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

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