SPFBO 6 – Intro and Cover Contest
The sixth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO/Spiffbo) begins today!
We’re super excited here at the Hive; we’ve already lined up our judges and interviewed them, and now we can reveal to you our process for this year.
It’s… it’s going to be a lot like our process for SPFBO 5.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The 300 books have now been split between the ten blogs. That’s right – we have a batch of 30 beautiful books to get through to put forward one finalist.
The best thing about participating in SPFBO as part of a team rather than as an individual is that round one ends up being about as fair as it can be. As the contest progresses you’ll hear us continually stress that much of what gets said is completely subjective. Aside from issues with (e.g.) spelling or grammar, which are more or less indisputable, the bloggers’ opinions are exactly that: opinions. So when there are five pairs of eyes potentially reading the opening chapters of every single book entered, chances are we’ll be able to give a more rounded view of each one, and to choose our finalist according to how many of us it managed to strike the right chord with.
Here’s how round one is going to work:
- The five of us (Theo, Beth, Nils, Filip, and Julia) will work through the first 20% of each of the 30 books. That’s right – all 30 books will be read by all our judges.
- In all cases, we’ll try our absolute best to read up to 20% of every book before making the decision to eliminate anyone.
- We’ll provide balanced feedback on every single book we eliminate.
- Like some of the other blogs, we’ll be eliminating books in small batches as and when our collective feedback comes in. Since we’re working through them in no particular order, please don’t assume that we hated your book just because it happens to be in our very first batch of rejections! We’re aiming to start announcing these in August.
- We’ll continue to eliminate those that the majority of us concur are not finalist material until we’re left with a handful that show promise. We’ll then announce these as our semi-finalists. Over the following weeks we’ll attempt to read each semi-finalist from beginning to end, posting full reviews and eliminating them one at a time until we’re left with only our finalist.
|J E Thompson||A New Beginning||Samuel Gately||The Headlock of Destiny|
|Meg MacDonald||Oath Sworn||Simon Kewin||Hedge Witch|
|Megan Haskell||Forged in Shadow||Timandra Whitecastle||Queens of the Wyrd|
|Jake Kerr||Tommy Black and the Staff of Light||Dustin Porta||Whalemoon|
|Erik A. Otto||A Tale of Infidels||Derek Prior||Last of the Exalted|
|Selina R. Gonzalez||Prince of Shadow and Ash (The Mercenary and the Mage #1)||Kate Ramsey||Finding Fairy Tales|
|Sharon Van Orman||Lazarus Code: A First Family Sage||Madolyn Rogers||The Copper Assassin|
|M. J. Padgett||Eiagan’s Winter||Kai Greenwood||Code of the Communer|
|Marc Vunj Kannon||Unbinding The Stone||Antonio Roberts||Vestige: Rise of the Pureblood|
|Caren Hahn||Burden of Power||R.J. Batla||Fire Eyes Awakened|
|Suzannah Rowntree||A Wind from the Wilderness||Stas Borodin||Magic, Sorcery and Witchcraft|
|Robert Zangari||A Prince’s Errand, Book One of Tales of the Amulet||Olga Werby||God of Small Affairs|
|Angela J. Ford||Pawn||Alexzander Christion||By the Hand of Dragons: AlinGuard|
|Marco Marek||Hyperearth||J.J. Coffelt||Nightfall: Blessing of Fury Book I|
|Marc Secchia||The Pygmy Dragon||E.B. Brooks||Emissary|
The annual cover contest is one of the most fun traditions of SPFBO. It showcases the best of the best in terms of production value and surface quality, and highlights the importance of first impressions in a market where hidden talent often flounders amongst the currents of mediocrity.
How does it work? Each of the ten blogs must select three covers to put forward. Once all thirty have been chosen, there’ll be a public vote as well as a blogger vote; surprisingly, each typically yield contrasting results, which makes things even more interesting!
We have had some cracking covers this year (dragons seem to be a theme though – how many can you spot?). We put it to a vote, and our top six covers are:
The Pygmy Dragon by Marc Secchia (cover by Joemel Requeza)
There’s something stunning about this one. The cover captures the dual nature of the protagonist, somewhere between human and dragon, immediately sets forth the conflict between the different nature of the two. The warm colours make this a joy to take in, and the weave of roots in the background hints at a woodland setting of some sort — all these aspects excite the reader’s imagination. – Filip
The Copper Assassin by Madolyn Rogers (cover art by Wirawan Pranoto of Polar Engine studio, cover design by Shawn T King of STK Kreations)
I love how this cover hints at an action packed adventure story. The central figure appears very ‘Marvel’ esq – the armour and weaponry with its flecks of red light speak of predominant magic use, and the dragon lurking behind is just the icing on the cake! The typography is also akin to The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee, which is another cover I really love. – Nils
Prince of Shadow and Ash by Selina R. Gonzalez (cover design by Deranged Doctor Design)
The simplicity of this cover drew me to it; a bright bold colour with distinct typography means it’s quite eye-catching and you can read the title at thumb-nail size. I find this really appealing when viewing a number of covers at once, that I can easily distinguish which book it is. As to the design and artwork, I liked the subtlety and the fact it still conveys, with the feature of a sword, the feeling that this is a fantasy novel. The two different animals gave me the sense of perhaps two different factions in opposition to each other? I’m looking forward to what it might reveal! – Beth
Whalemoon by Dustin Porta (cover design by Perie Wolford)
OK, I’m a sucker for a pretty ship and I was drawn more to the accurate renditions of a squarer rigger and a sampan, before I even noticed the spear-carrying possibly female warrior. Not sure about the colour scheme, but the female protagonist, clash of cultures and nautical accuracy have got me excited to start reading this one. – Theo
Forged in Shadow by Megan Haskell (cover art by Sam Kim, cover design by Shawn T King of STK Kreations)
Come on, it’s a sword and a snakey/serpenty thing and a cool border and a cunning title with the “in” inside the “O”… The balance of light and colour appealed to me, and the crosspieces on the sword have a kind of wingy-feel to them that reminded me of the sword “The Malice” in Peter Newman’s the Vagrant. Although no idea about any of the characters I’m already drawn to the story. – Theo
Nightfall by J. J. Coffelt (cover art by Ryan Radkye)
I love Nightfall‘s cover! I can’t tell whether it does a good job of forecasting the content of the novel quite yet — I have to read it first — but it certainly makes a statement. “This book,” it says, “is all about adventure, and unexplored horizons, and a band of heroic allies united in their purpose to set foot where none has been set before.” It’s like a snapshot of the world, and it’s an excellent one. – Filip
As you can see, there are a variety of styles, which reflects our judges’ diverse individual tastes as well as our consideration of numerous different elements, including how distinctive each cover looked in thumbnail form.
Unfortunately, we can only forward three on to Mark. So, without further ado, the Fantasy Hive’s three nominations for the SPFBO 6 cover contest are Nightfall, Forged in Shadow, and The Pygmy Dragon!