An inclusivity read checks a manuscript for anything that could have slipped in due to unconscious bias.
Everyone has biases and it takes a lot of work to challenge them. I have several years' experience examining books for inclusivity, so can help you make your book more authentically inclusive.
It's important to have books checked for inclusivity at an early stage. An inclusivity read will highlight 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.
The process not only helps make books more inclusive, but provides a learning opportunity for authors, editors and publishers.
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. 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 considered research to ensure you are accurately representing a certain facet of diversity, and should be done while the manuscript is still being written or in early editorial stages.
An inclusivity read builds upon that work. It cannot, however, replace a sensitivity read, which is why both are important.
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 also offer authenticity reads (from lived experience) for:
Anxiety disorder and panic attacks
IBS and food intolerance
Vasovagal syncope (fainting)
Living abroad (I've moved from US to UK to Germany)
I approach all of my editing and inclusivity reads with the understanding 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. Because normalising an inclusive and diverse world in children’s books will help tackle prejudice and build a better future for the next generation.
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.
As we continue to work through these changes in the industry, inclusivity reads remain 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.