Hugh Howey Launches Self-Published Science Fiction Competition

Hugh Howey of Wool fame has decided to form the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC).  The contest is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which just named its sixth winner, and has his blessing.

Howey says the SPSFC will run the same way:

Ten book bloggers, up to 300 science fiction novels, a year of reading and reviewing. We will end up with ten finalists and one winner. Next year, we will do it all over again.

The winner gets a badge and a blaster set to “stunning.” Most importantly, they get heaps of recognition and bragging rights. All the finalists and many of the entries will naturally get more eyeballs on their books, which is what authors and eye-eating aliens crave the most.

Right now Howey is taking applications from the bloggers interested in becoming one of the contest’s ten reviewers. To put in your name, click here and fill out the form.

On June 30, the competition will open to submissions from authors who want their books considered. The requirements are:

1) Your book must be a standalone or the first in a series.
2) One book per author. So send your best!
3) It must be a novel, not an anthology.
4) The book must be self-published and available for purchase now.
5) Works must be at least 50,000 words.

[Thanks to Dann for the story.]

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14 thoughts on “Hugh Howey Launches Self-Published Science Fiction Competition

  1. This is fantastic! I have several friends who have placed in the SPFBO over the past six years, and several others who self-publish SF, so I have high hopes for the new contest.

  2. I wonder, now, are the badge and blaster purely virtual, or will they have a physical embodiment. Not that I can produce an SF novel and self publish it before the submission deadline.

  3. @David Shallcross

    The SPFBO equivalent prizes are a virtual badge and a physical magic wand.

    I’m guessing that Hugh Howey has a plan.


  4. I have to admit, I don’t really see the point.
    I don’t think how a book is published is as important as the story the author tells in it, self published, traditionally published or hybrid it doesn’t really matter in the end, what matters is the story.
    And while it can be argued that self publish books off and lack The recognition of traditionally published books, this is a choice on the part of self publishers not to engage a marketing team as the traditionally published authors do.

  5. Excited to see this, I was a semi-finalist for SPFBO 4 and it was a great experience. I always hoped someone would do something similar for science-fiction. There are loads of excellent indie sci-fi books out there, and any extra exposure for them is welcome.

  6. Annie: I’d say the point might be fun, overall. Because you’re right, otherwise people could just hire marketing teams. While publicity is the draw, authors doubtless also like getting their books actually read by people.

    There’s a triangular set of motives for something like SPFBO and this new SPSFC. First, there has to be someone with his/her own sufficiently large platform that it will mean something when they use it to focus attention on other writers. Second, there need to be indie authors who want more publicity — which is probably the entire universe of indie authors, so that’s not problem. Third, there need to be working book reviewers who would like that bit of glory that comes from being associated with such a competition. Everybody wins, and for two legs of the triangle it capitalizes on what people would be doing anyway.

  7. @Annie

    Mike’s observations about this being a different path for promoting interesting works are astute. I agree with you that it shouldn’t matter if a book is self-published. The quality of the story should matter more than whether the author is under contract with a publishing house.

    Unfortunately, there are still some readers/reviewers that place a premium on a book being published by a traditional publisher. SPFBO and SPSFC are a form of marketing that will (hopefully) counter that perception.

    Me on Goodreads.

  8. I have to admit, I don’t really see the point.

    Judging by the SPFBO, the point is to generate enthusiasm, publicity and reviews for a lot of books, some of whose authors don’t have a choice to engage in marketing because that would take money they don’t have.

    I’m excited about Howey starting a SF analogue to the SPFBO. I’ve applied to be a reviewer.

  9. Yes, in theory it should not matter whether a book is Big 5 published, small press published or self-published. But in practice, self-published authors (and small presses) often find it difficult to compete with the marketing budgets of the likes of Tor or Orbit. Besides, a lot of marketing and promotion opportunities that are open to self-published authors focus mainly on low prices or free books, while many of the bigger review sites rarely review self-published books. There still is a gap.

    Projects like SPFBO and SPSFC help to bridge this gap, which is a good thing.

  10. Is the award meant to be open to works currently in print, so to speak, regardless of when published, or is there a ‘last year’ (or whatever) limit? I could doubtless search out the answer, but enough people would find it interesting — and someone here might already have the answer — simply to ask.

  11. I believe there is no limit on when the work was published, only that it still be available for purchase and meet the other few requirements of genre, length, and standalone or first in series.

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