The IndieBRAG Medallion is well known in indie author circles as a demanding test of the quality of self-published books. Knowing that they reject 90% of submissions gives an indication of how much a Medallion will be treasured by its winner.
Now IndieBRAG have introduced a new service called IndieBRAG Book Blitz, and multiple Medallion winner Anna Belfrage, a guinea pig for this service, is pleased to give us a sneak preview of what it is, how it works, and how indie authors might benefit from it.
Even if you don’t plan to use IndieBRAG at any point, this post also provides inspiration for a creative approach to book blog tours.
In September, IndieBRAG did me the honour of using me as a guinea pig for their new promotional efforts, a so called IndieBRAG Book Blitz.
Background about IndieBRAG
For those of you who don’t know what IndieBRAG is, this is an organisation run by the indefatigable Geri Clouston and her dedicated team which has as its purpose to promote high-quality Indie books. Since several years back, IndieBRAG awards books that meet their standards a BRAG Medallion – and the BRAG acronym stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group. Submissions stream in, Geri and her team do the initial scanning which approximately 40-50% of all books pass, and then it is up to the readers. All books go to a minimum of ten readers. All books have to be approved by all readers to get the medallion. End result: 10% or so of all submitted books end up with a medallion.
Other than the medallion, IndieBRAG is looking at other ways to promote quality indie – and this is where the Book Blitz saw the light of the day. Now, before we go any further, it is important to point out that this is a new concept for IndieBRAG, which means it is still far from the end product. (Geri and her co-workers are an innovative bunch.)
I suppose most authors have heard of virtual book tours, but just in case, this is when over a couple of weeks your book is showcased/reviewed on various on-line sites. One can either pay for the service, or, as some authors do, create their own little book tour. I generally pay, as
- the organising aspect is time-consuming
- I am not up-to-date on book bloggers throughout the digiverse (which is a word I’ve stolen with pride from fellow-author Alison Morton, an amalgamation of digital and universe)
Introducing the Book Blitz
The Book Blitz aimed to be somewhat different: among other things, a food blogger was roped in, and she and I wrote a post about seventeenth century cooking, combined with a number of recipes. The purpose was to reach people who would normally not hop around on book blogs, but who still are potential readers.
IndieBRAG also invested in unique banners, in a redesign of their website which gave the blitz its own little page (and a beautifully designed page at that, built round the cover art of the first book in The Graham Saga). Everything was tastefully and professionally done, and there was a consistency throughout the Blitz as to colours and images.
The Book Blitz also invested a lot of time and effort on promoting posts, the Blitz itself, both on Twitter and on FB. And I do think there was quite some success here, as halfway through the week I had a phone call from a senior recruiter I now and then interact with in my capacity of CFO. “What are you doing?” she asked. “I google you and I find you EVERYWHERE – as a writer, mind you!”
Other than this positive comment, I got similar reactions from other writers, who were running into my name on Twitter threads, FB threads, Google+ posts, etc, etc. Whether all this activity actually resulted in increased sales is hard to judge: I have as yet not received all the relevant statistics. I am, however, convinced it made my name somewhat more recognisable.
So, from my horizon, the Indiebrag Book Blitz was a great experience. Yes, it required effort on my part – mostly through writing various posts and such – but the entire IndieBRAG team came together to add their efforts to my own in a way that left me warm all the way down to my toes.
Question is, what did Indiebrag think of the experience? Instead of just guessing, I decided to ask Geri herself, and I hereby turn things over to her!
Geri Clouston’s Verdict
Thanks so much for being a part of this IndieBRAG experiment, Anna. As you said, our objective was to reach out to other sources of readers. We hope that having your book featured on sites that traditionally had little to do with books might bring new readers and fans on board. Most people visiting a food blogger aren’t expecting to find an interview with an author and, hopefully, the post will get their attention and interest. Our food blogger loved the experience so much she has now started a “Foodie Lit” feature on her blog! In addition, we likewise took topics touched on in the books but not the main focal point of the story and featured them in a variety of different blogs.
All of us working on the IndieBRAG Book Blitz found it fun and exciting. Finding new and unique ways to bring attention to our very worthy books is always a challenge. and we did not want to put our effort just into book reviews and author interviews which can easily be found elsewhere on the internet.
The initial cost covered time (lots of it!), banners and the webpages. It will be considerably less for future events. There is always a learning curve, and we want to offer our authors something interesting to look at and novel in concept.
The Next Step
As you know, we are working on revamping the system in which we get books to our readers and refreshing the website. We hope this will enable us to get more books through the system in a timely manner. We hope all will be up and running soon and that we will then be able to concentrate on some of our other projects and offer the IndieBRAG Book Blitz to more authors. Since each blitz will be personalized to each book, and the bloggers we reach out to will be asked to do something a bit different, we will be limiting the number we do in order to make each one special.
Each blitz will include:
- A special Facebook event
- An individual page on the indieBRAG website
- A minimum of five blogs. This will require some creativity since each genre poses its own challenges. Our goal ideally will be to have two per day for the five days of the blitz.
- Book giveaways
- Extensive promotion through Facebook (over 9,000 followers) and Twitter (over 6,ooo followers)
- Announcements on the IndieBRAG Newsletter (800 strong)
The cost has not yet been determined, but we are thinking of about $200 and the books for giveaway. I can assure you this is a real bargain considering the amount of time and effort put into this project.
We have been approached by a number of bloggers who might be interested in joining us. This is a great opportunity for them also since it in turn brings a new audience to their sites. Two bloggers we were unable to use due to the timing were “location” bloggers – one from Scotland who has a very large following talking about everything Scottish and a blogger who blogs about historical Maryland. These are both places of interest in the Graham Saga and neither blogger usually discuss books.
As you stated, this did require a bit of work at your end, and we will be expecting the authors to work with us to make the IndieBRAG Book blitz interesting and fun. I do believe we have been a bit spoiled by your wit, charm and generosity of time. As all new things, we hope our new idea will evolve into something very worthwhile for authors and your input will be greatly appreciated.
I hope that you enjoyed this as much as we did. Our response from the bloggers involved was very positive, and they have all volunteered for future events. Andrew and Kyle are already thinking about how to make it an even better event, and Stephanie is busy with the next project as we speak!
Anna Belfrage concludes: It seems both IndieBRAG and the author were more than happy with the event. I look forward to seeing future book blitzes carve a path through the digiverse!
OVER TO YOU Have you ever tried this kind of tactic and with what results? We’d love to hear about your experiences.Indie author @Anna_Belfrage tests @IndieBRAG's new #BookBlitz service Click To Tweet