Let´s Talk Trigger Warnings ( An Answer To The Tattooed Book Geek )

A post about a blog post I recently read from the awesome Drew @The Tattooed Book Geek and am too ashamed to leave a lengthy comment ( as I´m positive I´ll either blow up his comment section, his WordPress account or WordPress in general ).

Earlier today I spotted Drew´s post, Let´s Talk Trigger Warnings, published in a Facebook group and just had to drop my drill ( yes, I was drilling… making a greenhouse, y´all ) because I´ve become a new fan of Drew´s and will literally stop whatever I´m doing to read his blog posts.

Whatever you do I would advise you to read Drew´s post ( click here to read ) before continuing with mine as his post is a) much better, b) more diplomatic, and c) worthy enough to shower with chocolates.

While reading his latest update I couldn´t prevent the smile from growing on my face. Trigger warnings for books.

A subject many book lovers LOVE to argue over ( myself included ).

I think it´s hard to write about your opinion on the matter because the risk is just too high. You risk losing followers. You risk your reputation. You even risk friendships. But on the flip side – You might also gain new followers, your reputation might glow and you might make new / more friends if you state your opinion on controversial subjects. Either way- there´s no telling what´ll happen. Guess it´s only fair to try and see where your opinion will take you, right?

Where were we? Aah, yes, Drew´s trigger warning post. Right.

Before I start agreeing or disagreeing with Drew I think it would be wise to know where I stand on the matter.

Trigger warnings / warning labels do nothing for me. I´ll aknowledge them but they don´t sway my interest or reading choices. Trigger warnings of all sorts don´t influence my book purchase what so ever because I don´t care for them. In that fragile moment before buying a book I read the synopsis and already have a rough idea on what the story is about and piece the rest together. I don´t need to know more. Should a subject I don´t necessarily like pop up then that´s just the way it is. I have no one to blame. Not me, not the author, not the publishers or even the book itself.

Now, let´s cover up Drew´s points on trigger warnings.

On a Twitter post of his he asked if people included trigger warnings in their reviews.

I wish I had seen that Twitter post ( I didn´t because I suck at Twitter ) because I would have voted with “No”, I don´t include trigger warnings in my reviews and as Drew, I won´t start including them, either. I will give a vague description on what the book entails in my review ( e.g. It´s a dark romance with steamy scenes ) but I will not go out of my way and include a warning label for my reviews. Pick out what you like out of my review and decide for yourself. While many of the world´s population feels triggered… many also don´t. And everyone has the option to follow or unfollow me, depending on what my content did for the readers.  I won´t waste my time apologizing to sensitive / or triggered people for expressing my thoughts. Call me rude, crude, insensitive, mean… I refuse to walk on egg shells for the sake of likes or out of fear of not wanting to make someone suffer more ( the reason for that is below ).

Here´s the thing- I can´t tell the difference between someone who truly has a mental illness or suffers from PTSD and who just claims to suffer from it because they can´t tell the difference between a a dislike and an illness. I can´t smell through my laptop screen who´s just being sensitive or who´s truly struggling. Not everyone reveals their life story online and I don´t expect them to, either. I have no problem with the trigger topics Drew listed and I run my blog with what feels comfortable for me. I will voice my likes and dislikes ( e.g. I hate when religion is included in romance novels /I love second chance romances ) but I will not shy away from “trigger” topics. This is just me. I can´t speak for others. I think the main problem with this IS because it´s hard to tell the difference between just being sensitive and really suffering. My heart goes out to those who truly suffer but I have no sympathy for overly sensitive people who just don´t like a topic.

Authors these days include trigger warnings for a few reasons:

  • They want to prevent angry and potentially harmful reviews for their books. This can damage sales as many “civilians” ( non book bloggers ) just look at the star ratings and hardly ever read the review behind the rating
  • Because they can´t know who´ll be triggered by what and to what level they´ll be triggered. This is something authors need to realize that they can never win at. Whatever they include there will always be the 1 asshole demanding a refund or bashing a book for the tiniest issue THEY had.

 

And there are authors nowadays who include so many trigger warnings that it can almost be seen as a major spoiler.

“This book contains age gaps, adultery, alcoholism, sexual assault. Extreme graphic scenes.”

A field trip for me, as I´m a reader who actually wants these topics to be woven in to a story. Imagine my disappointment when I read about the age gap of 10 years ( 26 and 36 is not the end of my world ), the adultery turned out to be a simple peck on the cheek ( again, not cheating for me ), the alcoholism was a case of the Hero having a weekend drinking spree ( you are not immediately an alcoholic if you drink alcohol over the weekend ) and the sexual assault was the Hero farting the wrong way ( in my opinion ). And what about the extreme graphic scenes? Well, folding laundry can be graphic, too.

In short: The book was about a couple who lived and loved until he cheated, then he partied, tried to get back with the Heroine, was successful and they had steamy sex and remarried. The nutshell synopsis / trigger warning.

My point is- authors are often too careful for no greater reason. They want to play it safe because they don´t know who will be triggered when and for what reason. This is not the author´s fault. The problem is with the readers. Authors know this. Readers don´t. They refuse to see the difference between what Drew mentioned as Reality vs. Fiction.

