Monday Musings: Reading In The Dark

Monday Musings II

Firstly, Happy Monday! Chile bye…

This Monday’s musings will be short and sweet because I have a feeling that the drama will all go down in the comments.

Movies, tv shows, hell, even video games have ratings and warnings. Should books too?

Is an author responsible, or should be responsible, to disclose if their book contains:

  • A cliffhanger
  • Rape/Incest/Pedophilia
  • Physical abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Infidelity
  • Multiple partners
  • Gore/Extreme violence
  • Any other potentially-triggering circumstance

Personally, I say yes because I’d like to make an informed decision before spending my coins. What say you? Let’s discuss…


20 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Reading In The Dark

  1. I’m not sure what the term responsible means in this context. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had readers go off on me for things that are clearly stated in the blurb. In my book Superstar, the heroine is described as a recovering drug addict. Not just a recovering addict, but “burnt out addict.” There’s no drug use in the book, but people still had beef with it. Others find it offensive that my heroine in Try a Little Tenderness is a stripper. Again, that’s stated clearly in the blurb. I think it’s incumbent upon authors to accurately portray their books in the blurb, and to the degree that it’s possible in the cover art, but it’s also important that readers READ THE EFFING BLURB!

    As for the cliffhanger issue, I think telling people beforehand that it’s a cliffhanger defeats the point of a cliffhanger, does it not? I mean, I’ve not written any (I don’t think), but presumably it’s there to build up suspense and draw the reader into the next book. Or are we talking about something else?

    1. Responsible in this sense means warning basically. Sometimes the blurb purposely doesn’t disclose certain details about a story that some readers may not life-like threesomes for example. Don’t sell me on a story between a man and woman and then you sneak a threesome in there as part of the relationship.

      As far as cliffhangers go, most readers want to be warned ahead of time because they are a source of contention. We don’t always like surprises or want to wait for the conclusion which can often times take months or even years. We’d appreciate a “Part I” or “book 1” at minimum to at least clue us that this isn’t a stand alone, which it seems many readers gravitate towards these days.

  2. Gotcha! I think that’s fair about the cliffhangers. I’m trying to recall if I’ve read any that I didn’t know was a series beforehand, and I can’t think of any. I generally prefer to wait until a series is finished before I buy the first book. I’m neurotic that way.

    It’s always been my understanding that a cliffhanger is a story that’s not finished. Where you literally leave the protaganist(s) hanging off a cliff. If it’s the first book in a series that wouldn’t be the case, unless it’s a serial, but I’m not sure.

    I’m surprised that authors aren’t being straightforward about MFM and the like. At one point I thought that was a selling point! They were very popular. Anyway, yes, I definitely agree that the blurb should

  3. As a reader I would like some type of warning ahead of time especially if there will be any type of triggers, you never know who will pick up your book…what that person went through. It’s just common courtesy and the reader can make an informed decision (based on the blurb or not) to purchase your product. It’s like purchasing any other product, books should not be exempt from this.

    the only thing a author may get a pass on is cliff hangers, honestly I don’t even care anymore if they put them in or not because if I review it, I’m letting my fellow readers know. Will I give away the cliffhanger? no, but I will warn my followers that there is one.

  4. I absolutely HATE cliffhangers!! I will also wait until the series is complete before I begin reading.
    However, I dont mind other surprises. Sometimes it just makes for good reading, the “I didn’t see that coming” effect.

  5. I think trigger warnings are necessary.

    When I say trigger warnings I’m talking about stuff that will legitimately precipitate PTSD. I’m not talking about getting pissed off because a book has cheaters and you don’t like cheaters. I think those are two different things.

    If a book contains rape, dubious consent, incest, abuse, excessive violence, drug abuse, and in some cases, hardcore BDSM, it’s only fair and responsible to tell the reader what they’re getting into. Again, the last thing an author wants is to send anyone into a tailspin.

