~Blogger Bits~ Trigger Warnings

Blogger Bits is new a feature that myself and a group of fellow bloggers will be tackling twice a month.  Topics will vary, but will always have something to do with the book or blogging world.

Have a suggestion for a topic?  Leave us a comment to let us know what you’d like to see us chat about!



The use of Trigger Warnings is kind of a hot topic in the book word lately.  Should authors include trigger warnings in their synopsis?  What constitutes a trigger for readers?  What types of warnings do readers want?  What type of warnings are authors willing to give?

I have a lot of my own thoughts and opinions on this topic, which I can’t wait to share.  I also reached out to the author community to see how they felt about trigger warnings to get some differing view points on the topic.


So, What is a “Trigger Warning” exactly.  According to Merriam-Webster, it is a statement cautioning that content (as in a text, video, or class) may be disturbing or upsetting.

As a reader, I think there are times where this type of warning can play an important role in a book synopsis. 


Personally, I feel like a book that includes either extreme violence or graphic sexual encounters should come with an 18 and older warning . . . just like a rated R movie or a video game that has mature content. 


stop-abuse1Having been a victim of a sexual assault, I also appreciate a warning when a book includes a graphic rape scene or sexual violence.  That being said, that type of warning has never caused me to avoid a book.  However, knowing that type of situation is involved allows me to mentally prepare myself when reading. 


Honestly, those are the only trigger warnings I feel an author needs to post.  I feel like those coincide with what we expect from visual media such as tv or movies as well as explicit lyrics warnings for music that is not appropriate for those underage.



While I do not feel an author is obligated to post the following, I can see how readers may be appreciative:

-School Shootings (I understand that falls under extreme violence, but feel that falls in a category all its own since it is typically children involved.)

-BDSM / Erotica / Dark Romance – These are genres many readers choose to avoid.  And, I even cringe at calling it a “warning” as it really is a genre.

gg64829021And, my personal pet peeve, cliff hangers!  While I never expect an author to include spoilers in their blurb or give away their plot, having a cliff hanger can be a huge turn off to readers.  I personally avoid them whenever possible unless I know the next book is already out or in the works.



Here is what the authors I chatted with had to say about their use of Trigger Warnings.

41UFjcA4+VL._UX250_Amber Lacie said she uses trigger warnings to a certain extent, but doesn’t want to give to much away by giving warnings because it can act as a plot spoiler.  While she does not feel that trigger warnings are required because books are listed by intended audience including age range. 18+, she always warns to some degree, because she know what it’s like to experience the anxiety of being set off by a trigger or a situation. 

For dark reads, Amber uses the following warning.  “Due to the dark and explicit nature of this book, it is recommended for mature audiences only.”

You can check out Amber Lacie’s books by visiting http://amzn.to/2gn9vHN.


91KTrTtvoyL._UX250_Shannon Youngblood said she will put minimal trigger warnings on books, but no longer includes whether or not they are an HEA or not. She does feel there are certain subjects (graphic violence, abuse, rape) where trigger warnings are appropriate.

You can view Shannon Youngblood’s books by visiting http://amzn.to/2eJabHC.


61t1GcHliaL._UX250_J. S. Frankel’s newest YA novel includes some gruesome violence near the end and some unpleasant descriptions. (For YA, it’s pretty intense). His editor felt he should include a  warning that only readers 16 and up should read the book.  He has also included a trigger warning for a rape scene in a book, even though it happened “off camera.”   

You can check out J. S. Frankel’s work here:  http://amzn.to/2wWew4F



51GDp7TaeUL._UX250_Sharon Johnson shared that there is an attempted rape scene in one of her books.   It doesn’t last very long but it’s very intense and feels real. She debated if she should put a trigger warning. In the end she did. Sharon said “I didn’t want to be responsible for even one woman freaking out or bringing back bad memories.”  

You can find Sharon Johnson’s work by visiting http://amzn.to/2wWduFU.



