The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off!

Posted: March 18, 2015 in News Tags: The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off

So. Mark Lawrence. You know the name. He’s a great author, and an even better person. We’re rather fond of him. Mark did a thing. Maybe you noticed it. A couple of weeks ago, over on his blog, Mark said the following:

“I realise that [self-promotion] is a lot easier once you’re ‘off the ground’ and that as a new author, particularly a self-published one, it is desperately hard to be heard. It’s a signal-to-noise problem. Who knows how many Name of the Winds or [fill in your favourite] are lost to us because they just couldn’t be seen? None? A hundred?”

This hit home to us at EBR. You can read the whole post, and the follow-ups, over at Marks blog (here’s your link). Here’s the short of of it:

Between 260 and 270 self-pubbed authors submitted their work to Mark, and he then passed those books evenly (and randomly) out to ten (10) review sites. We go through them and pick the best of the 27-ish sent to us while the other blogs do the same with their allotment. Then we all read the final 10 stories and say which is the best.

That’s a lot of books. A lot of self-pubbed books. Yeah.

I love Mark’s idea here. Just because you are self-pubbed, doesn’t mean your book is crap. It may lack some editorial polish. Maybe not. It may be terrible, or not. But really, I can say the same of novels pubbed by the large presses. EBR doesn’t typically accept self-pubbed work for review, but this was a a great opportunity to do so. So let me give some insight into the process we will follow. This is as much for the authors whose books we have, and for the curious.

We are going to look at these submissions like we are agents. We’ll start by reading the first five chapters, or first 50 pages – whichever is shorter. If the novel hasn’t grabbed us, we move on. I know that sounds subjective, and perhaps a tad harsh, but that’s the reality. This contest Mark put together isn’t about making happy endings for everyone involved. It’s about finding, hopefully, some really good needles in the proverbial haystack.

From our 27 submissions, I hope we end up liking five. To me that would be killer. If we end up really liking more, awesome. If we end up liking less… well, that’s how the business is. None of this is personal, and we have no intention of being jerks or rude. Or rude jerks.

As we go through the process, we’ll post some thoughts on what we are reading. The trends we see. Anything surprising. If we get an early favorite. The books we are choosing to move on from.

Here’s our list of authors and their submissions:

1. Stephanie Caine – Storm Shadow
2. D. Moonfire – Sand and Blood
3. Joe Donahue – The Final Requiem
4. Christopher Kellen – The Elements of Sorcery
5. Heidi Collotzi – The Secret of Avonoa
6. Terry Green – Shaman, Healer, Heretic
7. Tony Healey – The Bloody North
8. Tom Wright – Apex Rising
9. Callista Hunter – Goddess
10. Tristan Gregory – The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth
11. JP Lantern – Up the Tower
12. Jeff Morin – Fire Hurler
13. Sean Froyd – Inanis the Hooded
14. Melisa McPhail – Cephrael’s Hand
15. Michael Watson – Valkwitch
16. Robert Dahlen – Of Introductions and Abductions
17. Matt Forbeck – Hard Times in Dragon City
18. Michael Karner – Red Axe, Black Sun
19. Timothy Bond – The Watcher’s Keep
20. Martin Owton – The Exile of Darien
21. Christopher Hayhurst – Metal, Salt, and Sand
22. Michael McClung – The thief who pulled on trouble’s braids
23. Christian Freed – Hammers in the Wind
24. Jacob Cooper – Circle of Reign
25. Jack Newhouse – Journey
26. Brian Kramer – Godhede
27. Salvador Mercer – The Black Dragon

We aren’t the only people involved here. There is a total of ten fantastic review sites participating in this contest/experiment. Here they are:

Bookworm Blues

Elitist Book Reviews


Fantasy Book Critic

Lynn’s Books

The Fictional Hangout

Beauty in Ruins


The Speculative Book Review

Fantasy Book Review

That’s good company. Very, very good company. Those are some of the best sites out there, ladies and gentlemen. We want to wish those sites a whole bunch of good reading. I sincerely hope we all come out of this with far more awesome novels than we anticipate. Because nothing pleases a reviewer more than a good novel.

Lastly, we want to thank Mark Lawrence for allowing us to be part of this. There was no shortage of review sites clamoring to be involved, and we were fortunate enough to be picked. Thank you!

To the authors: good luck.

Stay tuned!


  • joebrewing says:

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my novel, and best of luck to the other authors. No matter what the outcome is, this should be a fun experience. Thanks again.

  • Great approach – I’m leaning towards the same, committing myself to the first 50 pages to see whether the writing grabs me. When you consider that’s a minimum of 1300 pages (I have 26 titles), that suddenly doesn’t seem so harsh.

    I’ve already made note of the titles, covers, and blurbs that really caught my attention (since first impressions are half of marketing), but all that really sways is which I’m curious to tackle first.

  • Ria says:

    I sadly had to give up on the first novel I tried for the challenge. The second, however, was so much more engagin, I read the whole thing (short as it was), and I was decently impressed. Just goes to show that if you can’t judge a book by its cover, you really can’t judge it by its publisher.

  • lynnsbooks says:

    I was thinking about how many pages I would read – 50 seems fairly much like a reasonable amount. I confess I usually give a book 100 pages – oh well, I’m not going to over think it and just see how I get on with each one. Hopefully there’ll be lots of needles to find.
    Here’s not to being ‘rude jerks’ – LOL
    Lynn 😀

    • Ria says:

      You folks are a lot more lenient than I am with this. I’m giving the books a chapter. Maybe 2 if the chapters are pretty short. I’m not likely to drop them if they haven’t wowed me by that point, but more like if a book can’t even fail to generate some interest by the end of the first chapter, even a little, I’m moving on.

      Of course, the interest could be anything from a character I find appealing to the writing style to some little joke that makes me grin, so I guess there may be a greater chance of that happening in the first chapter than having me hooked after 5 chapters.

      Maybe this’ll mean that I end up missing out on a few books that get better later on. That’s always a risk. But more often than not I find that a good engaging writing style can make up for a slow start to a book’s story, so if there’s not even any of that within the first chapter, chances are I’m not going to find it later on.

  • @ Bob, Ria, & Lynn’s Books: I’ll be interested to see if some of our observations match your own.

  • Timothy Bond says:

    For most of us, this opportunity to be reviewed by an elite group of reviewers is a scary proposition. Thanks for stepping up and joining the program. I look forward to the results, though I know there are issues with my book that will certainly cause some to go no farther than the first 100 pages… Good luck to all the authors who submitted, and I hope that everyone learns something of value from the experience.

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