Tag Archives: content disclosure

#MondayBlogs Content Disclosures for Novels

11 Jul

Recently, my content disclosure tree for Bad Bloods released by Clean Teen Publishing. What is a content disclosure tree? Well, I’ll leave that up to my publisher to define on their website. (Click here to read the definition. If you want to read my full content disclosure tree for Bad Bloods, click November Rain and November Snow.) I suggest reading both before continuing, but I’m going to write the article as if the links are broken. Clean Teen rates everything based on 4 subjects: violence, language, drug use, and romance/heat level, and you can see my examples below.

Content Disclosures for Bad Bloods

Content Disclosures for Bad Bloods

In summary, Clean Teen Publishing allows readers to understand what they’re picking up when they choose a book—which I completely support for numerous reasons, but I will mainly talk about personal experiences, both from working with readers and from traumatic topics I’ve lived through myself, and how these examples have helped me understand the consideration of a content disclosure.

Starting off at my day job, I help authors find readers interested in their work. One of the topics I always discuss with authors is whether or not there is incest, rape, or other controversial topics in the story. Why? Because many of the reviewers I have worked with requested to know this for various reasons. By talking to numerous readers every day, I started to realize how many readers would prefer to know certain things up front—again, for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s triggering for those with PTSD. Sometimes, they are simply disinterested in that scenario. Sometimes, it’s just a preference of how they are feeling that day. While I’m not one to be against any particular topic in a novel, I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to read about certain topics, especially involving traumas.

That being said, this sort of disclosure hasn’t happened without controversy. Simply Google “disclosing content in novels” or “content ratings for readers” and I guarantee you’ll find a forum discussing the pros and cons of this. The main arguments I see revolve around ruining surprises and the effectiveness of even preventing someone from reading something they won’t enjoy. And that’s what I want to discuss.

First, as a writer who has written about controversial topics—particularly with violence in The Timely Death Trilogy and drug use in Take Me TomorrowI would—by no means—want a reader to pick up one of my works and accidentally be triggered by something. Speaking from personal experience, my mother died from a drug overdose when I was eleven, which is why I wrote Take Me Tomorrow, but through years of counseling, I met many kids like me who reacted very differently than I did. Reading Take Me Tomorrow would be extremely upsetting for them, and knowing what they went through, I would never want to cause them distress about such a personal topic. As a fellow reader, I would also rather find them something else they might like to read.

Granted, I understand the “just put it down” argument, but—at the same time—why can’t we prevent readers from picking up a book they definitely won’t like in the first place? This isn’t about ratings or reviews. This is about caring about your readers’ feelings and time. Now . . . here is where I hear the “but that ruins the surprise” argument . . . which I don’t understand, because—if done correctly—the content disclosure will say the topic, not which character and on which page. Take my full disclosure for example (if you click on this link, it’s at the bottom of the page). Clean Teen Publishing lets us know that November Rain talks about the violence in the book, but it doesn’t say how it plays out. It doesn’t say how it happens or when it happens. It doesn’t even say how much it happens. If anything, I’ve given away SO MUCH more on my own website.

I know I write about controversial—and often violent—topics in my stories, and I, by no means, have an issue with readers knowing that up front, especially because my novels fall under the YA genre, and genres alone don’t warn about the insides. TV and movies have had ratings for a long time, and while I understand that it’s much easier to be surfing channels and accidentally comes across a movie (and a book takes much more time to get into), I think content disclosures can help a large portion of readers find more suitable books that they will enjoy.

Content disclosures can help those that feel like they need it, and those who feel they don’t need content disclosures can ignore them. If you want to be surprised about all the topics, for instance, don’t read the disclosure. It’s as simple as that. At this point, I will say that I don’t think it needs to be an industry standard but rather something that is up to an author and their publisher (and of course, the reader). Personally, I love them. I see too many benefits coming from them for me not to love them. Content disclosures can help those avoiding triggering topics and even help parents choose books for their children that they deem appropriate. Disclosures can help readers find exactly what they’re looking for, maybe even a controversial topic they’ve struggled to find. Everyone who wants them can read them, and everyone who doesn’t want them doesn’t have to use them, but as an author, I’m glad my novels have them.

