Thursday, 14 June 2018

The Official Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off page #SPFBO

I'm bringing together the somewhat scattered SPFBO information onto this page.

When a call for contestants is opened I will link it here. Currently the doors are closed. SPFBO 4 filled in just under 48 hours!

The 5th SPFBO is closed to entries.

Mission statement: 
The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.

It is not:
i) Perfect. Great books will slip through this net just like they do every other net.
ii) Aimed at getting traditional publications deals. Some authors opt for them but it would be an insult to suggest that the holy grail for self published authors is a deal with a big publisher.
iii) Charged for. This is totally free. The enormous effort given by the reviewers/blogs is a gift. Don't abuse it. #NoDrama

The rules are:

i) No book that was entered in a previous SPFBO can be reentered.
ii) The book must be #1 in a series or a stand-alone.
iii) The book must actually be self-published by the start date, not something you're considering self-publishing in future.
iv) It must be a fantasy book. (If you say it's fantasy then it is. But if it isn't really it won't get far.)
v) One book per author.
vi) No anthologies.
vii) No short stories - books must be 40,000 words or longer.
viii) Your manuscript must accompany the email you send to enter the contest. You will not be allowed to update or change it.
ix) Don't contact the blog to which you've been assigned. You can contact me about important issues.

Not a rule, an observation: It doesn't matter how long your book has been published, Ten years? Fine.

The winner will receive the prestigious Selfie Stick Award but the true prize is the publicity of being the winner, plus the bonus of being reviewed on the blogs of 10 highly respected fantasy bloggers.

Frankly you can't buy better publicity than that. The winning book will have been selected as the best from a field of 250+ self-published works.

My blog pages associated with last year's SPFBO got 70,000 views during the contest and well over a hundred reviews were posted on the ten blogs!

We have an SPFBO (Spifbo) group on Facebook. And on Twitter the #SPFBO hashtag is a good way to keep updated.

The contest progresses as follows:

In phase 1 which takes 5 months:

1. Put on their agent's hat and go through the slush pile of novels allocated to them (between 25 and 30 books) to find the one title they will put through to the final.

This does not mean they have to read all the books. My own agent would go through that number in a day. But hopefully they will read part of all of them and all of some.

2. Review that chosen title.

3. Select their 3 favourite covers for the cover art contest in which they will later vote.

It is hoped that they will also review some of their favorite books from the selection they were given.

In phase 2 which takes 5 months:

1. Read and score all 9 finalists from the other blogs.

2. Review their favorite.

3. Review the winner.

If their own finalist turns out to remain their favourite and to win, then they have no reviews to write in phase 2!

It is hoped they will feel moved to review some of the other finalists too,

Phase 1 of SPFBO 4 can be followed here.

The champions so far:


2017                                                2016                                          2015
Where Loyalties Lie (Best Laid Plans Book 1) by [Hayes, Rob J.]The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands) by [French, Jonathan]The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble's Braids (Amra Thetys Series Book 1) by [McClung, Michael]

The finalists by year:

Finalists from three years of SPFBO
(red = 2015, black = 2016, yellow = 2017, green = 2018):

Blood Rush 7.75
Paternus 7.30
Fionn 7.20
Larcout 6.70
Jake Bloodfist 6.55
The Way Into Chaos 6.45
Priest 6.30

1167 books considered so far!

& for the interested:
the takeaway here is that given the distribution of entries, the distribution of finalists is within the expected range that an unbiased selection of finalists would produce.


  1. I'm really looking forward to Amanda Justice's A WIZARD'S FORGE, Rosalyn Kelly's Melokai, and Megan Mackie's The Finder at the Lucky Devil. All three of them have expressed a desire to join and all three of them are awesome.

  2. What if your book was published by what claimed to be a 'mid-sized' publishing company with an art department and a marketing/promotions department, but turned out to be 2 people working out of their home who have no intention of publicizing beyond one mention on their Instagram/Facebook/Twitter accounts? I may as well have self-published.

    1. Reclaim your rights, self publish it, and you can enter next year.

  3. So how do you enter this competition?

    1. In an effort to improve this page, which part of it was unclear?

    2. I'm afraid I didn't even see a post saying registrations for the contest were going live. The top post on your group is says it was posted last year, and I've not seen anything else come up. I was hoping to enter this time and was keeping an eye out for an announcement which unfortunately didn't seem to arrive.

    3. I'm having trouble too. I've been looking for a post or form that says where to sign up my book for the SPFBO contest, but can't find anything. How do we enter our books into the next contest?

  4. Is this open to all Fantasy genres (urban, epic)?