    Telling a reader whether a book contains IR pairings, infidelity, menages is being generous. I think it’s honestly up to the author to dictate whether or not they want to reveal these sorts of things when promoting their book.

    Even if an author provides a trigger warning or disclaimer, there will still be people who buy it, complain, and then say, “I hate that this book contained *insert thing that enrages you here*”


    1. I agree Harper. I think the term “trigger” which comes from the mental health community has been overused to the point of being meaningless. Triggers aren’t simply something you find distasteful. For instance, I loathe alpha holes. I mean detest them. Alpha holes make a book an absolute wallbanger for me. I will not finish the book. But they’re very popular, and I’d sound like a lunatic if I insisted that every alpha hole book come with a “trigger” warning. Alpha holes don’t “trigger” me. They annoy the all living hell out of me. As a reader who finds that annoying, I make it my business to do my research and know which authors are prone to writing that type hero. I don’t buy those books until I’ve seen a few reviews so I know.

      Violence, especially sexual assault should be disclosed especially if it’s actually depicted in the story. I don’t think it should have to be if it’s merely a part of a character’s past.

    2. Good points. I’ve seen authors get reamed for writing about infidelity or if the couple had anal sex. I’m like really? Where do we draw the line when it comes to disclosure?

    3. Things like a menage, cheating and the such I myself don’t have a problem with. I mean do we give a warning when it’s a white couple? Besides things like this are generally mentioned in the blurb (which btw some folk don’t read, I am guilty of this at times…just saying).

      The lines are blurred really. People are going to complain either way so ultimately its left up to the author BUT some will still appreciate a warning.

  6. This is a little rambling cause it’s Monday and early and my coffee hasn’t quite kicked in.

    I got caught on a cliffhanger book over the weekend. I wasn’t pissed but I would’ve liked to have known that it wasn’t a stand alone novel just so I wouldn’t be like “wait, what?” when I got to the last page and it stated that part two would be released in the next couple of months.

    I don’t have a dog in the fight about warnings, really. I’ve read books with unexpected infidelities and rapes. I think since I grew up sneaking my mom’s hardcore 70s and early 80s romances (hey Rosemary Rogers!) where everything was fair game, there’s little that can shock me when I read a romance novel but I understand for women who’ve been victims of sexual assault, rape warnings on books are much needed and appreciated. I’ve read a few books where there has been cheating and I didn’t expect it but I took it as part of the journey for one or both protagonists to work through before the HEA of the story.

    Really… Anal sex is an issue what people think there should be a warning? :0 Then again, I know there are authors who do menages and stress very hard that there’s no m/m, to which, I’m like “what’s the point then if it’s just running a train on a gal?” but that’s a discussion for another day. 🙂

    Anywho, I’m ok for the most part going in to a book without tons of warnings cause I feel like there should be some surprises to a novel. If you know going on in everything to expect, then it’s sanitizing the experience, and ticking off boxes of what’s to happen. At least for me. I think the only one that should be a warning is rape.

    1. Good points. I do think reading the blurb, the sample (if provided), and the reviews also help to make an informed decision. I think most authors are very forthcoming with their work, and once you’ve read enough of their books or even follow their social media, you kinda know where they’re going with things. At least in my experience…

    2. There was an ePub once who had the most hilarious warnings about various sex acts in their books. I think that publisher is gone now, but I remember the one for anal sex was like two parentheses with an asterisk in a middle so it looked like a behind. That still gives me the giggles. I wish I could find that chart, it was a scream.

      The ePubs do generally put warnings about stuff like rape and dubcon, not to mention MFM and other things folks might be bothered by. I don’t really write anything like that so it hasn’t been an issue thus far.

  7. As a writer, I want my readers to enjoy the experience of reading my books without having to censor myself. On other hand, I come across many “erotica/smut” (#nojudgement) novels who do have trigger warnings. I think those warnings benefit readers who want to avoid that type of material as well as readers who are seeking it. Many things come with warning labels so that people can make informed decisions.