P.S. On a fun side note, my publisher actually makes these for anyone interested! Click here to check it out.

P.P.S. Original posted here. (I covered The Timely Death Trilogy)

~SAT

Check out my latest interview on the KC Writes Interview Podcast! We discuss publishing, writing fantasy novels, studying poetry, hosting events, and other surreal parts about authors’ lives.

Clean Teen Publishing is hosting their Christmas in July giveaway, and it’s epic! They are giving away a Kindle Fire‬ and up to $200 in cash!!! Check out the details and yes, this giveaway is open for International contestants. They’re hosting a Goodreads Giveaway for Bad Bloods: November Rain as well.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

 

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#SATurdate: Lore, New Office, Paint Swatches, & Snow White

26 Mar

12718001_1008531982527316_2805994555122682398_nI moved this week to a brand-new office! I’m super excited about it. I have a ridiculous amount of room to spread out, and I’m hoping I can get a bigger desk one of these days. My current one was great for my previous, much smaller office, but now I can spin! I need to be able to roll back and forth for no reason other than dramatics. On a side note, my Sticky Notes did not survive the move. I’m challenging my Maggie Stiefvater and remembering that ideas do not make the author, the author makes the ideas. (Check out her article The Disposability of Ideas.) Plus…I sort of cheated and took pictures of them before they were ruined. I’m not quite at Stiefvater’s level. (But, really, who is? She’s a goddess. [Okay. I’ll stop being an obsessive fangirl now.])

What I’m Writing:

993078_1006450089402172_901225323950707552_nSo Take Me Yesterday was put aside this week. I worked solely on the mysterious manuscript known as “D.” I actually wrote D when I was 19, but numerous elements were missing until recently. Now I’m 18,000 words into the rewrite, which is awesome. I have 62,000 additional words already typed from the original manuscript, so it’s really a matter of cutting and pasting and editing and screaming at my 19-year-old self for not figuring out the missing elements…you know…until I was 24. (*Repeats to myself* It’s not a race, it’s not a race, it’s not a race.) I also shared a bit of “research” I was conducting, via my paint pallets. D is an extremely colorful novel. It’s difficult to explain without giving away the plot, but it’s been a lot of fun flipping through the colors while editing old scenes and adding new ones. On a side note, I also took some time to world-build a brand-new novel I shall call S for now. S is—more or less—something I’m currently writing for fun. Like a reset novel. A novel with no pressure to finish or to pursue publication with. Sometimes working on something brand-new with no deadlines or expectations helps me reset my writer buttons. But the more I work on it, the more I love it. </3 Gah! Decisions…

What I’m Publishing:

This week, I shared the content disclosure for November Snow, so I thought you’d like to know our rankings. If you need a handy guide about what these rankings mean, click here to check out November’s Snow disclosure system:

11987_1007269949320186_6557017595173577508_nFirst off, November Snow was rated YA(m) – Young Adult Mature – which means it’s written for a mature young adult audience.

Romance: 2: The romance picks up in book 2, compared to book 1.

Violence: 5: Also, no surprise here. Bad Bloods is a fairly violent duology, revolving around a political debate eradicating an entire group of people, which mainly consists of homeless children…but I promise you, the violence is not as graphic as the original book? Okay. That’s not saying much. But there is meaning behind it. The violence isn’t gratuitous.

Language: 3: Still cursing a little bit…but I mean, you’re talking about kids trying to NOT be killed all the time, so let’s give them break, yeah?

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: 0: No drug or alcohol use in the second part of the duology.

The #1lineWed preview was lines from page 23 or 123. This line is from page 23.

