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How To Reach Readers With The Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion

How to Reach Readers with the Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion

Thriller writer Alison Morton shares her positive experience of applying a quality control award for self-published books and explains how it helps her gain credibility and recognition of her alternate history novels.

Image of two of Alison Morton's books with the gold sticker on the cover indicating they've passed INDIE B.R.A.G.'s quality control

The gold seal of INDIE B.R.A.G. approval for Alison Morton's first two novels

Last month,  Sarah Dale announced to fellow ALLi members on our private members' Facebook forum: “Hope you don't mind me saying…but I've just heard I've won an Indie BRAG award for Bolder and Wiser! Not really sure what this meant, I applied on the spur of moment when Alison Morton won two, I think. Thanks Alison!” Fellow members poured on the congratulations; some went off to investigate further. In case you're still wondering what all that was about, I'll now explain. 

Why Such Award Schemes Are Needed

Self-publishing is expanding exponentially; it has long ceased to be a minority interest. But along with the glorious freedom of writing any genre, mixed genres or no genre and the ability to control every aspect of a book’s production comes responsibility to the readers.

Some authors write books purely for their own pleasure, and that’s great fun and personally very satisfying, but self- or independent publishing today is a serious option for commercial writers. However, not everybody is conscientious in producing a well-rounded, page-turning book with impeccable production values. How is a reader able to distinguish the dross from the diamonds in today’s avalanche of self-published work?

This is where the B.R.A.G. Medallion® comes in. When Inceptio, the first in my series of Roma Nova thrillers, was awarded a Medallion, I was delighted; my writing had passed one of the highest bars around. Rapidly becoming recognised in the world of self-publishing as an impeccable seal of excellence, its selection process is rigorous, rejecting 90% of applicants. If a book carries a B.R.A.G. Medallion® sticker, it will be a quality-assured read, whatever its genre. I’m very proud to explain what the sticker means at book events and people seem impressed. More importantly, I’m sure it helps clinch the decision to buy my book.

Who are Indie B.R.A.G.?

BRAG logoThe initials stand for Book Readers Appreciation Group, a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located worldwide. In IndieBRAG’s own words:

‘Our mission is to discover new and talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Our primary focus is fiction across a wide range of genres and we selectively consider non-fiction books as well.’

Since IndieBRAG was formed in 2012, they’ve received nearly 2,000 self-published books for consideration – a victim of their own success! Free for authors at first, they now charge a modest $20 fee to cover admin and website costs. And only the author or designated representative can submit a book.

What is Their Selection Process?

Cover of Bolder and Wiser by Sarah Dale showing the IndieBRAG medallino

Sarah Dale's Bolder and Wiser , another ALLi member's book recently honoured

The selection process is tough! After an initial screening to ensure that the author's work meets certain minimum standards of quality and content, it’s then read by members drawn from their global reader group. They judge the merits of the book based on a comprehensive list of criteria, including plot, writing style, characters, copy editing, dialogue and cove, and interior layout.

The final test of a book’s eligibility is whether or not readers would recommend it to their best friend. On average, 50% of the books submitted to IndieBRAG fail to pass the initial screen and another 40% are subsequently rejected by the readers. Thus, only 10% of the books they consider are awarded the coveted B.R.A.G. Medallion.

All Medallion books are presented on the IndieBRAG website along with author interviews. President Geri Clouston, whom I interviewed on my blog here, and team attend the Self-Publishing Book Expo in the US, publish surveys, and run an excellent blog crammed with advice and insight including this gem about mutual support for authors.

In February, I heard that the second book in my Roma Nova series, Perfiditas, had also been selected. It took a long time to come down from that particular high. Now I’ve tempted fate and sent the third one off…

  • Would you consider submitting your book for this kind of award?
  • If you already have, was it a good or bad experience? Would you do it again?
  • Please feel free to share your thoughts via the Comments box. 

For more details about the Indie B.R.A.G. award scheme, visit its website: www.indiebrag.com.

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“How gaining an @IndieBRAG award helps me sell my self-published books by @Alison_Morton via @IndieAuthorALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/indie-brag/”



Author: Alison Morton

Author of INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO, AURELIA, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO Roma Nova alternate history thrillers - all B.R.A.G. Medallion® honorees. CARINA – a novella – out now.Find out more about Alison, Roma Nova and alternate history on her website, www.alison-morton.com.


This Post Has 31 Comments
  1. As a 2020 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree for my novel The Mithras Conspiracy, I was totally impressed with Indie B.R.A.G.’s professionalism and organization. With all the indie books poured out every year, B.R.A.G. performs a needed service in weeding out grain from the chaff.

  2. This may be the website that led me, originally, to the BRAG Medallion site, and I did end up submitting my book. Afterward, I marked down “4 months – end of March” in my notebook, and lo! and behold, received notification last week that my book is a BRAG Medallion Honoree!

    My book is on consignment in several popular bookstores, some of whose managers know and others of whom do not know what the BRAG is. For those who do, I was immediately invited to do a “talking card” for the book. That right there gives the book more attention. The other stores were quick to understand the value of the Medallion, especially when I sent them the link to the website, were very congratulatory, and similarly told me to do anything I need to do to bring attention to it!

    We have to thank the BRAG Medallion organization and Geri for providing a process that tells readers and retailers alike that they can be confident in the quality of this book.

