I was just participating in the weekly Twitter chat #NALitChat this evening and we discussed content in New Adult books and what is appropriate or not. I pointed out that readers should always be warned about a book’s content, because some may not be all right with what is written.
No matter the age of some people, book scenes that have swearing, violence, explicit sex, disturbing or controversial events are not everyone’s cup of tea. I truly believe it is best to give your potential readers a heads’ up on what they are getting themselves into. The last thing you would want is a reader complaining about being uneasy with certain content in your book.
Now, some might say, “that’s their problem” and ignore complaints. I find that attitude to be arrogant, which could turn off your audience. Yes, you are writing what works for you, but it is your audience that will read and potentially praise your work, making all those long hours worth it. I think a good writer has to be a good listener, though not necessarily a slave to their readers’ demands. There is a thing called compromise, and writers have to do that with their audiences.
Now, others might say, “many adult oriented books are R rated these days anyway”. The may be true, but that doesn’t make it an excuse. Not everyone is pleased with the increasing violence, profanity and sex in not just books, but movies, music and TV. Even a 20-something may be uncomfortable with such content and they could be fairly open-minded. So don’t get cynical and assume everyone will okay with four letter words in every sentence or sex scenes that have far too much TMI, because many are not.
This is why I believe it is a good idea to put warning boxes on all book blurbs. Ratings like G, PG, NC-17 and everything else is not necessary. But a heads’ up is important. You warned anyone interested in your book and then it is their decision to read it or not.
Now of course, seeing a warning about gore, explicit sex or disturbing scenes may entice someone who loves that stuff to read your book just for that content, forget about the storyline. If that’s the case, well, laugh your way to the bank! You can’t control the reason why someone is buying and reading your book, so just count the number of sales you have in the meantime.
Then again, you may want someone to truly appreciate your plot and characters, so laughing to the bank may not be the solution. But that’s a different topic for the future 🙂
Furthermore, if you do warn potential readers about the content of your work and they still complain about it, then I would agree that is their problem. You made it clear that your novel is not for everyone and they still chose to read your book. It was up to them to ignore the warning signs, so I would say they have no right to complain about what they came across. You can only just shrug and carry on. You did what you could
So that is what I have to say about addressing graphic content in novels. Now, I am going to readjust my book description so everyone who reads them would understand what they will be reading…and they better not bitch and moan about it either! 🙂