This is a bittersweet post to write. As I’m sure many know, I’m stepping away from judging SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off), after serving two years as a judge. I got into the contest after Mark Lawrence reached out to me to help a blogger finish her batch of books during the first phage of the contest in 2018, and then helping her read her finalists. Then, this year, I became a solo judge and it was really fantastic!
I’ll have to admit, before discovering SPFBO, I was one of those ignorant souls who had beef with self-published books, who assumed they couldn’t be good and the rumors were true. It’s embarrassing to admit, especially since I had no grounds to make such claims, considering I didn’t read them, so I admit that right from the start. But oh gosh, did I have a wonderful wake up call ahead of me (and an ironic one, as I may join the self-published ranks myself before too long).
Between being involved in the past two years, I’d fallen in love with a number of books and authors, including:
- The Sword of Kaigen by ML Wang
- Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
- Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord
- Kalanon’s Rising by Darian Smith
- The God’s of Men by Barbara Kloss
- We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
- Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon
- Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe
- Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc
- Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer
And there are so many other authors I have discovered and can’t wait to either read or read more from, on top of those above, including: J.A. Andrews! Carol A. Park! Michael Sliter! Rob J. Hayes! Ben Galley! Keith McArdle! Dyrk Ashton!
I mean, self-published fantasy is just brimming with talent and, while I may not be a judge any longer, I do plan to continue to support, read and lift up self-published books in any way that I can.
I’m going to miss it, a lot. But truth of the matter is, it’s a major time commitment and it’s one I used to be able to swing thanks to working my day job as an actual night job in the library, where it was usually slow and quiet and easy to work on other things. Ever since switching careers last December, that luxury is gone and my free-time is stretched thin. And while I’ve loved supporting and reviewing self-published books for SPFBO, I have a lot of books I want to read, self-published and traditional. And I’m a pretty big mood reader, so reading on a timetable was a bit of a challenge. Plus, I have my own book I want to write and less time than ever to do so. Oh, and a freelance editorial business to run (super shameless plug: participants of SPFBO get a discount when you hire me to work on your novels, so feel free to check that out, if you fancy).
I’d just stretched myself thin and I had to sacrifice something. And unfortunately, after a lot of consideration, SPFBO judging was it. I appreciate your understanding on that!
BUT! I hope you all know that I still care for this community deeply. I am still a supporter of self-published books! I am more than happy to help host guest posts, cover reveals and interviews on my website, or connect you with other bloggers who do the same, if time doesn’t allow me the pleasure of doing it myself, if you were to ask. I definitely plan to follow along with the contest and find some more books to continue devouring my endless TBR. 😉
So, thanks for a fantastic two years, SPFBO community! Keep writing, keep believing in yourself and keep telling your stories. The world needs them now more than ever!