“Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That’s because 90% of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon
When I first released Northwest of Eden, I was ashamed to admit I had self-published. The stink of the term is an instant conversation stopper, morphing it from “Wow, how cool!” to “Oh.”
Once Self-publishing became free, the cruddy 90% became visible to the public – the slush pile out in the open for all to see. Self-published writers or “Indies” are not poor writers by default – poor writers have always been out there – but the fact that anyone can publish is both the best thing and the worst thing that could have happened to the industry. That random book could be a gem overlooked by the Big Five, or a poorly assembled and unedited piece of…crud.
Enter the Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion award. It’s a “novel” idea – a group of book lovers passing on their seal of approval based on plot, characters, writing style, dialogue, editing, and cover design. The most important criterion is the willingness to recommend the book to a friend.
The B.R.A.G. website states that in the past several years, they have awarded around 500 medallions – but only about 10% of books submitted make the cut, and half fail the initial screening. A $20 fee covers administrative costs (although the group actually bought the book, so authors will make some of it back), but there are no guarantees, and the panel offers no feedback beyond a decision.
Since both my mother and my best friend thought Northwest of Eden was the best book ever, I submitted it for consideration. I’m being facetious – my manuscript went through round after round of copy and content editing, and my cover designer had created several pieces of ad art for his employers, including TV commercials. This thing is solidly put together, and I still wish it was better.
A few months went by, and I’d almost forgotten about it – but on Sunday, I received an e-mail informing me that Northwest of Eden had been selected, and would be featured on the B.R.A.G. website soon! I was, and still am, elated.
If you are looking for a true story of medical care delivered to Soldiers and Marines in Iraq, a testament to the choking dust and blistering heat, and the chronicle of ludicrous pranks that Army medics play on each other in order to remain human in the face of horrible adversity, then you should read Northwest of Eden. Not crud!
The Book Readers Appreciation Group agrees.