There are a lot of terms used for types of inclusivity editing. You’ve possibly heard of sensitivity reading, authenticity reading, or editing for conscious language. These are all important, but an inclusivity read is different.
An inclusivity read checks the manuscript for anything that could have slipped in due to unconscious bias.
This can include misrepresentation of marginalised characters, comments or phrases that perpetuate stereotypes, and language that can be harmful to certain groups. It looks at specific words and phrases in granular detail and recommends replacements where applicable, but it will also look at the bigger picture and how numerous facets of diversity are represented across a work, including in illustrations and design.
Sensitivity and authenticity reads differ in that they should be done by someone with lived experience, and will normally only focus on one element of the project. This type of work should be done at an early stage in the writing process, as it’s essentially research to ensure you are accurately representing a certain facet of diversity.
An inclusivity read builds upon that work. It cannot, however, replace a sensitivity read, which is why both are important.
Editing for conscious language involves ensuring language is bias-free. An inclusivity read will check for conscious language, but it will also look at the wider representation in the story and illustrations as well as the accessibility within the design of the book.
Here’s a list of topics I usually cover in an inclusivity read:
Visual accessibility (design and format)
This list is not exhaustive and is adjusted depending on the content of each book.
I approach all of my editing and inclusivity reads with the assumption that authors want their books to be read and enjoyed by as many children as possible.
The books that get an inclusivity read are typically those where something is not sitting well with an editor. However, every book can benefit from an inclusivity read.
It’s also important to not just see this as an investment in one book (or series): it’s a learning experience that can be applied to all future projects. Because normalising an inclusive and diverse world in children’s books will help tackle prejudice and build a better future for the next generation.
One final note: I strongly believe that the publishing industry needs to diversify to address the systematic problems within it. In an ideal world, all editors and publishers will be trained and experienced in inclusivity reading as well as challenging their own unconscious bias, to the point it’s a standard part of the editorial process.
I was trained by Beth Cox, who offers an in-house training programme as well as one for freelancers, and recommend her training to any editors and publishers reading this.
But as we continue to work through these changes in the industry, inclusivity reads are becoming increasingly important. So, are you ready to start making your books more inclusive? Then please get in touch!
What’s the process?
Once we’ve agreed a schedule, you can send me the manuscript and any information that might be useful. I will then read the book and mark-up any comments on the manuscript as well as provide you with a report going into more details. We can arrange a call to discuss any points if needed.
While I can sometimes schedule an inclusivity read at short notice, it is advisable to build this step into your editorial schedule and book me in advance as I can get very booked up.
What is the cost?
The price varies according to the project. Please contact me for an estimate.