Paying Sensitivity Beta Readers

There was a kerfuffle in the queer YA writer Twitterverse a short while back about some service that was offering a sensitivity beta reader service who was paying the actual readers some ridiculously low percentage of the fee they were proposing to charge the authors.  I’m glad that sensitivity beta readers are becoming more widely utilized, but this just illustrates that where there is a need, there are people who will want to profit off the backs of marginalized people.

When I hired a sensitivity beta reader for Surviving the Plague for feedback on my biracial character, I paid about $80, which was less than I thought the reader deserved but literally all I could afford at that time.  For Flight (when I get the revisions done… when I get the revisions started…) I have someone lined up for $200, which makes me feel a little better about myself as a human being.  Ideally, I’d have more than one, but since I’m not making money at writing yet I just can’t afford to.

I know a lot of us who aren’t actually making money at this yet don’t really feel like we can afford sinking ANY money into people to read for us.  But from the other side, a lot of us who are trying to write for a living are trying to pull in money in whatever way we can.  And when you’re looking for someone to give you honest feedback based on their lived experiences, to point out your bias, when they do not know you, not only paying them to educate you, you’re paying for their bravery while doing so.  It’s a tiny bonus that you’re supporting other marginalized writers trying to make a living.

So if you are looking for a sensitivity beta reader, I’d strongly encourage not cheaping out on this.  Pay someone directly.  A lot of writers have blogs where they advertise additional services.  Or at the very least, go through a reputable connections site.  Justina Ireland over at Write In The Margins has a sensitivity reader database that is legitimate.

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