He confessed it like secrets were simply to share.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

I’m reading The Young Elites by Marie Lu! I’m almost finished, and I must say, I definitely love Marie Lu. I was also envious of her trip to Tokyo this past week with Amie Kaufman, author of These Broken Stars (which I also loved). I mean, they went to an owl café. An OWL CAFÉ. This is one of my ultimate dreams. I’m dying of owl envy.

What I’m Listening To:

MxdXdQrTLore is my latest podcast obsession. It’s a bit like Myths & Legends, but shorter and creepier. Lore also focuses on overall myths, like vampires/werewolves, while Myths & Legends discusses tales like King Arthur. I highly recommend both of them.

What I’m Watching:

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime—a.k.a. Snow White with the Red Hair—which happens to be one of my favorite mangas. I had no idea it’d been made into an anime, so I binge-watched season one, and I’m enjoying season two now that it’s releasing. Love them! And Louie. I watched that, too.

การ์ตูน-Fairy-Tail-Zero-ภาคพิเศษต้นกำเนิดเรื่องราวกิลด์จอมเวทย์แฟรี่เทล-280x1722

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I learned how to make homemade spaghetti sauce, which was awesome…and very messy when I accidentally dropped some of the tomato puree on the kitchen floor.

What I’m Wearing:

10399523_1009113812469133_5506393239089674635_nShorts one day and coats the next. Seriously. This winter-to-spring weather is a strange mix of sunshine and misery.

What I’m Wanting:

A new desk! Preferably a larger one. One that will allow me to write on notebook paper and type on my computer at the same time…Oh! And hold coffee. I would REALLY like a nice bookshelf, too, since well—and don’t hate me—my books are sitting on the floor. I have yet to move my bookshelves from my second-to-last move. What can I say? I move a lot.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I bought a new cat, and I named it Happy…after my broomstick, also named Happy, because sweeping made me happy? (I don’t know.) But then my friend showed up and also bought a cat, and upon hearing my name for my new cat, she named her new cat Happy…and none of this made me happy at all.

What Else Is Going On:

Death Before Daylight is on sale for $3.99 right now! That’s pretty neat. That means you can read the entire Timely Death Trilogy for only $8.00…which costs less than one of those novelty horse masks. You know. Those ones.

~SAT

To celebrate, the sale of Death Before Daylight, here’s an excerpt!

DBDcoverShe moved again, barely, but she moved. “I can handle myself in a fight.”

“You’re okay in a fight,” I teased, watching the aggravation flicker over her gaze.

She squirmed again, trying to kick my leg with her boot. “Okay?” she repeated. “Just okay? I do better than okay.” She wasn’t lying. “You would be nothing without my help.”

“Oh, low blows,” I sang, forcing her shadows to solidify again. “You are mad.”

“I’m determined,” she corrected.

“I never argued with you,” I pointed out. “You make me who I am. I wouldn’t be anything without you.”

“Aw,” she cooed, smiling at my words, but right when I thought she was enjoying our time together, she swung her leg over and knocked my torso off her. This time, she was the one on top. “I win.”

I winced, stretching my neck to breathe. “You know, most girlfriends would have thought that was romantic.”

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#WW Writing Tips for Book 2 in the Trilogy

23 Mar

I’ve written a few trilogies and a couple of series. I’ve stumbled and struggled and made mistakes and learned from them. During book one, I’ve worried how to create the world AND focus on a smooth storyline, and during book two, I’ve stood in front of my planning board and worried about how to overcome that bad sequel rep. You know the reputation I’m talking about. Book two must be better than book one, but it cannot outshine book three. In fact, book three is supposed to outshine book one and book two combined. I have bitten my nails over this…and then I realized how silly that was.

Here’s the deal: Book two gets a BAD rep. It is often the most hated book in any trilogy—by writers and readers—because it’s seen as a transitional book, a book that takes the readers from the brand-new world in book one to the mighty explosive ending in book three.

