I offer Sensitive Reader critiques, along with a cadre of writer colleagues listed on the We Write in the Margins Sensitive Readers database.
My rates and practices follow the guidelines listed on the Margins page of $250 for a manuscript read of 50,000-90,000 words. For word counts outside this range or multiple reviews, please contact me. Consultation services range from $40-$90.
What is a Sensitivity Reader?
View here for the description from the Writing in the Margins program.
What representations do you read for?
Stories, characters, themes, issues that are related to Black/African American and the African diaspora, bi-cultural, biracial, intercultural, or immigrant experiences. In addition, if there are Black related themes along with including other underrepresented communities (POC, Native, LGBTQI, disabilities, mental health, non-traditional, low income, Dreamers) I can provide additional support, although I might refer you to another sensitivity reader if I think they’d be a better fit for your project or I feel there was a particular area you could use additional sensitivity reads.
What categories/genres are the best match for you?
Young Adult and Middle Grade.
What about New Adult or Adult fiction?
Sorry. In order to give you the highest quality sensitivity read, I’m limiting my scope to the categories I regularly read and write in. Although I would be willing to consider an NA/A thriller or mystery based story. Part of my feedback might include authors/books you should consider becoming familiar with, so this is how I can ensure providing you the best resources. There are other sensitive readers in the database who offer services across all categories and genres you can consider.
What else wont you offer services for?
Romance, erotic, characters falling in love with someone holding power over them (slave owners/abusers/genocide etc), white savior complex, minority sidekicks with no ARC or direction other than to fulfill the MC’s story.
What if my manuscript isn’t complete and I want a partial sensitive read before I decide if it’s a project worth writing?
I offer consulting services for $40-$90 and would need to assess what your looking for on the inquiry form. My initial response will likely be to wait until your manuscript is complete.
Consulting services would not include reading any pages, but conversation and resources on things to be aware of as you develop your project. It might also be a conversation on whether you should pursue the project at all. I will not answer specific questions of if something is offensive or if you’re describing something accurately. I am a very busy professional and write on top of my career. My interest in participating in sensitivity reads are to help the publishing industry offer accurate and sensitive writings that include underrepresented characters or stories, and are not harmful to those cultures.
This also means I want to develop a relationship with an author and have committed writers dedicated to not only write accurate portrayals and stories, but to also become writers who encourage #ownvoices as an important reflection along with their own writing.
Too often writers want to have a story for a trend, don’t do their homework, want quick answers so they can say someone Black or African American vetted their story. I’m not interested in being a part of that, or spending any of my extra energy on someone not willing to put in the work to represent accurately. If however, you are looking for guidance on approaches, and or we’ve worked together and you’d like follow ups, we can discuss possible consulting services for partials on things I’ve already reviewed.
If I use your service can I include your name as someone who vetted my story?
Short answer: No. Absolutely not.
Long Answer: As writers we know that when we ask someone for feedback, critiques, or a beta read, that we don’t accept all suggestion. When we do make revisions, it doesn’t necessarily reflect all of the feedback or the interpretation of what the critique intended.
If an author doesn’t want to take a suggestion, it is well within the right of the author not to make changes. I do the same in my writing. My story, my way. But because this reflects a sensitive read, there might be issues I find so problematic, that you as not an “ownvoices” might never understand, or take in the full impact of your work upon a community. I get it. It’s not your culture, and you can’t pick up those feelings unless you have lived and breathed it. So things you might have seen on a tv show, movie, read in a book, might make you feel that what you included is okay. It also might in fact be you appropriating someone’s culture, using language or terms that would be considered offensive.
Can I acknowledge you in my book?
Please ask in case I had major concerns about your work and or what revisions occurred after we worked together (or your agent/editor). Sometimes there’s a lot of work that needs to be done still, even if promising, and I just don’t feel comfortable without a final look, having my name associated as someone who “vetted” your work. I am only one person with one view.
I can’t afford services, but I’m committed to writing this story?
Commit to reading books by #ownvoices. Many books by #ownvoices. Ask yourself if your story will be authentic, if you are the one to tell it. Attend Diversity panels, readings by diverse authors, read articles by #ownvoices. Do not fill your bookshelf with stories with diverse characters–not written by diverse authors. So many stereotypes and histories are derived in misstellings and supremacy–don’t repeat this cycle. Find someone (multiple people) within your writing genre and ask to swap for a Beta or critique. Put a call out on twitter for a swap. Have more than one critiquer within that representation. Consider alternate ways to tell the message you are sharing. Justina Larbalestier has some informative tweets and this article might be a good place to start when you are deciding whether this is a story you should be writing http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2015/10/20/on-writing-poc-when-you-are-white/ https://twitter.com/JustineLavaworm
What about a trade of services?
If you have professional experience editing, offer critique services, or robust editorial letter I would consider a trade of services. Especially from someone who has been actively writing diverse stories or advocating for #ownvoices for a long time period (particularly people of #ownvoices), or people already within my circle of writer friends. These would also be really limited as I already have a crew of people I trade work with and it just makes it hard to do this beyond my established partnership.
I’ve made a mistake in my representation of a character, what do I do?
Say you’re sorry. You promise to do better. You thought you vetted it with research and sensitive readers, but it wasn’t enough. Listen. Don’t argue. Thank people for sharing their thoughts. Don’t ask your POC friends to defend you. If they agree, they will do it on their own. Don’t harass your Beta’s. Move on.
This is scary?
Good. It’s even scarier what happens when you don’t get feedback. If researching and having questions of challenges make you uncomfortable, that should be a sign you’re not ready yet.
Complete this inquiry form and I will respond within 48 hours. If you do not hear back from me please send a direct email or note on twitter as there might be a delay on the form.