To Drew´s question:

Bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages too and I’ll ask, do you think that age has any influence on the attitude towards trigger warnings? Do you think that older bloggers are less inclined to include trigger warnings in their reviews and have a different attitude towards them than, say, younger bloggers? Or, is the age of the blogger irrelevant?

Yes and no. I think it has a lot to do with age and generation and also a lot to do with one´s personal mindset. I´m an 80´s kid born into the military life. Without wanting to bore you- The first half of my life was anything but easy. Now, I´m 36 and can say that I don´t have the energy to deal with most of the shit younger bloggers deal with- ergo: the reason why I can´t relate to most younger book bloggers. Sometimes I sit here and read reviews and think “Please, find Jesus.” just because I can´t understand WHY certain topics ( usually the topics I consider to be peanuts ) bother them so much. But then on the other hand, I´ve met young book bloggers who are genuinely level headed, who publish really great reviews and give excellent explanations on their feelings and thoughts in a mature way. So, I definitely have a more of a “kiss my ass” attitude and that, in my opinion, has to do with a combination of the above. Lol

Trigger warnings genre specified? Pfft. Part of me wants to yell “YUPP! OVER HERE IN THE ROMANCE DEPARTMENT BIG TIME TRIGGER SALE. GET ALL FOR THE PRICE OF 1!”

Does anyone remember the case back in 1992 ( if you don´t remember then keep reading. I was 10 back then and still remember it as if it happened yesterday. My dad bitched so much about this )?

An older lady sued McDonalds because she spilled hot coffee on her lap. For me, that was an epic moment because even then I asked myself if the lady was unaware of the fact that coffee is hot. Coffee = Hot. Even older people know this. Which brings me to my point:

Readers of certain genres KNOW what type of book they´re getting themselves in to. They should NOT act surprised when something genre related pops up in the story.

YA – You´ll more or less be confronted with young adult problems. Stuff you wished you could still consider as a problem. Angst, love, drama…

Erotica – I really hate to break this to y´all… but there´s a 100% chance of sex being included in erotica novels. Lots of it. 3 scenes per chapter if you´re lucky. Don´t expect to find a greater purpose in eroticas. Very few have sex AND an actual story.

Romance – This is where all the fun can take place. Be prepared- you might be confronted with at least 2 trigger topics you react to.

Fantasy – This is where the gate is kept wide open because anything is possible for fantasy novels.

Horror – Boo!

Thrillers – Well, let´s see…. blood, death, suspense,…

A reader has a rough idea what they´re getting in to when picking a genre. Should a reader need more details then a visit to Goodreads has been claimed to be helpful.

I don´t think there are more trigger warnings for certain or specific genres. My wild guess is that all suffer from the same issue.

Now, to answer Drew´s final questions:

My thoughts on trigger warnings are: If you feel you need to include them then go ahead. Just ask yourself WHY and for WHO you are including the warnings. If you don´t feel the need to include them- even better. Do I think reviews need trigger warnings? Absolutely not. Entertainment needs no warning. Are trigger warnings important? HA! In some cases, yes. Other cases, no.

Here´s a small ( and sadly true ) example of  books that have a certain trigger warning but don´t need them.

LGBT, LGBT+…

I once had a heated discussion with a book blogger on her distaste for gays in romance novels. Look, this is not an issue of liking a topic or not. This is a matter of humanity. She wanted a warning beforehand to not be confronted with what she believed is a mentally unstable person.

Although we live in 2019 there are still youngsters who believe the LGBT community should be locked up and treated…. preferably with a cross and a priest. To demand a warning label for a book that has a sub character who´s gay just shows what type of person you are. You don´t have to like LGBT romance novels but you don´t have to voice your small minded and hateful opinion in your review and demand a trigger warning.

I would rather not read romance novels that have children included. And now that we know this, what are we going to do about it? What can I or you buy with this information? Nothing. The reason for my dislike is simple: I have kids. When I read I want to mentally escape motherhood for a few hours. This does not mean I´m triggered. It also doesn´t mean I´m giving a book with kids a lesser rating. And PLEASE- Do not think I don´t love my kids because of this. I´d just prefer to read a romance novel without kids involved. Nothing more. Nothing less.

 

Dear Drew,

I thank you loads for the awesome blog post you´ve written. I applaud you for being diplomatic in every way possible and for pointing out what the true issues are.

I agree with 95% of your post and am looking forward to read more!

PS: See why I couldn´t comment on your blog post? Lol

Keep it up.

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Pros and Cons Of Co – Book Blogging

To be a single book blogger or to co – book blog….

It´s that one question that occupies a book blogger´s mind at least once in their book blogging career, no matter if they´re a single book blogger or not.

Should I blog alone or should I team up with a friend and co – book blog?

 

Unfortunately, I don´t have a simple answer for that question. It completely depends on the book blogger. Either a person is the type to be a co – blogger or they aren´t.

Both are acceptable and both seem to work wonderfully. There are single book bloggers doing all kinds of wonderful work with their blogs and there are book blogs who have 2-4 book bloggers working together, publishing a great mixture of content.