Book two is boring. But it doesn’t have to be.

I honestly believe we are looking at book two in all the wrong ways, so here are some writing tips to consider.

1. Give Book 2 CREDIT

You’ve built a world in book one. You’ve created characters and described a setting and started a story and set up the tension. Book one is the adventure…and then there is book three, the explosive ending. It’s the climax of the series. It’s the ultimate tension and resolution. Book one gets credit for being creative, and book three gets credit for being explosive, so where is book two’s credit? It’s called a transitional book like that’s a bad thing, but I see it as a great opportunity. This is the book where you can focus on the story without worry. You have already built your world and your characters, and while everything is still going to grow, you have much more room to focus on the storyline. Give book two credit for all the wonderful, crazy, and brave elements you’ll finally get to explore in-depth. Let it be important. For me, book two is where my characters are often the bravest, because book two is where my characters DECIDE book three will happen. For me, this is the book I love writing the most. In fact, book three is the hardest for me, because I have to let everyone go. So enjoy book two while you’re there.

2. Consider Your Subgenre

This is completely different scenario, but I’ve spoken with a lot of writers who were absolutely enamored with book one but simply don’t feel the same spark going into book two. Well, maybe it isn’t a trilogy or series. That’s always a possibility. But if you’re sure this is a trilogy and you’re unsure how to continue your trilogy, consider sub-genres. What is a subgenre? Exactly how it sounds. It is a genre that pushes your main genre forward. Think of it like a subplot. In a story, we have a main plot, but then we have subplots or character arcs that push the entire plot forward. In a genre’s case, this subgenre could help tone the novel. Example? So you have a sci-fi book. Analyze your book by stripping out the sci-fi and consider what the plot would be without it. Maybe it’s a thriller. Now look at book two and consider changing it up. Maybe book two will be a sci-fi mystery instead of a sci-fi thriller. It will force your characters into a new situation and mindset, and it might just be the element you are missing to have each book stand on its own. The podcast Writing Excuses is covering the elemental genre right now, so they dance on the topic of subgenres a lot. Definitely recommended!

3. NEVER Hold Back

I'm writing a sequel right now, and I had to change gears 45,000 words in. Embrace it. Pull out those Sticky Notes and map out that madness.

I’m writing a sequel right now, and I had to change gears 45,000 words in. Embrace it. Pull out those Sticky Notes and map out that madness.

Since there’s this expectation that book three MUST be better than book two, I’m terrified when I read articles suggesting authors hold themselves back during the sequel, so that book three will be the most exciting. Bullshit. Absolute bullshit. As I tweeted out during my research of this topic, NEVER hold yourself back. Always write the best book that you can, and worry about “overcoming” book three later. Even if you’re writing book two and it seems extremely explosive, write it. Even if you have no idea what you’ll do in book three, write it. I am an author who believes in trusting your characters. If your story is asking for it, listen to it. Let book two be great. Let book two break the stigma. Let it be the best book in the series as you’re writing it. Write it in the best way that you can. That is the only thing you should be worried about. Everything else can happen later. As an example, I worked with a client who kept worrying about their protagonist. He insisted on killing the villain in the second book. But what will I do in book three? I couldn’t answer that, but I could advise them to try it. They did, and it turned out book three gained a new villain. The protagonist himself. Trust your characters. Trust your work. Give book two its dues. I played with this concept myself in The Timely Death Trilogy. The trilogy revolves around the idea of a “prophecy” and everyone automatically assumed it would happen in book three. Of course readers were quite thrown off when it happened in book two. I wish I could say I planned that from the beginning, but I didn’t. I did, however, listen to my gut. I listened to book two’s heart, and I let it live.

Now, go write book two with confidence and excitement.

If you’re interested, I wrote another article revolving around this topic: Writing Tips: Sequel, Trilogy, Series, Etc. 