  3. Based on the information here I submitted my book late last fall. They responded that it would take several months. It was worth it in that yesterday I got notice that my book had been awarded the BRAGG medallion and would be on their website on the 16th The book has sold well, reaching #1 in sales in genre at Amazon briefly, however it’s praise from those with a recognized dedication to finding quality writing that has allowed it to receive wider attention, I believe.

    Thanks for the information.

  4. Thank you for the great article Alison. I submitted my debut novel Aegis Rising a few months ago with the understanding that it was going to be tough to get selected. I just received an email today from the President of B.R.A.G. Medallion saying that they have completed the reviewing process for Aegis Rising and that the book has been selected to receive a B.R.A.G. Medallion. Needless to say, I am super elated!

    Though I knew, (when I first submitted the book) that it will indeed be a special honor if the book gets selected, I didn’t quite hit home as to how much so, until I read through your article.

    Thank you for sharing your insight and experience.

    Shirin S.

  5. Thank you Alison for telling me about IndieBRAG. I hadn’t heard of them. I submitted To Venice With Love and was thrilled to be awarded a BRAG Medallion.

  6. BRAG is a great idea. Problem is, 99.9% of ebook readers won’t have heard of it. And am I also the only one who thinks the term ‘BRAG’ is counter-productive? If I won a BRAG medallion, I wouldn’t want to brag about it… Why couldn’t it have used a term with perceived value, like the BlueRibbon Award?

  7. Thanks for an interesting and informative post. My book is also now submitted.

    All these schemes work towards validating the acceptance of Indie authors, which is something that is badly needed.

    I was at a writing conference in Harrogate over the weekend and on the (only) self-published panel there was again mention of the “tsunami of cr*p”. Awards such as this enable the professional Indie to rise above the millions of other books simply being churned out without thought.

    Incidentally, one member of the panel was a guy called Mark Edwards who’s first book sold 250,000 copies and went to No. 1 on Kindle in the UK. As did his second and third. He then got a 4 book deal with (I think) Harper Collins, and said it almost killed his career. He has now returned to self-publishing and, guess what? His next Indie novel went to No. 1 on Kindle.

    When he casually mentioned these things the panel chair (Martin Waites, a traditionally published author) almost fell out of his chair. He was green with envy 🙂

    1. Gosh, that’s an amazing story, David – I’ll have to get in touch with Mark Edwards to get the low-down from him! Thank you for your comment, and here’s hoping that the Harrogate conference organisers learn from that example! Thanks very much for sharing this.

  8. Many self-published authors submit their books to any site that accepts self-published books,usually for an exorbitant entrance fee. I am proud to say that I have submitted all three of my children’s nonfiction history/travel book series for B.R.A.G. Medallions and all three have been accepted. What is most gratifying to me are the comments from the children who read them.

    Thank you Geri and to all the dedicated staff and readers at indieBRAG who are working so hard to bring quality self-published books to the public’s attention.

  9. Thanks you so much Alison for your great support!
    Readers are the ultimate judge of a book. When they like a book, they tell their friends and thus begins the much wanted (and needed!) word-of-mouth that propels a book to success. If the team of readers that select a specific book, all agree it is one they would gladly recommend to their friends, then we make that known to all readers looking for a good book by honoring it with our B.R.A.G.Medallion. What better way to help readers pick books than to let them know that other readers feel a particular book is worth their time and money? Once a book is honored, we do all we can to let the reading public know it is out there and encourage our authors to let us know what we can do to help them spread the word.

    We are very proud to have you and your books amongst our honorees!

    1. *blushes* Thank you, Geri!

      Yes, visibility and discoverability are the supreme goals of most authors and having the BRAG Medallion is a great boost. It will be interesting to look back in two or three years’ time to see how our comments measure up then.

  10. I’ve also just submitted my novel, The Englishman. Wish me luck!

    PS. The Englishman as well as my second novel, Coffee and Vodka, have both been approved as a Awesome Indies. AIA is also an indie award, but based on professional readers approval, writer credentials etc. Link here

    1. Fingers crossed, Helena!

      Yes, Awesome Indies is another scheme. You get detailed feedback which is terrific, but again it’s only one reviewer, however professional.

  11. My book was recently accepted and given the Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion. It was fairly easy to submit to and exciting when it was accepted. I did notice a change in sales, but then my book is permanently free, so if it cost money perhaps the changes wouldn’t be so high? The sales have gone down a little now, but they’re still better than before the medallion. I’m very thankful for the chance to have earned one, particularly after reading this article.

  12. I don’t think it is fair to reject a book on the basis of whether or not one would recommend it to a friend. Reading is a very personal and subjective thing. It should be strictly on the merits of the book whether the particular reader liked it or not.

  13. I am curious. Did you have your book on the market before the award? Can you give us an idea of the change in sales? Do you think the change is coming from BRAG members or the general readership?

    1. Yes, William, my books were on the market for a few months. It takes a little while for the evaluation to come in as your book is read by all the group of readers. I didn’t notice a sudden peak in sales, but I think it adds to credibility. I’m sure it helped with my BookBub submission as it’s a US-based quality scheme.

      Nice to be able to mention it on your Amazon and Goodreads author pages as well. 😉

    1. No – readers receive eBooks to read. There can be layout issues with eBooks, too – believe it or not. I’ve read some that were formatted so poorly that it took me out of the story. I’ve even come across one that had looked the font in, leaving me stuck in some horrible sans serif font.

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