The other day Kindle sent out a note suggesting we authors optionally “age rate” our books. I thought I’d share it. I’ve removed the superfluous and “personal” parts and screen captured the core of it:
Kindle sends out lots of stuff – some useful, some not. But this just seems a sloppy tech issue from their end. There’s a straightforward reason I haven’t chosen an under-18s level for my novels and Kindle knows it already.
Surely I’m not going to pick even an optional grade range considering I listed the books within Kindle as for 18 and older?
I wouldn’t even go for “Grade 12.” That’s the last year of U.S. high school, and therefore includes mostly 17 year olds. I am very uncomfortable with even that age as a minimum for my books.
The main characters are adults. (Yes, there are some under-18s, most notably Aurélie; but they have only bit parts and are treated as “the kids.”) The overall story is not fantasy-based. The books contain occasional foul language (including the “F” word), plenty of alcohol consumption (and some drunken behavior), smoking, sex, and hints at violence (although no actual brutality is presented in the texts). All in all this is an adult world, seen through the eyes of adults, and not a “coming of age” exercise.
I believe all of that places the novels on a maturity level adults are much better equipped to understand and appreciate. I am aware I have previously noted I believe as Americans we overly “shield” our older teens. Yet I do feel that there has to be a line – albeit an arbitrary one because that’s all we’ve got. As authors, we should know where our work sits either side of it.
I am no expert on Young Adult books. What I glimpse is said of various massive sellers is they are often termed “dystopian” and “dark.” Ironically, while my books don’t seem to fall into those “categories” they are in my opinion definitely not Young Adult reading.
In the end, my final rule of thumb is my English niece. She’s 17. I would not want anyone her age reading my novels.
Have a good day. It’s Friday! 🙂
UPDATE: April 25: It’s worth scrolling down as well to read especially the first couple of comments. The second is more from me.