What is sensitivity reading?
Sensitivity reading is when a professional reader from a marginalised group reads a piece of work about people from that group, and provides feedback to make sure it comes across as authentic and doesn't fall into stereotypes. An author who's writing outside of their experience – for example, a cisgender (non-transgender) author writing a novel with transgender characters – may want the expertise of someone who has lived experience of that marginalisation to fill in gaps in their knowledge and avoid common pitfalls. Someone who has a marginalisation in common with their character might still benefit from a sensitivity reader; for example, a disabled writer from the US who wants to write about disabled people in the UK may need to know how their characters might navigate the UK healthcare system.
Sensitivity readers are becoming more common in the fiction publishing industry, but this work isn't limited to fiction; non-fiction writers can also benefit from sensitivity reading when writing about marginalised people's real life experiences. Meanwhile, TTRPG and larp designers may need a reader who can consider the impact of mechanics and art in addition to narrative elements and game text.
If you're writing outside of your experience and need someone to make sure you're representing those experiences sensitively, I would be happy to help.
I can consult based on the following lived experiences:
Working with me
In order to get the best out of my work, it would be helpful if you could tell me some detail about what you need in your initial email. Let me know a little about your project, your intended audience, and what identities you'd like help with representing. If there are any specific scenes, characters, or themes you'd like me to focus on, then tell me about those. This will help me to judge whether the job is right for me, and lets me know what to prioritise if we decide to go ahead.
The length of sensitivity reading jobs can vary widely even between two works of the same word count, but you're welcome to set a hard deadline and/or a maximum fee when negotiating our contract. I will then focus on the sections that need the most attention, to ensure you're getting the most out of my work. I'm also open to sliding scale or payment plans for indie creators and marginalised people.
I'm familiar with Microsoft Word, Libre Office, and Google Docs, and can provide my feedback in comment balloons within the project file[s] or as a list of notes in a separate document, depending on your preference. I will also write you a report briefly summarising my work.
"Rowan ... [was] professional, friendly, affordable, and transparent about their process every step of the way, and I found their comments very helpful in making my autistic character much more consistent and authentic. I plan to work with them again on future books, and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quality sensitivity read at a reasonable price." – Mariah Norris, Author of Secrets Like Glass
"Rowan was extremely patient in … Using their experience, knowledge and clear analysis to explain the problems with my work and providing some great ideas in how they could be handled more sensitively. … Rowan consistently gave me reasonable timelines for how quickly they could work and was incredibly transparent about their schedule throughout the process … despite my limited budget they provided first class feedback.
I'd strongly recommend Rowan Pierce for any project that you think may require a sensitivity reader." – Liam Macleod, Author
"Rowan always brings incredible care and precision to their work ... they were able to provide valuable knowledge on LGBTQIA+ issues ensuring we had a balanced and thoughtful final script. They go above and beyond when it comes to their work and are clearly very passionate about what they do. We were extremely lucky to have Rowan onboard for this project and we cannot recommend them highly enough." – Zhang & Knight, Directors of Qweens Speech (2019), produced by Acne Studios for Dazed Magazine