader