There can be only one #SPFBO 2016


Last year I took part in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (#SPFBO) organised by Mark Lawrence which proved to be very successful (I think) (more details here).

This year sees the return of the competition with 300 entries being received and distributed between the bloggers taking part (10 bloggers with 30 books each).  The details for this year, the entrants and other bloggers can be found here.  I’ve listed below my entries for the competition and will shortly be doing a separate post that will highlight the book covers for all 30 titles.  Following that – I will schedule an introductory post each month with the five books I’m hoping to take a look at for that month – this will be a description of the book.  At this stage I will not have read any of the books but simply wish to try and spotlight them.  At the end of the month I hope to do a short round up of the books for that month.  Last year I had a rather ad hoc approach to the books on my list and the order in which I read them.  This year I haven’t quite made up my mind whether to read the books in order or not but regardless my monthly introduction will highlight the books I’m planning to look at.  My aim is to check out 5 books a month (although this could go over or under depending on how successful each book is).

I can safely say that last year was a learning curve for me, I approached the SPFBO very much as a reviewer and not as a publisher whittling down a pile of submissions.  This year I aim to stick to a certain percentage of reading time for each book before I decide to move on – I want to be as fair as I possibly can to each of the books and give them a fair opportunity but at the same time I intend to trust my instincts and I really do intend to wear a ‘publisher hat’ in order to do so.   As it says in the title, and indeed this could be a slogan for the whole competition, ‘there can be only one’ and even though it’s possible I will enjoy a number of the submissions I can only put one book forward – it’s harsh but it’s also the objective.  I will also aim to keep notes on each of the books so that I can hopefully provide some form of constructive feedback (although I make no promises in that respect – I will try my best to do so but sometimes when I get caught up in reading my good intentions leave the building).  Any book that I read fully will receive a review (I fell down on this area last year and didn’t review a couple of my first round books that I completed – although I did review all 10 of the finalists, which is part of the undertaking the way I see it.  Even so, I do like to review the books I complete – this depends on time.  If I complete all five books in a given month then perhaps short reviews, for example.

Good luck to all of the entrants and thank you so much for taking part – it wouldn’t be such a great event without all of you and I’m really looking forward to reading the entries this year.  We had some really good books last year and I hope the same goes for this year too!  Finally, thanks to Mark Lawrence for organising all of this :D.

Let the festivities commence – may the best book win and in the words (almost) of Tolkien:

“One book to rule them all’

My entrants:

Daniel Potter – Off Leash
Jen Greyson – Lightning Rider
R.A. Meenan – Stolen Guardian
Bobbi Schemerhorn – Mechanical Dragons: Fire & Water
Greg Little – Unwilling Souls
F.T. McKinstry – Outpost
Moses Siregar III – The Ninth Wind
Michael DeAngelo – The Fall
Gwynn White – Rebel’s Honor – to be reviewed 
Kristy Tate – Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent
Wilson Geiger – Ash & Flame
Xina Marie Uhl & Janet Loftis – The Ruling Elite and Other Stories
John March – Vergence
Ros Jackson – Melody of Demons
Jaclyn Dolamore – The Vengeful Half
Douglas Milewski – All the Saints are Dead
Joseph J. Bailey – Soul Stealer
Terra Lorin – Avadonya: Rescuing Pavra
Aidan J. Reid – Pathfinders
Jennifer Ealey – Bronze Magic
Jon Kiln – Assassin’s Quest
Will Collins – A Darker Shade of Sorcery
Peter Ravlich – The Fallen Shepherd Saga
Kat Parrish – Bride of the Midnight King
A.G Stewart – Loose Changeling
Robin Lythgoe – As the Crow Flies
Erica Converso – Into the Sky
Ashley Capes – The Amber Isle
Christina Maharaj – The Tarot Cards
Trip Ellington – Evermage



24 Responses to “There can be only one #SPFBO 2016”

  1. sjhigbee

    Huge respect for taking part in such a demanding challenge! I think this is an awesome idea – but what a commitment of time and efffort. Congratulations for being willing to take part:)

    • @lynnsbooks

      it is a big commitment I have to admit but the fact is that I won’t read all of the books. I still read quite a few from my selection last year but some of them I didn’t complete. I read all the ten finalists but by that time you have six months left and ten (well nine actually because you’ve already read your finalist) books to read so it’s not too bad. The competition really picks up when all the scores start to come in.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        I’m sure. Still – a big responsibility… Do you have a score sheet with the same attributes for you to judge, along with the other readers?

      • @lynnsbooks

        Actually we don’t but that’s a really good idea – particularly for the final 10 – I will have to have a think about that. Thanks
        Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        I was part of a team preliminary judging a national short story competition where we had in the region of 180 stories to get down to a final shortlist of 10 and it was the only way we felt was fair.

      • @lynnsbooks

        Wow – and you said I had a huge commitment! That is awesome. I like the idea of a score sheet – if only for me – it’s a good way to keep track of what I’m thinking – but only for the ten finalists of course because the earlier round books may not be completed. Thanks for a great idea.
        Lynn 😀

  2. Maryam (@thecurioussffreader)

    Good luck, I hope that you’ll discover some great books! I can’t wait for your thoughts on them. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope we find something good – last years turned out pretty good.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Ria

    I’m looking forward to seeing your commentaries on various books in your batch. Definitely let us all know about good recommendations, even if they don’t end up being finalists (because $deity knows I need more books to read)!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Last year I definitely had a couple of books that were my choice up to a point – before I read my last book which ended up being my entry. The first book I read was pretty good but I didn’t submit it because it was what I would class as very mild fantasy – sort of an alternate Roman empire. No magic or dragons and beasts. A good story though and quite well done.
      Lynn 😀

      • Ria

        Yeah, I had one book in last year’s batch that was pretty decent, but it was more historical than fantasy. It did prompt me to muse about how sometimes the only difference between historical fiction and fantasy is that fantasy is the world in which it takes place.

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yeah, and the world in the book I read was a fantasy world – in that it wasn’t this world. Just that there was no other fantasy elements – I really enjoyed it though.

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I’m intrigued by your distinction between wearing the proverbial hat of a reader vs. that of a publisher: the latter should be the one who decides whether a book will be appreciated by the former, and I’m interested in knowing how the “process” works when you’re the one and the same 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s difficult! As I said, last year I very much behaved as a reviewer and felt compelled to read as much as I could! The other thing with this challenge is that there are certain books that I maybe don’t feel would be the one to move forward into the next round even though I may have enjoyed them. It’s challenging in itself really but I’ve already got experience of year so hopefully that will help.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    This challenge/event is a huge commitment, kudos to you for participating! It sounds like you learned a lot from your experiences last year. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a good idea to only read a certain percentage/page numbers of each book – hopefully it’ll keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Good luck with it, and I hope you find some new favourites! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope so too. I’m looking forward to this. It is a big undertaking but it’s a great opportunity – and not just for the authors, it’s good for the bloggers too because we’re getting to look at all these books and put them forward into a competition type setting. It’s a really good idea and generates such a lot of interest so I actually feel really quite overwhelmed just to be able to take part to be honest. I definitely have to keep to a certain number of chapters or percentage though. If I’m not loving a book then I’m not going to put it forward, and that’s the real difference, if I’m reviewing a book then I feel like I should complete it – even if it’s not for me, and then I review it and give my reasoning, but with this – well, if I’m not enjoying it I’m not going to put it forward as my no.1 choice which means I need to stop reading and move on. It does make sense when you think of it in those terms even though it still feels a bit mean not to read the full thing – doh! Cleary I will never work in a publishing house because I’m an absolute raging softie.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I think “thinking like a pseudo-agent and not like a blogger/reviewer” is going to be the biggest challenge for me, though I’ve taken your advice to heart and I think I’m starting off in much better shape than I would have been before we talked 🙂 Thanks so much!

    • @lynnsbooks

      That was the biggest challenge for me last year I think – trying to get out of the ‘reviewer’ mode is tough but we can do it!!

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