Despite both, the 1 – man – show and dream – teams being wonderful, they each have their downsides. Let´s do a quick breakdown to show the differences between the two by listing the pros and cons for being a single book blogger and for co – book blogging.

Pros for Co – Book Blogging

  • Spend more time with your bestie / friend and books
  • Blog content uploads more frequently ( more reviews, more promo, etc )
  • Include multiple topics to a blog
  • Divide blog activities ( give each book blogger a specific job / role, e.g. 1 concentrates on social media, 1 focuses on managing the site )
  • Networking is easier
  • Save time in many areas

 

Cons for Co – Book Blogging

  • Sharing 1 site
  • Not being in full control
  • Wasting time waiting for feedback
  • Not being aware of all blog activities ( social media, chats, author convos, etc )
  • Spending too much time with your bestie / friend
  • Uploading too much blog content

 

Pros for Single Book Blogging

  • No site sharing
  • Knowing what´s uploaded at all times
  • Freedom to make decisions
  • Not spending too much time with your bestie

 

Cons for Single Book Blogging

  • Networking is slow
  • Working all platforms alone
  • Less blog content
  • Waste time procrastinating

 

To sum this up – It all comes down to what a book blogger prefers. To what works best for a book blogger. Some enjoy having the company of like – minded people ( let´s call them besties for everyone´s sake )  while working on a single site.

There are many positive sides to co – book blogging, especially when there´s a huge goal they want to reach. May that goal be as simple as getting exposure or something as huge as becoming the world´s best book blog… When 2 or more book bloggers put their heads together they can achieve a lot more in a shorter amount of time.

It´s a simple fact that when you regularly upload content and divide blog work then you get more done. More reviews can be uploaded. You get more out of everything. There´s hardly a chance to become overwhelmed ( keyword: hardly )

But there´s one thing co – blogging doesn´t allow and never will: Being able to have full control.

This is where co – blogging might not be the right choice for someone who is a control freak or for someone who loves their independence.

Yes. You have to get back with your co – bloggers when you have an idea that might work for the blog.

No matter what kind of book blog system you work. No matter how tolerant your co – blogger might be. It doesn´t even matter if you say you´re best friends. There´s no way around the bush when it comes to making decisions regarding ANYTHING about the blog. You have to talk about your ideas / plans with your co – blogger. You have to, both, be on board with everything discussed before anything is published. And if not then you have to compromise. While that might not be seen as something negative for some book bloggers… it can become taxing when 2 ( or more ) can´t come to an agreement after a while.

It´s what I would call `restricted creativity`.

Of course, there are book bloggers who co – blog and make it all work.

“We do whatever we want, when we want, how we want… Our only goal is to have fun.”

And that´s perfect. If it works well then everyone co – blogging that way has my full support.

Like I´ve mentioned before – Co – blogging works out beautifully for some people and you can see that love on their blogs.

 

As for the sorry single book bloggers….

 

There might not be many positive sides to book blogging alone but there is one tiny thing that outweighs everything else.

The freedom of creativity.

Single book bloggers don´t have to ask for permission or run their ideas by someone else when it comes to designs, blog posts, social media posts, etc.

Yes. Networking is slow. Actually, it´s slower than slow. No single person can work as much as co – bloggers. Not unless book blogging is a full-time job for them, that is.

Single book bloggers will most likely post 2 reviews a week instead of 4.

And when a single book blogger becomes overwhelmed with blog work  then they know it´s their own fault and no one else´s. They can´t blame the co – blogger because there isn´t one available ( something co – bloggers occasionally do is shove the blame back and forth ).

Of course, all the slow networking and uploads doesn´t mean a single book blogger can´t achieve a lot or reach their goals. They can and actually do it.

Co – blogging with a friend is not always easy, either. It´s all about being able to find a common ground to work on and compromise.

I´ll say it again ( because this can never be said enough )… It all depends on the person who blogs. Co – blogging is wonderful and works for hundreds of bloggers. And being a single book blogger isn´t for everyone, either. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Co – book blogging or not – both have nothing to do with having / not having team working skills. Book blogging is a hobby for the majority of us all. You either want to share your hobby or not.

 

As for myself – I´m an ex – co – book blogger who now blogs solo.

While I definitely loved the positive sides from co – blogging I couldn´t help but feel the burden of the negative sides. I loved sharing the blog and dividing the blog work but I absolutely hated it when I had to wait for approval and not having my own voice.

Because when you share a book blog ( or blog in general ) only one voice exists. And that voice is the blog´s voice. There can be 2, 3, 4 or even 5 people sharing a blog…. the strongest voice is the brand itself and not the individuals who run it.

That´s the main reason why I left my first blog after 6 years.

Right now, I can say that being a single book blogger works for me better than co – book blogging. I just love my freedom.

 

What did we learn today?

That no matter what type of book blogger you are, you´re still awesome. You´re a great addition to the book universe whatever you decide to do.

 

Thank you for reading this post. Any feedback on co -book blogging or going solo is much appreciated.

Hope you all have a wonderful day! ❤