SPFBO 2019 Winner

By Dann: Mark Lawrence has tweeted out the news that M.L. Wang‘s The Sword of Kaigen is the winner of the 5th Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off. The book was the top-rated finalist for 4 of the 10 reviewing blogs, with an average rating of 8.65 out of 10.

The contest began with 300 entries provided on a “first come/first entered” basis. To qualify, the books had to be a work of fantasy, self-published, available for purchase at the time of entry, and either a standalone or the first entry in a series.

Those entries were then broken into blocks of 30 books. Each reviewer read and reviewed their block of 30 books and nominated a single book into the final round. All 10 reviewers read and reviewed all 10 finalists with the average score being used to determine the ultimate winner.

Mark Lawrence started the SPFBO self-published fantasy book contest five years ago. Here is his 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 winner receives the prestigious Selfie Stick Award

The 2019 finalists with average scores and year of first publication are:

  1. The Sword of Kaigen (8.65) by M.L. Wang (2019)
  2. Fortune’s Fool (8.35) by Angela Boord (2019)
  3. Blood of Heirs (8.30) by Alicia Wanstall-Burke (2018)
  4. A Tale of Stars and Shadow (7.75) by Lisa Cassidy (2019)
  5. Kalanon’s Rising (7.70)by Darian Smith (2016)
  6. Never Die (7.70) by Rob J. Hayes (2019)
  7. Beggar’s Rebellion (7.25) by Levi Jacobs (2019)
  8. Blade’s Edge (6.90) by Virginia McClain (2015)
  9. A Sea of Broken Glass (5.85) by Sonja M. Black (2019)
  10. Spark City (4.80) by Robert J. Power (2018)

I just bought The Sword of Kaigen and expect it to be the first novel I read after my Hugo reading has been completed. I’ve lots of good things about Never Die from Rob J. Hayes as well.

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4 thoughts on “SPFBO 2019 Winner

  1. I’ve lots of good things about Never Die from Rob J. Hayes as well.

    I read one of his previous novels, Where Loyalties Lie, and it was decent enough quality-wise (I’ve definitely read worse traditionally published fantasy) but a bit too grimdark-y for me.

  2. Proofreading is such an important skill. I swear I typed “I’ve heard lots…..”. Just noticed that error.

    Based on a post to the SPFBO grout on Facebook, M.L. Wang’s first name is Miracle. Also, she doesn’t do Facebook. chuckle

    Mark Lawrence offered some perspective on this year’s scores by listing the average scores of the finalists from prior years.

    For the number minded.

    Average finalist scores by year:

    2019 7.35
    2018 6.85
    2017 6.50
    2016 6.70
    2015 7.00

    The reviewing blogs have had a few changes over the years, but is largely the same group over time.

    It sounds like after the 2019 competition, Thoughts Stained With Ink and The Qwillery are stepping down as SPFBO judges…..at least for now.

    As always, thanks to OGH for covering this contest.

    One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present. – Golda Meir

  3. Pingback: Sixth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Will Take Entries on May 23 | File 770

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