Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Sitting Round My Pool - IndieBRAG Founder, Geri Dunlap Clouston

Today I have the wonderful Geri Dunlap Clouston sitting round my pool. 'Geri thanks for digging yourself out of the deep snow we all hear you are suffering. Please settle down in the sun because I am dying to learn all about IndieBRAG and why you founded this amazing group.'
I know you as the President of IndieBRAG, what is IndieBRAG?

B.R.A.G. stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group, indie of course tells you we read self-published books.  Our reading team now is approaching 200 in 12 countries (we are always looking for more!)  A unanimous decision by a group reading a specific book earns a book a B.R.A.G.Medallion and we then try to shine a light on this worthy book.

You are the founder, what inspired you to create IndieBRAG?

While attending a self-publishing book event several years ago, I realized that once an author wrote and published a book, he or she had a very hard time rising above the avalanche of other SP books. After doing some research, I discovered that about 90-95% of SP books are considered by publishing industry ‘experts’ not to be worth a reader’s time and money. It was then that I decided to create indieBRAG in order to discover new and talented indie authors and help them promote their work. And with regard to the industry projections, we are finding this to be quite accurate – only about 10% of the books nominated to indieBRAG are awarded our B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Who are involved in the Group?

Our reading group is made up of ordinary people with a passion for reading―not editors, publishers, or literary experts. These are readers who love a good story and enjoy a well-written book, one that will not disappoint them.

Can you tell us about your BRAG Awards

Our process involves an initial screening of all nominated books to ensure that they meet certain minimum standards of quality and content. If a book passes this screen, it is then sent out to readers who have indicated an interest in that particular genre. The readers evaluate the book based on a number of relevant criteria and the final factor they use to judge it is whether they would recommend to their best friend.  If the group unanimously says “yes”, we honour it with our B.R.A.G.Medallion. Our readers do not have any contact with the author, or know who else is reading the book. We feel this is important so that they can make a decision without any influence from the author, other readers, or us at indieBRAG.  We do not make public the titles of books that are rejected or the names of their authors. We also keep the names of our readers confidential to protect them from the “trolls” that often attack reviewers.

How do you get your messages out?

Wow, that is a big job!  We attend as many SP book events as we can and we do a great deal of social media work.  When a book receives our Medallion, we consider that author part of our indieBRAG “family" and we hope they will help promote indieBRAG.  We believe that by telling the world about indieBRAG and the B.R.A.G.Medallion, all our honourees benefit.

Who can be considered for a BRAG Award?

We consider self-published books that are commercially available.  Our focus is on fiction but we will selectively consider non-fiction as well. We do not accept picture books (except children’s books), poetry or technical books. I cannot emphasize enough to potential nominees that the number one reason a book is eliminated is poor editing.  Authors must make sure their book is the very best it can be before nominating the book–they will rarely get a second chance for a good first impression!

Where do you see IndieBRAG in 18 months time?

We are very proud of the fact that the B.R.A.G. Medallion is rapidly becoming recognized in the world of self-publishing as a seal of excellence. Over the next 18 months we expect to continue to build on that track record. As a result, we are being asked to speak at book events and have several lined up for 2014. 
We are certain that anyone looking for a good book can feel confident that one with the B.R.A.G. Medallion will be well worth their time and money. And we sincerely believe that our Medallion books are every bit as good as those that were traditionally published. These books can all be found at:

Now for some quick fire questions so we can get to know you a little more….

Favourite colour?
Right now I would say green- but it seems I pick blue whenever decorating!

Sun bathing or snow boarding?
That’s an easy one for me- I am a winter person, which is a good thing since it has snowed every day since Christmas.  Although I don’t snowboard, I love downhill skiing.  In fact, I married my ski instructor 43 years ago!

Sports car of 4 wheel truck?
I don’t have a truck but I do have a 4 wheel drive SUV.  We live in the country and also have a Malamute – a very big dog, so a sports car just wouldn’t do (even though my husband loves Corvettes.)

If you won the lottery, what would be the 3rd thing you would buy?
The 3rd thing, hmmmmm...1st & 2nd are easy but 3rd?  Well, probably a share in my son’s independent film production company.  I am a movie fan and would love to be a bigger part of his world!

Do you prefer take away or homecooking?
I love to cook! However, most nights it would be take away-

What memory do you have from your twenties?
I have such great memories of those days.  I graduated from nursing school, which I loved.  After that, I went off to Europe with 2 friends and spent most of a year travelling and living in a small motor home.  It was a much different and safer time and it had a very profound effect on the person I am today.

Thanks Geri, for sharing this information I am sure authors and readers will appreciate the true value of the coveted BRAG Medallion Award.

Links for Geri and IndieBRAG


Madalyn Morgan said...

Ha-ha! Another great interview. Clever and fun lady. Good questions - enjoyed the answers xxx

Pauline Barclay said...

Hi Madalyn, thanks for meeting Geri, an amazing lady who is shining a bright light for all Indie Authors. x