In February 2015, Mark Lawrence (author, The Broken Empire, The Red Queen’s War, The Book of the Ancestor) took to his blog to ponder the problem of self-promotion.
He observed that:
“…as a new author, particularly a self-published one, it is desperately hard to be heard. It’s a signal-to-noise problem. Who knows how many Name of the Winds or [fill in your favourite] are lost to us because they just couldn’t be seen? None? A hundred?”
Thus was born the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, a competition wherein a judging panel of bloggers each took on a ‘slush pile’ of submissions. Acting in the manner of a literary agent, each blogger would whittle down the list before eventually choosing only one to put through to the final round to be read, rated and reviewed by the others until a clear winner emerged. (Read more about the SPFBO on Mark Lawrence’s blog.)
300 authors, 10 blogs, 1 winner:
The SPFBO 2 has proved an even greater success than the first, and is now in its final stages. This year I’ve had the pleasure of participating as part of Fantasy-Faction‘s judging team, and been overwhelmed by the levels of professionalism and enthusiasm on display by the participating authors – not to mention the quality of the submissions themselves.
A total of 573 manuscripts have been submitted over two contests, and interest in the SPFBO has grown each year. Hopefully, this is a tradition that will continue indefinitely.
For more thoughts about the impact of the competition (and self-publishing as a whole) on the SFF genre, check out this article.
Below are links to the self-published novels I’ve read and enjoyed as a direct result of the SPFBO. I’d encourage you to check out the ones that appeal to you, and see for yourself the talent that’s currently out there swimming against the tides of obscurity.