~SAT

11987_1007269949320186_6557017595173577508_nThe content disclosure for November Snow released yesterday! Read the details by clicking here.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads:

November Rain and November Snow

Visit the FacebookPinterest, and the Extras page.

#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 12 starts this Thursday at 7 PM (CDT) via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT. What is Author in a Coffee Shop? Just as it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop, people watch, and tweet out my writer thoughts while hanging out with you. I hope to see you there!

SBScoverSince today’s post was about book 2 in a trilogy, here’s an excerpt from Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy:

The lights were a collection of creatures I couldn’t have imagined on my own. Some had three arms. Others had weapons that looked impossible to carry. Their fingernails outstretched like blades, and their flushed faces suggested they were waiting longer than I thought.

“They aren’t human,” Pierce muttered, tensing.

I smirked, fighting the urge to correct him. None of us were.

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#SATurdate: Cassandra Clare, Content Disclosure, and Lemon Cookies

19 Mar

I met Cassandra Clare this week! She is definitely one of my favorite YA writers, so I jumped at the opportunity to meet her. We even geeked out over Twitter before the event, and I had two books signed by her. She is super sweet, and I definitely recommend attending her events if she comes close to your town!

What I’m Writing:

I’m 59,000 words into Take Me Yesterday…which means I’m officially in the last act, and I’ll tell you what, book two is much more twisted than book one (not that anyone has the chance to read book one…but I promise I’ll let you know when I start pursuing publication on The Tomo Trilogy. Right now, I’m focused on getting Bad Bloods out there.) That being said, this sequel is one of those books that I have to keep pushing myself away from my desk and reminding myself that I’m not psychotic…right? I’m particularly loving the new setting in this book, the new characters—especially the focus on female characters—and Sophia’s change in emotional state. But that’s all I’ll say for now.

What I’m Publishing:

Interior

Interior

I received the complete interior design for Bad Bloods: November Rain, and Bogart reviewed it thoroughly. We are both in love. If you read the sneak peek of Chapter Two, then you saw the first chapter from Daniel’s POV. We see him with Old Man Gregory, a man who owns the convenience store, which also serves as an illegal bar (the one I talked about in the content disclosure). Fun fact, I named Old Man Gregory after my older brother Gregory, but the two are nothing alike…even though he would be an old man in 2089. Like 101 years old.

We also received the content disclosure for November Rain, so I thought you’d like to know our rankings. If you need a handy guide about what these rankings mean, click here to read more details about November Rain’s disclosure.

First off, November Rain was rated YA(m) – Young Adult Mature – which means it’s written for a mature young adult audience.

Violence: 5: Um. No surprise here. Bad Bloods is a fairly violent duology, revolving around a political debate eradicating an entire group of people, which mainly consists of homeless children…but I promise you, the violence is not as graphic as the original book? Okay. That’s not saying much. But there is meaning behind it. The violence isn’t gratuitous.

1618672_1003118153068699_7248825728918056648_nRomance: 1: I promise, there is romance in this duology, although it’s more “intimacy” than lust, and the reason for that becomes pretty clear within the first two chapters.

Language: 3: Shit. That’s all I have to say.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: 3: There is an illegal bar the main character attends for supplies, but he himself doesn’t drink. That being said, Diet Coke plays a major role in Bad Bloods as a type of drug, but I think I’ll leave that up for a surprise.

In other publishing news, I updated my author bio, which now includes my obsessions for rooftops, cookies, and murder shows.

This weeks’ #1lineWed preview was “now,” so here is this week’s preview: Her once moonlit eyes were now the dark sides of the moon.

In Bad Bloods, the moon and stars are very symbolic. The children, for one, are homeless, so many of them lived under the sky, and even when they form flocks, they travel at night, so the stars and moon are often the only light they see. Because of this, the symbolism becomes very nature-focused, including…you know…rain and snow. So, you can expect a lot of comparisons to nature throughout the duology.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

1934484_1001844639862717_1406521969915192150_nI finished Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, and of course, I gave it 5 Shadowhunter stars. You can read my full 5-star review here. Don’t worry, it’s spoiler free (including spoilers from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, both of which I highly recommend you read before reading The Dark Artifices.) My favorite quote? And if there were two things he believed were limitless, it was love and imagination.

