There’s some discussion about trigger warnings on books. Should you include them for your book? The answer is “Maybe”. Let’s take a look at what kind of content may require trigger warnings.
I understand that there are some readers who go overboard, wanting warnings for ridiculous things or not reading the book description to see a warning and then complaining there wasn’t a warning. Some warnings might limit your marketing options with libraries and schools. Things like this can make authors feel like they’re in a no-win situation or overwhelmed by the struggle to decide whether or not you need a trigger warning.
I’m not suggesting every story or scenario needs a warning. Your genre and blurb should give readers a general idea of what to expect. And, a well written story will give the reader a lead up to disturbing events, assuming the reader isn’t so engrossed (or oblivious) to notice. But, your genre and the indication of mature content is not always enough. I’m asking you to consider adding trigger warnings – or at least making it clear in your blurb – if your story includes any of the following:
- Abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual)
- Child abuse/pedophilia
- Self-injurious behavior (ie. self-harm, eating disorders, etc.)
- Kidnapping, forceful deprivation of/disregard for personal autonomy
- Depiction or denial of oppression, marginalization, illness, or differences
- Anything that may trigger phobias or OCD thoughts
If you write Young or New Adult books, there are additional issues that need to be considered. For example, the words stupid and dumb are generally deemed “normal” or “lesser offenses” by older audiences (and authors), however today’s society considers these words slurs.
Young and New Adult
- Sex (even consensual)
- Drug use
- Descriptions and/or pictures of medical procedures
- Descriptions and/or pictures of violence or warfare
- Death or dying
- Shaming, hatred, and -isms (ie. racism, fat shaming, anti LGTBQ+ views etc.)
- Scarification (body modification created by cutting, scratching, etching, or burning designs, pictures, or words into the skin)