My SPFBO Experience

So, first things first, what the hell is the SPFBO?

Answer: the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.

So, what exactly does that mean?

Simple answer: it’s a contest run every year by Mark Lawrence, fantasy author extraordinaire, where 300 writers submit their standalone fantasy novel to one of ten judges who happen to be a blogger in the fantasy book blogging community.

It’s a pretty big deal to self-published writers.

What are the stakes?

Well, you don’t win money.

And you don’t win fame as there’s a writer’s union enforced limit of four to five famous living authors at any given time on the planet: currently J.K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, and, of course, Neil Gaiman(and Salmond Rushdie when people are actively trying to kill him).

What you do win, and it can be argued that everyone wins, is some publicity. It would also be accurate to state that the person who wins the entire thing, which lasts about a year, wins substantially more of this most precious of writerly commodities.

I’ll cut to the chase: I didn’t win. My entry ‘Lords of Asylum’ came in second in my division of thirty books to the winner, ‘The Gods of Men’ by the excellent Barbara Kloss.

The SPFBO has been something of an odyssey for me. I missed entering ‘Lords of Asylum’ into the 2016 SPFBO by about a week because I wasn’t yet aware of its existence. And I missed the 2017 iteration because of a giant rodent. A mouse, specifically.

More specifically, I had been assiduously following the contest, checking daily for the entry period to start, which lasts about an hour and a half, when I went to Disney World with the wife and kids. And I decided I would not be bringing my computer and doing any writing on vacation so as to not ignore my children(Note: a trip to Disney World is not, I repeat, not a vacation if you are a parent; it is quite, I repeat quite, the opposite).

When I returned home, I found that the entry period had begun and filled up days before I’d even returned. My bad.

Bottom line: Despite my disappointment at not moving on to the final round, it was a great experience from start to finish(my finish, as it’s still in progress).

First off, I was lucky to be in the Weatherwax Report’s group. The group worked tirelessly and in concert(And this was despite the head honcho having major surgery amid the process) from day one. Multiple reviews came out every week, everything was scheduled, and there always seemed to be something going on. I really felt engaged during the entire process(It began on August 1st and the first phase ends on December 31st). So, to the Weatherwax Report Group, I say thank you once more for the hard work, dedication and the great experience.

Next, I’ve made some contacts and cyber-friends, which along with the added visibility is the point of the whole thing.

And now cold-blooded mercenary time: I’ve had my career-best sales month after month from August to right now. So that’s good. I’m not talking new car money, but I can now afford new car-scented air fresheners and maybe some candy. And candy is good.

And being engaged in the process(I’ve shared and tweeted and read nearly every post on the SPFBO Facebook group) I’ve got a huge list of authors in my TBR queue, which is always a good thing.

So, would I recommend entering the contest?

The answer is obviously, yes.

My advice? Start following it now. Find some new authors. Some new books. Get a feel for the process. Check out Mark Lawrence’s blog at:


This is where all the announcements are. You have a month before the first phase ends and the second and final phase begins. Then, it’s another six months or so before the next SPFBO starts, assuming they do hold it again, which if they don’t you have my apologies for getting your hopes up.

So get your book in order. Make it awesome, and good luck.

Kevin Wright

-Author central page

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