So let’s talk about the different levels of content warnings and how you can approach them with your books.
Level Zero – no content warnings
Level One – the most basic warning possible
Ex. “This content might be upsetting for some viewers”, “sensitive readers stay away”, “viewer discretion is advised” with no additional information
This tells me basically nothing.
Level Two – broad and generic content warnings
ex. rape, pedophilia, violence with no information as to who is involved (main vs side character), whether it is mentioned or graphic, etc.
This is more useful, but we don’t know if things are happening on page or off, if it’s something we’re going to have to experience via the POV we’re reading, etc.
Level Three – including less common content warnings
ex. eating disorders, specific hard kinks, harm to an animal or child, etc. with no information as to who is involved (main vs side character), whether it is mentioned or graphic, etc.
This covers a lot more information, but again, we don’t know if it’s on page or off, etc. As an example, I read one book where the author warned for SA with no additional information. It turned out that it was between the romantic leads, rather than in the FMC’s past, or involving an antagonist. This is where additional information would have saved me a DNF.
Level Four – Providing some level of explanation
ex. mentions of violence vs. graphic depictions of violence, “X happens off page”, X occurs between Character A and Character B.
This is where things start to be really beneficial for conveying information, in my opinion.
Level Five – Including additional information
ex. warning list, kink list, trope list, disclaimers, etc. to give a rounded explanation of your story.
This provides a ton of relevant information to readers.
Once again you are obviously free to use any level of content warnings that you decide is best for you and your books. My personal favorite is when we get on par with AO3 tags because that is going to give me the most information and is going to much better ensure I’m going to enjoy my reading experience.