Writing a Dream

Rating Books

Something I’ve actually come to love about writing is deciding which material to use as opposed to other. What I mean by this is, as like movies, books are becoming something that can actually be rated depending on the content that is included in the work.

Why did I start using my own personal rating system?

It all comes down to who our target audience is. Example. I purchased and started reading a book solely on a recommendation from a friend. They said it was a good story and a well created world. I thought sure! I’ll give it a go. And they were right…to a certain degree. They story started a little slow, but that’s most books for you. I kept with it and the characters started developing nicely. I was starting to get into when like a bolt of lightning, I found myself in the middle of a hardcore sex scene.


I am the kind of person that feels people should write whatever they like to write. If you have a knack for action or fantasy or erotica, go for it. I will never ever tell people to censor themselves. If you like to include a lot of adult language or violence or sex in your work, I say do it.

If I am all for writing whatever people like to write, then why the self imposed rating?

Sure, most of what is written and released is categorized in various genres. We have thrillers, we have drama, we have romance, sci-fi, etc. The issue I found is that just because a work is categorized doesn’t always tell you what exactly is in the finished work. I know if a book is released within the Erotica genre chances are I am going to come across a few very detailed sex scenes. On the other hand, I may pick up a thriller and have gobs of violence and other things I may not have expected. The same can be said of Sci-Fi. I’ve watched many sci-fi movies and virtually all of them have a certain level of violence in them. Some of it is stylized while parts are grotesque and graphic. I’m not in the least surprised by what I read in books today. Not in the slightest, but being a writer I want to me sure that anyone that picks up my book…and I do mean anyone…will have an idea of what to expect while reading my work.

I don’t do spoilers. I hate those. There is nothing worse than reading a book only to have someone or something spoil the ending. This is not what I am going for. Here is an example of what I have done to self rate my work before release:

(This eBook carries a voluntary rating of 16+ for language, some graphic violence, some crude humor, alcohol use, drug references, and scenes of dramatic peril.)

As you can see, I didn’t include any spoilers so the story is still intact. All this does is give a heads up of what to expect when you read this particular work. The age noted is also key. It is there to give you an idea of what ages should be considered when giving my work to a minor. As you can see, I self rate similar to how movies are rated. You know when you go to see a PG-13 movie that teens will probably not see or hear anything they’ve not come across before. Anything under that age, well you may want to reconsider or join them for the picture. I do the same thing with my books.

Keep in my I rate my books based on my own opinion. In no way should my rating by taken as gospel. I’ve made it no secret that I do not have kids. I do however have nephews and nieces and I think about how they might react to something they see in a movie or on TV. Would I not want them to see certain things? Of course not. I wouldn’t want to expose them to graphic violence or sex. Besides, it’s not my call what they get to see. The call is up to their parents. Their parents are given a little guide with which to make a decision. Books are changing just as TV has. 25 years ago it was rare to see graphic violence or hear certain cuss words on television. That’s all changed now. Still, as you watch TV you probably notice the little TV-14 in the corner of the screen before the show (or another similar rating).

It’s not about censorship. It’s about keeping people informed. I will continue to write about things I want to write about and if they are violent and full of sex, so be it. That being said, I still like to give a heads up to people so they know what they are getting into before they start reading.

Here are examples of other ratings I’ve seen in books, all voluntary.

From “We Are All Retarded” by Ruby M Jones –

This electronic book voluntarily carries a warning of ADULTS ONLY. The material in this book is intended only for mature audiences. Persons under the age of 18 should not be allowed to read or possess this book because of its frank and explicit nature. Parents are strongly cautioned and warned that this body of work is not intended for children.

Here is the one I put in Rumbling Heart.

This book carries a voluntary audience recommendation of 14+ for language, adult situations, violence, alcohol use, and scenes of dramatic peril. Parents should exercise caution when purchasing this book for younger readers as is it not intended for those age 13 and under.


One response

  1. I was thrilled when I saw you voluntarily rated your books. I think this is an excellent idea, but I see very few writers doing it. I agree with you–the sole reason I support the practice is because I think readers, like movie goers, should be informed and have an idea of what they’re getting into. It not only helps them make buying choices (especially if they’re buying for a minor), but it also increases your chance of finding the right readers. If I personally were to get into a book and find unexpected explicit content, I’m very likely to rate the book low. Is that unfair? Maybe a little bit, because I’m probably not the author’s target audience. But I have to be honest when I review and recommend books to my friends, and content is a big issue for me. Authors would eliminate some of this by being more upfront about their content.

    Thanks for blogging about this!

    September 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm

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