Outside Readers: Helping You Create Solid Content

It’s been a while since the publishing world went crazy over the thought of sensitivity readers.  Was it a great idea or was it censorship?  And whose pocket was this going to come out of anyway?

If you missed last year’s debate, the idea was that people writing outside their own experience need sensitivity readers to review their books.  These readers will help determine whether or not these authors have “sensitively” portrayed people from different groups.  

In my work for packagers, I often find myself rewriting based on comments from at least two editors, possibly a rep from the customer who wants the content, and a consultant.  Hopefully you will understand when I say that I found the idea of yet another layer of comments to reconcile with all of the others less than thrilling.  

Then I read this post from The Horn Book.  Jason Low, publisher and co-owner of Lee and Low Books explains that Lee and Low has employed content readers for years.  They just call them expert readers.  

What are they experts in?  It all depends on the book.  For one book, the reader will be an expert on a particular culture and that group’s history.  For another the reader may be an expert in a scientific field.  It varies from book to book.

When I read this, I laughed out loud. I already work with these kinds of experts.  At Redline, they call these people content consultants.  

My message?  Don’t panic.  Take a deep breath.  Publishers are not your enemy.  They just want to help you create the best, most accurate, book possible.  Is that really a bad thing?


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