Thursday, August 18, 2011
Should Books Be Rated?
When you go to the movies, you have the advantage of knowing (somewhat) what to expect in advance by the ratings system. Right? My question for today is whether or not books should have some sort of rating system as well.
On the whole, I've been getting really positive reviews for Yesterday's Tomorrow. I'm grateful and humbled and excited that so many people have enjoyed the story. However, I was recently asked a question that kind of blew me out of the water. This particular reader, while she had enjoyed the story and gave it a good review, seemed perturbed by the actions of the characters, especially considering this was a "Christian" book.
Well. Okay. I'm not going to rant about how I feel about the expectations put on the Christian publishing industry in general. Or the expectations that seem to be out there for what should be 'acceptable content' for a Christian book. I am very blessed to be with a publisher who sees beyond the pasture out back and wants to venture forth into the town. Perhaps even into the saloon. Horrors.
But I'll talk about all that another day. Maybe.
I hear a lot said about authors knowing their readers - we're supposed to know who we're writing for and what they expect from us. This is difficult, especially for a first-time author like me, who has no idea who will pick up my book.
Rather, I say reader know your author.
This will happen over time. You know what you're going to get if you buy a book by John Grisham or Nicholas Sparks. You know what you're buying when you purchase a book from Barbour or Steeple Hill, for example.
When you see my book, you may not be familiar with OakTara Publishing. You probably have no idea who Catherine West is or what my books will be like.
All you know is that my book is being sold as "Christian Fiction".
What are you expecting?
If you haven't read Yesterday's Tomorrow yet, I will tell you right now, you will not get fluff. You will not get cookie cutter characters who always do the right thing and never fall into sin.
If that's the kind of read you're after, you won't like my book.
I suppose there are always going to be people who will be offended no matter what. You can't please everyone. I know that and I'm certainly not trying to. In fact, I'd rather those folks not even read my book if they're going to be scarred for life by it.
But really, would it help to have a sticker on the back saying "This book contains scenes that may make your eyebrows shoot skyward and your jaw drop..." Really?
I am a Christian. My book contains Christian themes. But I don't think it's fair to lump all "Christian Fiction" Into one category. I retain the right to be different.
That doesn't mean there isn't the same message. It's just written in a different way.
To be honest with you, I'll give my book a PG13 rating.
What do you think?
Posted by Catherine West at 9:40 AM