    As far as cliffhangers are concerned, I agree with many of the other comments. A simple line that the book is not a standalone should do the trick. Waiting six month to a year, or even longer for the next installment of something gets old real quick no matter how good the story is. Either have the whole series written and release all at once or reasonably space the releases apart and post the dates.

    1. Yes, yes, yes, yes on the cliffhanger and followup. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back and reread a book cause I’ve forgotten what happened when the next one finally dropped.

  8. I honestly think if there is rape/incest/pedophilia in the topics there NEEDS to be a disclaimer. I just got finished reading a book that had the later as a storyline and I wanted to throw my iPad against the wall that is ish I don’t like among other things 😉!! Also if there is a cliffhanger you should disclosed that because honestly people don’t like spending their money on a unfinished product and lord knows when the author will get back around to finished the story…been burnt too many times by that. An as a author if you don’t inform the readers that you are leaving us with a cliffhanger it does make me side eye their books in the future.

  9. Just me observing. But I swear this is a generational thing. I’ve been reading books for a looooong time and have never been “triggered” by a fictional incident. No, really. I’m not being flip. Has the current generation experienced more abuse than past generations? Are they more sensitive? Be it racial, sexual, physical, drug, domestic abuse, etc. Is it happening more now? I do not think so. We just TALK about it more and tweet about it. Everyone has a horror story that a book could have as a plot. Seems the books that have depictions of triggering events SELL like hotcakes. So somebody is fibbing. Somebody “sensitive” is buying these books.
    As a writer, I feel it gets crazy at times that I have to list possible “triggers.” How? I cannot know what will set someone off. The simple act of having an IR couple sets some folk off and I know for a fact “sensitive” folk read those books. How? Because they read them and then contact the author to COMPLAIN. I ask why did you pick the book? My advice is : READ THE BLURB! If it’s got broken, kidnapped, chick and rugged, rough, tattooed but nice biker guy in it…It’s got a rape/dubious consent scene, physical violence and then some. I DO NOT WRITE THAT. My stuff is tame but because writing has gotten cuthroat, the degree of ratchet has been raised.. The more shocks the better. So now writers are urged to spoil their plots to ensure a reader’s psyche. Again: READ THE BLURB!

  10. I kinda agree with PJ. I’m much more sensitive to domestic violence, rape or dubious consent, but I’m from a generation who actually talked about it. My mother’s family(she’s nearly 49) didn’t talk. About anything. Abuse is widely accepted to my mother, even though she would never allow me to got through it. I’ve never seen my mother in a non-abusive relationship. Sadly, she’s shared with my the abuse she experienced as a child through her teens. And it wasn’t something her mother would’ve wanted to hear.

    But on a lighter note, if I’ve been warned, I may not pick it up, which I guess is better for the author. But apart of me feels like there aren’t surprises anymore in books. Like the first five pages of a book now focus on all the warnings and stuff and by then I’m like…sigh. I’ve had to learn to warn readers in my own books, but what I will say. My first release is upper/mature SFF YA(sorry guys, I can’t help that I also love writing YA XD) and it’s a series that has cliffhanger. No complaints. No one stars about the cliffhanger. Not everyone loved it, but they “didn’t” hate it for it’s ending. But with my erotic romance, while hilarious, the reviews always state they don’t like that it’s two books.

    Or that it featured a cheater. My second duology has vernacular that not everyone liked, and now I fear I have to warn people about that in the future. I wonder if books with just white characters experience this pushback.

    All I can say is, I’d rather warn someone if it’s necessary. I think romance requires it more than other genres, but I’ll know more when I have a more contemporary romance(less sexy) or a YA book that’s not SFF!

  11. For the most part I want to know. Thats part of the reason that I cheat and read the Epilogue. If its an e book I scan a few reviews. It helps with the pocketbook. If there is a topic that’s a no no I don’t want to waste my money.

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