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What's a Sensitivity Reader?

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

What is a Sensitivity Reader?

I’m glad you asked. This is a person who helps you to nip harmful rhetoric and language in the bud before it can hurt the communities you strive to represent within your work. So instead of thorns and vitriol you send only flowers in full bloom. Harmful language and outdated terms hurt everyone. It can hurt your career if people boycott your book because you said something harmful. It can also affect the people you’re describing. No one wants to pick up a book and feel insulted at a core level of their personhood. Without a sensitivity reader harmful things can slip through the cracks.

So what does sensitivity reader do? They read your work and search for any harmful language or ideas that would negatively effect marginalized people. They suggest changes and a list of trigger warnings to increase readability while limiting harm. Deliverables for this work usually include a trigger warning list, potential big issues, strengths, weaknesses, and answers to questions you supplied at the start of the project. And remember: there is nothing wrong with having things to change. What’s important is that you take suggestions to heart and use the experience to learn and grow.

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