What is SPFBO?
The Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off is hosted by none other than Mark Lawrence, author of The Broken Empire, The Red Queen’s War, The Book of Ancestor and Impossible Times trilogies. 300 books compete, judged by 10 blogs and at the end of 10 long, bloody months 1 winner will emerge. You can find every detail on Mark’s SPFBO page along with the process of all 10 blogs in Phase 1.
What will be our process?
We got our 30 books assigned. Yay! Now comes the hard work. I invited 3 awesome bloggers to join me on this journey. Partly because I knew I needed a few people to get the workload off of my shoulders and partly because I know that I have my own preferences and genres I don’t like to read. I wanted to have a team to give equal chance to every book in our lot regardless of genre. We each have our preferences, but I think at the end of the day, we’ll balance each other out and will pick one book that ticks the right boxes for all of us. I don’t expect that it’ll be easy, but hey, that’s half of the fun!
All four of us will take a look at all 30 books. We’ll try to read at least 25% of each book. We will pick 4 maybe 5 semi-finalists depending on how much we like certain books. I hope that we’ll have them by the end of October. Then we’ll look at our semi-finalists once again and decide on a finalist by the end of November. We’ll try to write as many reviews as we can, but most of you probably only will receive mini reviews. Our favorites will get full reviews and our finalist as well. Other than that, it’s up to each of us how we handle things. You can keep track of our process on my SPFBO 5 Phase 1 page, but we’ll be sharing our progress on social media as well.
Now, we are a friendly bunch and don’t mind interacting with people on Twitter or in the SPFBO Facebook group, and we are more than happy to help you if you have any questions. But please don’t ask us when your book will be reviewed, or expect us to explain our opinion. We won’t get into any kind of arguments, and if you step over personal bundaries, it will likely affect your book negatively in our eyes. The aim of this competition is to forge friendships and connections not to make a fool out of yourself before the whole community. We aren’t what you’d call harsh reviewers, but we’ll be a touch more critical since this is, after all, a competition.
That said, let me introduce to you Team RockStarlit BookAsylum!
Jen Stebing aka bunnyreads
I live in the northern part of BC, where it’s winter for more of the year than I’d like. The plus side of not liking to be out in the cold, means I get to cuddle up under a blanket next to a fireplace and read. My husband and I have a few horses, free run some chickens, and of course there are bunnies… a lot of bunnies. The horses are his and the bunnies are mine, but he’s a good man and tries to love them too-even when they eat all his newly transplanted saplings.
When I’m not reading, or doing farm and animal chores, I love listening to music, painting, tv and movies, and walking.
Hello! Some of you may know me already. I’ve been reading and reviewing self-pub for years but started contributing at RockStarlit BookAsylum this last December.
I’ve been following SPFBO from its early days, as it has grown in to this wonderful supportive community of authors and reviewers, as a fan and self-pub reader, I am thrilled to be a part of it this time around.
On reviewing and choosing books to put forth:
I generally know what I like and pick accordingly, even when I accept requests. For that reason, this may be some of those rare times you will be seeing me rate below three stars (five for SPFBO purposes).
I will review everything I read, including DNF’s, which will probably only be a quick note about why I dropped them.
Things I will look for:
Enjoyment first. Life too short to hate the book. Conversations – how stilted are they? Repetition and overlapping POVs – how many times a theme, word or thought shows up that I don’t need to know again (I have a real pet peeve for that sort of thing). Clearness – do I know what you’re talking about enough to wait it out, especially in a sink or swim style world? Grammar, tenses, and head-hopping. Are any of these so bad they take away from my enjoyment?
I will make up a scale grade of 1-10 and add it to my Goodreads for the purpose of SPFBO. Currently I have been using the Goodreads scale, with three stars meaning – I liked it. I will probably adjust that to work for the ten stars system (or just steal superstardrifter’s scale).
Good luck to the participants! I am looking forward to all the books!
Follow Jen on social media:
Belle McQuattie has been devouring fantasy for almost as long as she’s been reading. When not reading, Belle can be found on the Continuum committee room floor or judging the Aurealis Awards. You can also find her recently revived blog at http://inkspotsonmypage.com or on twitter @theresaninkspot
I’ve been following SPFBO for the last couple of years, so I’m very excited to be judging this year! I’m a pretty relaxed reader and don’t focus on sub genres, I’m much more interested in characters and plot than many technical aspects of a book. That said, the most common reasons I DNF/dislike a book are lack of interesting plot or characters, unnecessary descriptions of any type of violence and inconsistent worldbuilding.
