If you write about sensitive topics, you might have heard that you should consider putting a content warning on your blurb. A content warning lets readers know what to expect so that they aren’t shocked, upset, or thrown off after reading your work.
But when should you use a content warning, and how should you do it? Read on to find out.
Use a Content Warning If You’re Writing About Sensitive Topics
In general, if you think people might be seriously upset about your topic, you should use a content warning. But what does that mean?
Obviously, anyone can get upset about anything, and you can’t predict every single thing that could bother a reader. But there are some topics that are more likely to cause people trouble than others.
Here is a list of topics that often upset people and may require a content warning:
- Graphic violence or sex
- Sexual assault or rape
- Domestic violence
How Much of the Book is Devoted to the Sensitive Topic?
The most considerate thing to do is include a content warning any time you have references to a sensitive topic. But if you only have a passing reference, it’s less vital than if the book is ABOUT that topic.
For example, if a character makes a single, non-specific reference to having once been sexually assaulted, that’s less likely to be triggering than a story about a person who experiences that kind of trauma.
Use your best judgment to determine if your content could be potentially upsetting. Ask yourself how you might feel if you experienced the subject being depicted in your book.
Will Putting a Content Warning Up Hurt My Sales?
You may be worried that using a content warning up will scare people away from your book. But there are two things to consider here.
First, no book is right for everybody, and you want to make it as clear as possible what your book is about so that the right readers find it. Content warnings help people determine whether a book is something they want to read. This makes it less likely that you will get one-star reviews from angry or upset readers who got something they didn’t expect.
In addition, sometimes certain topics can be so upsetting to people who have gone through them in real life that it causes them psychological harm. The last thing you want is to hurt a reader, so if you have any concerns it’s better to err on the side of having an unnecessary content warning than to not have one and need it.
Where Should I Put The Content Warning?
The best place to put the content warning is near the end of the blurb. That way, people get an idea of what your book is about and then can consider any content warnings right before they buy.
This is better than putting it in the beginning because if the first thing a potential reader sees is a content warning, that can give them a negative impression of your book and stop them from buying.
Content warnings can be challenging, as can writing the blurb itself. But when done correctly, it can help you sell more books.
For even more tips on selling for authors, grab your copy of our Top 10 Amazon Advertising tips!