I also began The Young Elites by Marie Lu, and even though I’m about ten pages in, I love it!

What I’m Listening To:

Gooey by Glass Animals. It will not get out of my head. (Not that I want it to leave either.)

What I’m Watching:

It all started with a little research…and then, I found the perfect murder…and then I found a TV show that talked about said perfect murder…and then I was binge-watching Murder Maps. These things happen.

On a not-so-light note, I also watched The Hunting Ground, the Oscar-Nominated documentary about sexual assault on college campuses. I could say so many things about this documentary, but I think time is better spent if you take an hour out of your day to watch it. That being said, I am a graduate of one of the universities under investigation for Title IX, and I can say that I am not surprised they are under investigation. This is an epidemic for men and women, and I hope the country as a whole can come together to address this issue in a productive way that prevents sexual assault from continuing for future students.

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What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Mango lassi and cream cheese lemon glazed cookies! I also made dark chocolate chip cookies this week too. (I really like my cookies.)

 What I’m Wearing:

Green, for St. Patty’s Day!

What I’m Wanting:

12240913_1000277113352803_4970759992132676648_oHonestly, I want more of those lemon cookies. I already ate them all.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I was a magical general of 13 magical warriors, and we were fighting 13 other magical warriors. (Okay. This is where if I turn a dream into a book I would add more detail, so magical warrior will have to do.) That was when my best warrior went missing for 3 days, and on return, he asked to go on a walk with me. Of course I said yes, because he was my best warrior…and also, he was quite handsome. But he had been brain-washed! And he set me up to get kidnapped…so I was kidnapped by the other warriors, and they sedated me while they were waiting for their general to arrive (to kill me, I assume). But 3 days passed, and one of my warriors showed up to see if I had been kidnapped. Of course they denied it, but I tore out of the sedation long enough to crawl on my hands and knees to get to him. He tossed me Chapstick, but in this world, you ate the Chapstick to get special energy, and upon eating it, I sprang to my feet and ran…right into a shopping mall. (Sorry, my dreams are strange.) In this shopping mall, the cops were standing all around the escalators, talking about how I was most likely to escape there…and I ran right past them laughing! Of course they chased me, but I’d already vaulted over the fountain and headed for my main exit—the women’s restroom. (Fun fact, I’ve had this part of the dream before, and the women’s restroom worked, but this time…) A NO EXIT sign was plastered on the door, and a man was trying to push through it but couldn’t. I didn’t let it stop me. I laughed and went into the men’s restroom…where the exact same exit waited, and then I woke up in real life. I also had a dinosaur nightmare this week…but those are too traumatic to write about.

What Else Is Going On:

As many of you saw at the end of my last article, this was the week that my mom died thirteen years ago. (Thirteen years, that blows my mind.) Spring Break, for many, is a time of vacations and beaches (or snowboarding), and getting drunk on St. Patty’s Day, but Spring Break, particularly March 16, is a reminder of my mother’s sudden death and everything I’ve done since that life-changing moment. I promised myself back then that I would strive to follow my dreams, and I still am. I can only hope that I will continue to keep my promise, and I promise to try my best every day.

Thanks for taking the journey with me,

~SAT

fbcover24

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#SATurday: Content Disclosures for Novels

16 May

#SATurday: Content Disclosures for Novels

This past Wednesday, my content disclosure tree for Minutes Before Sunset released by Clean Teen Publishing. What is a content disclosure tree? Well, I’ll leave that up to my publisher to define on their website. (Click here to read the definition. Click here to read my full content disclosure tree.) I suggest reading both before continuing, but I’m going to write the article as if the links are broken.

yaclose27

In summary, Clean Teen Publishing allows readers to understand what they’re picking up when they choose a book—which I completely support for numerous reasons, but I will mainly talk about personal experiences, both from working with readers and from traumatic topics I’ve lived through myself, and how these examples have helped me understand the consideration of a content disclosure.