My goal is to write at least a mini review for every book, with full reviews for those that I really enjoy, as well as all of our semi finalists. And of course, full reviews for all finalists when they come around.
I’m more than happy to hear from authors in our group (or any of the others!), but let’s skip the “when will you read my book??” stuff right now – I read from a list, starting at the top and working my way down. I will get to your book when it gets to the top of the list and no, I cannot tell you when that will be.
Follow Belle on social media:
Nick T. Borrelli
My love affair with Fantasy and Science-Fiction books began when I was just 13 years old. It was then that I checked a book out of the local public library called The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov. At the time I had no idea that it was the last book in a series, all I knew was that it completely changed my life and ignited a passion for reading that I couldn’t ever fully satiate. Thirty-odd years later I still have that passion, in fact, it has gotten even stronger. I’ve been a book review contributor for various SFF book review sites over the past two decades but I started my own blog “Out of This World SFF Reviews” exactly a year ago. I currently make my home along the southern coast of New Jersey with my wonderfully amazing wife and our two daughters.
I can’t even put into words what an honor it is to be participating in this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off as part of Team Rockstarlit BookAsylum. A special thank you to Timy for allowing me to join her very talented group of judges. As someone who reads a lot of self-published Fantasy, this is a contest that I’ve been wanting to be a part of for a while now. I’m of the strong belief that the superb quality of self-published books these days is simply unquestionable. We’ve seen that evidenced by the fantastic authors who have won this competition in the past, like: Michael McClung, Jonathan French, Rob J. Hayes, and most-recently J. Zachary Pike.
But #SPFBO is not only about the winners. There are so many amazing books entered into this contest that don’t even make it to the finals. I believe that this competition also sheds a deserving bright light on them as well. I’ve been exposed to so many books through SPFBO that I might not have ever known about otherwise. So the value of being a part of something this incredibly special for the self-published writing community is immeasurable in my opinion.
I can’t wait to get that batch of 30 books in my possession and begin to go through them one by one. I think I’m just as excited as the many authors who will be competing for the #SPFBO5 crown. Personally I will be looking for books that have amazing world-building, a rich history behind that world, deep characterization, and compelling stories that grab me from the opening chapter. These will be the ones that will separate themselves from the others for me.
So let’s get this thing started! I know that there will be a lot of hard work and reading ahead, but also a great deal of fun too. I’m ready!!
Tiny evil creature, sarcastic smartass, music addict rocker and panda lover. Timy is one of the weird people called Hungarians, born and raised in Budapest. She loves everything mythological – and has a degree to prove it – especially if it’s on the darker side of the spectrum. When she has free time besides her day job and freelancing, Timy entertains herself with crafting, watching movies, travelling and going to concerts.
I guess it’s time to introduce myself then. I am the owner of RockStarlit BookAsylum and the one responsible gathering together these awesome bloggers I can also call friends. I’ve been following SPFBO since 2017, when I started to get to know the Fantasy community. When I started RockStarlit BookAsylum in early 2018 I had dreamed about one day being one of the chosen blogs. I didn’t expect to be asked to take part in Fantasy Book Review judging team, let alone be here after a bit more than a year of blogging/reviewing. I can’t even express how happy and proud I am.
I’m pretty stoked to get to our books, and I aim for writing at least a mini review for every book, probably in fives. Due to time issues I probably only will read my absolute favorites and the semi-finalists my team mates will pick.
There are some subgenres I’m not as familiar with or don’t like to read as much, but one thing I love about SPFBO is that it makes me challenge myself. I’ll have an open mind toward every book regardless of subgenre and be as objective as I can be. For me characterisation is a key issue – if I can’t connect with any of the characters then I’ll likely DNF it. I will look for books with great characters, interesting worldbuilding, and an enjoyable writing style.
I’m pretty confident that we’ll have at least one hidden gem in our group, so let’s bring it on!
You can find me on social media:
Our picks for the Cover Contest
At last but not least, feast your eyes on the 3 covers we picked to participate in the Cover Contest! The books are linked to their GoodReads pages!