I read your blog post "Content Warning in a Query Letter." My manuscript explicitly discusses child abuse as a subplot, which doesn't appear in the query. I understand that it's best not to add a content warning, so I wouldn't hurt my chances of getting published, but I still believe it's common courtesy to warn the agents of any possible triggers.
In this case, what do you advise me to do?
Thank you so much.
Why do you think it's common courtesy to warn an agent about a subplot?
Your job as a writer Is NOT to guard my mental health.
It's to tell me a great story.
It's to illuminate a truth.
It's to expand the world I know and understand.
You're not writing to children.
Your concern is well-intended, I know.
But context is everything.
If an agent auto-passes on killing animals, they miss OLD YELLER.
If an agent auto-passes on rape, they miss Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK.
If an agent auto-passes on child abuse they miss Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Dorothy Allison, and a lot of other books that illuminate the world.
That said, if an agent really doesn't want to read anything about child abuse, it's up to them to let you know that. You can then deselect them for querying.
The only thing I need a trigger warning on is bad writing, and sadly, that's never ever going to happen.