Are there any, and where can you find them?
March 21, 2018
Rebecca Mikkelson, Chief of Business Development, Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Unfortunately, there is no official standardized rating system for books as there is with movies and television shows. There are several websites, and even publishers, that have their own rating system, so their readers can find books they’re comfortable with.
Why isn’t there a rating system?
While there’s no easily Googleable answer to this question, I suspect that it’s because the ratings for movies are trademarked by the MPAA and TV ratings are owned by the FCC, so they can’t be used by the general public. That, and books are somewhat self-censored by reading level and genre. I have yet to meet a ten-year-old perusing the romance section for any reason other than to giggle at the covers.
Good news! We want to rate our books.
Since there isn’t a standardized rating system for books, it leaves an opportunity for us as publishers to rate our own books, and even others in our book reviews. There’s nothing worse than picking up a book that has a great story only to find that you’re not getting what you expected. We at Authors 4 Authors Publishing want to ensure that our readers find exactly what they’re looking for, whether that means books with blood, guts, and sex, or a clean read with no explicit language in sight.
How we do it
We use a two-part system when rating our books, a general age description and a more detailed breakdown of why it got the general age rating. Keep in mind the general age rating is the youngest age the books would be appropriate for, not necessarily what audience (Children, Middle Grade, Young Adult, etc.) the book is written for. Please note that these ratings are not a commentary on the quality of the work but are only meant as a guide to indicate the kind of content within the books.
Our general ratings go from Children to two adult only categories, Strong Content and Extra Strong Content:
C: Children: This is appropriate for very young children and generally contains no questionable content.
8+: Older Children: This is appropriate for most audiences but may contain mild violence or concepts which may frighten or confuse younger children.
11+: Preteens: This is appropriate for preteens. May contain moderate violence, characters may notice their own bodies changing, or kiss briefly, but there is no other sexual content.
14+: Teens: This is appropriate for most teens. Violence may be intense but is not gory. Sexual content is limited to intense kissing and suggestive language or situations.
17+: Older Teens and Adults: This is intended for older teens and adults. Violence may be frequent or graphic. Sex may occur but is not intense.
S: Strong Content: For adults only. Violence may be frequent and graphic, may contain profanity or frequent drug use. Sexual content may be graphic but mainstream.
XS: Extra Strong Content: This is for adults only. Violence may be gory, frequent, and disturbing. Sexual content may be frequent, graphic, and fetishistic. May contain frequent extreme language. Most erotica and extreme horror fall in this category.
Additional details are added to each age rating based on content in four possible categories: Language, Violence, Sexuality, and Drugs. Milder levels of some categories are used only for lower age ratings. An absence of a category means a story is free that particular content. Each category may be noted by its frequency when applicable. There are two special categories that are included in the detailed ratings, Traumatic Themes and Cultural Controversy, which will not change the general age except in the case of Traumatic Themes upgrading a C rating to an 8+ rating.
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We’ll go over what audience books are directed toward.