Starting off at my day job, I help authors find readers interested in their work. One of the topics I always discuss with authors is whether or not there is incest, rape, or other controversial topics in the story. Why? Because many of the reviewers I have worked with requested to know this for various reasons. By talking to numerous readers every day, I started to realize how many readers would prefer to know certain things up front—again, for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s triggering for those with PTSD. Sometimes, they are simply disinterested in that scenario. Sometimes, it’s just a preference of how they are feeling that day. While I’m not one to be against any particular topic in a novel, I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to read about certain topics, especially involving traumas.

That being said, this sort of disclosure hasn’t happened without controversy. Simply Google “disclosing content in novels” or “content ratings for readers” and I guarantee you’ll find a forum discussing the pros and cons of this. The main arguments I see revolve around ruining surprises and the effectiveness of even preventing someone from reading something they won’t enjoy. And that’s what I want to discuss.

First, as a writer who has written about controversial topics—particularly with violence and language in November Snow and The Timely Death Trilogy, and drug use in Take Me TomorrowI would – by no means – want a reader to pick up one of my works and accidentally be triggered by something. Speaking from personal experience, my mother died from a drug overdose when I was eleven, which is why I wrote Take Me Tomorrow, but through years of counseling, I met many kids like me who reacted very differently than I did. Reading Take Me Tomorrow would be extremely upsetting for them, and knowing what they went through, I would never want to cause them distress about such a personal topic. As a fellow reader, I would also rather find them something else they might like to read.

Granted, I understand the “just put it down” argument, but—at the same time—why can’t we prevent readers from picking up a book they definitely won’t like in the first place? This isn’t about ratings or reviews. This is about caring about your readers’ feelings and time. Now . . . here is where I hear the “but that ruins the surprise” argument . . . which I don’t understand, because—if done correctly—the content disclosure will say the topic, not which character and on which page. Take my full disclosure for example (if you click on this link, it’s at the bottom of the page). Clean Teen Publishing lets us know that Minutes Before Sunset talks about a parent’s suicide. It doesn’t say which one. It doesn’t say how it happens or when it happens. It doesn’t even say how much it is discussed. If anything, I’ve given away SO MUCH more on my website about the topic of suicide in The Timely Death Trilogy and November Snow.

I know I write about controversial – and often violent – topics in my stories, and I, by no means, have an issue with readers knowing that up front, especially because my novels fall under the YA genre, and genres alone don’t warn about the insides. TV and movies have had ratings for a long time, and while I understand that it’s much easier to be surfing channels and accidentally comes across a movie (and a book takes much more time to get into), I think content disclosures can help a large portion of readers find more suitable books that they will enjoy.

Content disclosures can help those that feel like they need it, and those who feel they don’t need content disclosures can ignore them. If you want to be surprised about all the topics, for instance, don’t read the disclosure. It’s as simple as that. At this point, I will say that I don’t think it needs to be an industry standard but rather something that is up to an author and their publisher (and of course, the reader). Personally, I love them. I see too many benefits coming from them for me not to love them. Content disclosures can help those avoiding triggering topics and even help parents choose books for their children that they deem appropriate. Disclosures can help readers find exactly what they’re looking for, maybe even a controversial topic they’ve struggled to find. Everyone who wants them can read them, and everyone who doesn’t want them doesn’t have to use them, but as an author, I’m glad my novels now have one.

~SAT

P.S. On a fun side note, my publisher actually makes these for anyone interested! Click here to check it out.

P.S.S. I reviewed Ex Machina and talked about robots during my latest YouTube video on Coffee & Cats!

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