Should Readers BRAG?

BRAG is an acronym for “BOOK READERS APPRECIATION GROUP,” arguably the most persnickety of the Indie novel review organizations. Why should readers visit Because readers need a filter, a reliable method to find the great Indie novels among the half million expected this year.

Forbes online published an article by contributor David Vinjamuri entitled “Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing.” At first glance, one might think this article argued against the need for a reliable Indie novel review authority. Except, of course, for that pesky verb, “drowning,” which is perhaps the perfect description of the average reader’s experience as they search for that next great read. And limiting the search to the local bookstore’s selections from the traditional publishers is no sure bet either. Citing as an example the tortured journey of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize winning “A Confederacy of Dunces,” Mr. Vinjamuri suggests that ignoring Indie novels in favor of those provided by traditional publishers is akin to eliminating from consideration the next great American novel.

However, Mr. Vinjamuri also points out that while traditional publishers provide no guarantee of a great novel, they do ensure a minimum standard of excellence in the writing craft, something sorely needed in the Indie novel universe. An oft-cited statistic is that over fifty percent of all Indie novels are trash. Why? Because more than half of all Indie novelists have little or no professional training, do not engage the services of a cover artist, nor do they bother hiring an editor.

And thanks to the advent of the eBook, anyone can publish anything, and call it a novel. And they do. Often. The eBook publishers have only one real criterion for publication, namely, proper format. Grab your old college notes from Abnormal Psych, slap a photo of Sigmund on the front and title it “Chronicles of a Psychic Psychotic.” After proper formatting, your drool deluged doodles can be up for sale within hours. And poof. You’re a novelist.

Readers need filters to separate the great Indie novels from the not so great, distinguish the delightfully distinct from the drivel. The BRAG Medallion is one such filter. Their selection process is rigorous. First, the novel must present the same professional appearance as any novel in a bookstore. Essentially, it must look and read like a good novel. More than half the novels nominated for the BRAG Medallion are quickly eliminated due to typos, poor grammar, and bad art. After passing that initial examination, the real work begins. The novel is read cover-to-cover, checking for plot, theme, metaphor, character development, pacing, and good old entertainment value. If it survives all that, it still must pass a final test. Would the examiners recommend the novel to their best friends?

So next time you’re thinking of a reading a new novel, why not check out The BRAG Medallion guarantees a professional look and read. Ensures true excellence in the writing craft. From there, it’s all about personal taste. But somewhere, I’d bet that an Indie novelist has already written a Pulitzer quality novel. Perhaps it bears a BRAG Medallion on its cover.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I have submitted my novel for the BRAG Medallion. I thought it best to tout the organization’s virtues before I know the outcome. Wish me luck!

Stream of consciousness quote:

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”—R. Buckminster Fuller


Should I, or shouldn’t I?

Now that I’ve begun in earnest to complete the first draft of FACE OF OUR MOTHER, I’m debating the wisdom of updating my readers on the progress. Now, this may seem a small thing, yet not as minuscule as you might imagine.

Some readers crave advance knowledge. Others, like me, don’t want to know what’s ahead. Much of my day is scripted. The morning begins with a list, one third must do, one third should do, and one third could do. And after the thirds are reduced by one or two, or on a disturbingly efficient day, all three, I put away my script. Now, life can begin. Perhaps a nice meal. Some quiet talk. An evening stroll. If I’m lucky, I happen upon deer or elk or a majestic mother moose. And I watch in awe. I’m immersed in that moment of discovery. I’m not manufacturing my life. I’m living in my life. Perfection.

For me, reading a novel is that chance encounter, that loping deer. Sometimes I don’t know the genre. I might not read the title. Not even glance at the cover. Just open, find prologue or first chapter, and read. Of course, rather than mama moose, I often discover her two fuzzy little calves, all gangly and stumbling, yet so very beautiful. Their utter imperfection is the perfection. If I set expectations for a novel, I sometimes miss the obvious. I’m blind to the perfect imperfection of unscripted awe.

Yet, I fully appreciate that for many readers, the craving of advance knowledge is more about foreplay than foreshadow, more sensual than cerebral. They don’t desire revelations of what’s to come. They want the scripted tease, the tantalizing titillations of the liaisons ahead.

So, my current plan is to honor both types of readers, the sensual-scripted and the cerebral-unscripted, and hopefully all readers in between. Every time I blog about FACE OF OUR MOTHER, I’ll title the blog “BOOK REPORT?” And in every “REPORT” I’ll do my very best to smile with my eyes, speak with my hands, and then vanish, leaving behind only desire. I’ll show hints of plot without revelation, character growth without the impetus for that growth, tense situations absent their cause.

So, here’s your chance for input. Who’s for the occasional sneak peek? Who’s against? Please feel free to comment on my plan to honor all readers.

Stream of consciousness quote:

“I do not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections, or the beauty of innuendos, the blackbird whistling, or just after.”—Wallace Stevens