91HOLLG4S+L._UX250_Lyssa Cole said she uses a small trigger warning, which is “18+ explicit sex.” She will also include there is “sensitive subject matter” in the blurb is she is worried someone may be upset, but does not go into detail on what the subject matter is.  She doesn’t feel like she needs to include any additional warnings such if the book is an HEA  because she wants people to be surprised by the book.

You can find Lyssa Cole’s work at https://www.amazon.com/Lyssa-Cole/e/B01N5ND2FL.


While I truly appreciated the candor of the authors above, I was a bit surprised at how many mentioned whether or not the book had an HEA was a possible trigger warning . . . I was glad to see that most felt they dd not need to include it.

As a reader, I absolutely adore an HEA, but I don’t feel like that should be a warning, as it can really give too much of the plot away for an author.  Is that a warning that readers really expect nowadays?  Do they not want any surprise at what is coming for the main characters?  Are readers really not willing to buy a good book if it does not end in a happy ever after?



Well, that is my take on Trigger Warnings.  I would love to know how you feel about them.  Please leave a comment and also let us know if you are commenting as an author, reader or both!


Make sure to visit these blogs to see their posts as well!  If you’d like to post about why you blog, tag us so we can stop by!

The Staircase Reader

Red Hot Ink

14 thoughts on “~Blogger Bits~ Trigger Warnings

Add yours

  1. Great Post 🙂 I loved your idea on reaching out and getting the authors views on trigger warnings. I never even thought of doing that. I agree with books having mature content should have ratings. That would make it a lot easier buying novels for my nephew who is in 5th grade but reading at an 8th grade reading level. I have a hard time trusting young adult novels after some that I have recently read, and that is romance, something he doesn’t read. There is no telling what is in the sci fi and dystopian novels he likes and wants. The struggle is real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My struggle with that is very real, as my 5th grader reads at the high school level and wants legit chapter books. I feel I need to read/skim them first because ya is not always ya . . .


    1. Your ideas were greatly appreciated! I know how I view things as a reader and really wanted to know how authors viewed this topic, so I love that so many of you took the time to respond!


  2. Loved this post!! I think we all have triggers some more than others. One of my biggest trigger is the necessary HEA ending. If the book doesn’t have one I will DNF it, no question asked. I would appreciate an author warning me, but the book community is pretty good about putting warning signs out if that’s not the case. And if that’s something authors can’t wrap their mind around, I truly don’t care, because in this case it’s all about MY reading experience.;-) I LOVED your inclusion of authors opinions and what they decided should be warned about – it was very interesting to read. .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read as escapism and love an HEA as well. I enjoy when authors give voluntary warnings such as HEA or no cheating . . . but I don’t feel they should have too if they feel it ruins their plot.

      This is why I loved this topic, though. Everyone has a different opinion and I can see why it is difficult for authors to make decisions about including warnings and how detailed they should be,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so great that you went and asked the sources themselves. Personally, I do not expect a warning for HEA as a reader, but given how I read mostly romance, 99% of the books I read have them. I did, however, include it in my review policy because I already put my heart through the grinder once this year, and the book shredded me to the extent that I couldn’t pick up the sequel if not many months after. I’m not built for tear-jerkers. I need my HEA fix. But as I said, I do not expect it to be stated. Usually from the plot/genre/reviews you can guess if there’s gonna be one or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not one for those ugly cry books either . . . and typically avoid them. I just hate that authors sometimes feel like they have to put warnings about anything that is not happy and shiny in a book. I like a more general warnings work best for me.


  4. Hmm interesting. Something I’d need to figure out for future books since I’m an anti trafficking author. I don’t have any trigger warnings since my age range on my novella is 13+ but it does deal w the subject of trafficking. It just excludes any graphic content though the issue is prevalent and I have discussion questions in the back for future engagement. But if I have any future trafficking books with graphic content, this is something I’d check into! I don’t like reading books with any sort of erotic content so I understand this but it’s why I gravitate toward the teen crowd and not the adult one. I won’t even read any romance books due to it. It’s why I also can’t follow a lot of authors pages because there are a lot of smut book covers and I instantly know there’s going to be erotic content in them. 😢


    1. I think that is what is so tricky for authors. Every one has different triggers and even levels of comfort in what they are willing to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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