Saturday 28 February 2015

The self-published blogger-challenge

Edit: to take part as an author go HERE

A week ago I blogged about the business of self-promotion.

I realise that this is a lot easier once you're 'off the ground' and 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?

So here's my idea. It relies on the labour of others and so it could fizzle and die right now. But let's see.

(I'm thinking here of fantasy books / authors / bloggers, though it could easily be SFF in general.)

I know that many bloggers are very fast readers. Some read over 200 books in a year.

My proposal is to get X of these bloggers to volunteer to become 'agents'. (X will be 10 or fewer).

Each blogger is assigned 25 self-published books, randomly selected from a list of volunteer authors.

These bloggers are NOT expected to read all of these books. Their task as 'literary agents' is to select the single book they want to put their reputation behind and "publish" into the next round of the exercise.

As agents the bloggers will look at the submissions before them. Many they may abandon on the first page as rubbish. Many others may be set aside after a chapter or two. A small subset, perhaps 1 or 3 or 5 will be read all the way through.

After 6 months the bloggers (who are free to review any of the books they were assigned) deliver their verdict. A single book which they review and put forward into round 2. It would also be nice to see a blog from them at some point about their experience as agents and what led them to abandon some books early and pursue others.

This will give us a list of X finalists, one from each blogger.

Over the next 6 months each blogger becomes a blogger again and will read the X books (actually X-1 since they selected one of them). They don't have to read all of each book but should try to give each a fair shake. They assign a score out of 10 to each book and review the one they liked best (not the one they "published"), By totalling the scores we get a single winner from the many entries. Each blogger reviews that winner, thereby giving it the reward of publicity.

I'm looking for blogs with a good history of regular reviews (to indicate reliability) and since I already have too many volunteers I will try to select those bloggers with high traffic/popularity.

Any blogger interested in taking part can comment below &/or mail me at

[edit - we now have 19 highly suitable volunteers for 10 places and more considering, so I'll definitely go ahead. You're welcome to add your name into the hat. I'll select the 10 using a combination of judgement and black magic, with the goal of getting the team most able to offer publicity (through the process) to the winning entries.] 

My first volunteer blogger is Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues - so if this goes ahead you'll be in great company!

(these next are provisional as the success depends in part on the bloggers chosen being reliable (and an established regular blog is the best indicator or that) and popular)

Other volunteers that I hope I can be on the final 10 include:
(note - I already have 10 so selection will have to take place but please put your name into the hat)

Richard Auffrey of The Passionate Foodie with 240 books read last year!

Tyson Mauermann of The Speculative Book Review.

The eponymous Sean Smith of Sean Smith

Charlie Hopkins of A Reading Machine.

Katherine of Ventureadlaxre

Mihir Wanchoo of The Fantasy Book Critic

Milo of The Fictional Hangout

Lynn Williams of Lynn's Books

Matt Gillard of 52 Book Reviews

Johann Pollard of Fantasy Opinion

Tim Ward of Adventures in SciFi Publishing

Leona Henry of Blog of Shadows

Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins

J.R Karlsson of Fiction Garden

Marc Aplin of Fantasy-Faction

Ria of Bibliotropic

Fantasy Book Review are in.

Steve &co at the Elitist Book Review

Kat &co at Fantasy Literature


  1. I'm down, sounds like a blast. This is a fantastic idea.

  2. Brilliant idea. I had a similar idea but didn't have the time and energy to make it real. I'd like to participate in this!

  3. This sounds like a great idea. I've been trying to read more books this year too. Count me in. Alice Leiper of Ally's desk at

  4. Sounds awesome. Count me in.

  5. I'm in.
    But my blog is brazilian. I need to find a good translate gadget. I'm searching right now.
    Brilliant idea.

  6. I'm definitely not the 200 books a year type anymore, but I'm game if you still need someone. Sounds like fun.

  7. Is it possible to submit our self published book for consideration? Or is this list randomly gleaned from Amazon?

    What? No, I'm not a crazily desperate author. Of course not. I'm super rich and ambivalent about this. How dare you insinuate that I desperately believe in my book, that I weep for it's future as it gets pulled along the undercurrents of the great River Obscurity. (*cough* *cough*)

  8. And how would a self pubbed author enter? Cuz that sounds awesome

  9. I'm in if there is still room. Sounds like a great idea and a lot of fun.

  10. I'd love to get involved with this, over at my book-brownie.blogspot blog. It's been dead for a while (not for lack of reading, just for lack of writing), but this would be a great thing to start it back up with.

  11. Sure, sounds like a lot of fun, I'll certainly be able to contribute. Expect the reviews to go up here:

  12. Would love to join in - what a great idea!
    Lynn :D

  13. This. Is. Amazing!! I'm taking far too many challenges this year, though =/ Then again, three of them are mine, so I'm sure I could forsake them to do this. :3 Brilliant idea.

  14. That is a fantastic idea, i wish it could happen also in my country, Italy.

  15. If it's only fantasy books you'll be looking at, I have one coming out May 1, and I'd be grateful for consideration. My debut novel last November is sci-fi and is getting great reviews, but as you said, indie authors, no matter how good, are mostly invisible. I love your idea and am curious to see how it will go.

  16. Count me in, Mark. Sounds like a great exercise.

  17. If you're still taking submissions for volunteers, I'd love to be a part of this. I don't typically read self-pubbed stuff, but I have come across some wonderful self-pubbed gems over the years, and I'd love to be able to help give some more worthy novels a bit of publicity they might not otherwise get.

  18. I don't review, but I think that this is a great idea. It is hard to get known when you are a fledgling writer and I can see this as a bit of hope.

    And for the reviewers that follow through with it, I'll love you forever. :D It can be a lot of work.

  19. Sure, we'll do this. Sounds like fun!
    Kat for

  20. You look to be drowning in volunteers, but by all means let me add to the flood. 8)

  21. I definitely do reviews! (I believe you've linked my blog before in your "List of Lists", since OF COURSE I happened to review the Broken Empire Trilogy!) I managed to read 100 books in 2014, and about 11 of those were "featured reviews" from indie authors! (And of those, only about 2 of them did NOT receive rave reviews...) I would love to get in touch with authors looking for reviews! I love to read, and I typically share my featured reviews on Facebook and Google, as well as giving additional reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. "The Upstream Writer" is totally on board!

  22. I'd enter my book here except it is neither speculative fiction, not fantasy. May I run this off my blog for self-published authors from India? I'd give you full credit for this idea and even link your blog to it.

  23. This sounds most intriguing, fun and challenging! If you are looking for more possible participants for this (or a future run) I would be very interested. I read over 200 books a year (last year 236, 2013-231 books and 2012=358. Fantasy is my strongest interest but it varies greatly. I have a very open mind and would welcome the challenge. I have been doing book reviews for 2 years now and have a lot of free time on my hands over this summer. Regardless this is something I will have to keep an eye on.

    Jamie @ Vailia’s Page Turner .
    darjlj75 at