Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Final Round of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016

300 contestants have been narrowed to 10 finalists.

The final round starts on November 1st 2016.

I will be keeping tabs on the final round on this page, recording scores for finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and linking any reviews. #SPFBO

The reviews, the books, and the blogs are all linked on this table. (click scores to get reviews)

* = Blogger chose this finalist
*= Blogger's top book.

In case you're interested, we have 5 male and 5 female finalists, from a field that was 49% male, 33% female and 18% unknown (initials).

I'm encouraging bloggers to give their finalist a score that allows them space to reward any even better books that come along.

I'm also encouraging bloggers to use the range of marks since if they mark all the books between 7 and 8 they will have a smaller impact on the final result than a blogger who scores between 2 and 9. (the range is 1 to 10).

On Fantasy-Factor Laura Hughes discusses the SPFBO at the half way point.
On Pornokitsch Jared covers 4 books in one go and agonizes about the vexed business of numbers.
On Fantasy Book Critic a general round up and stock take.
On Laura Hughes's site, a general SPFBO assessment.
Jared does a three in one on Pornokitsch.
Lynn enters the final round and targets her first victim!
Exit interviews with three runner uppers.
Exit interviews with two more runner uppers!
Sarah starts her final round campaign on Bookworm Blues.
A phase 2 round up from Fantasy-Faction.
Bibliotropic's Ria on ratings vs rankings.
Pornokitsch is first to the finish post, reviewing their last 3 finalists!
On Kristen Reads Too Much a review of Grey Bastards.
Elitist Book Reviews on the business of writing good.


  1. I'm curious, and if it isn't too much inside baseball, how the 2015 finalists careers were affected by the SPFBO?

    1. That's an imponderable since writing careers rise and fall to their own tune and it would be hard to know how much depended on any given factor.

      Suffice it to say that none of them are household names yet.

    2. I'll have you know I am name in my household.

      Though I rank somewhere below the goldfish and that was flushed down the... given an appropriate service of remembrance a few years ago.

  2. That review for Path of Flames is incredible. I had never heard of Phil Tucker, but the book has 71 reviews on Amazon and has 4.7 stars. I think I will check it out.

    1. Having recently finished the 3 books he has published I would say they are well worth a read.

  3. I was thinking about the problem of reviewers/bloggers who do or don't use the full range of scores and therefore influence the final result less than those who do.

    We have a similar issue with appointment panels at work and the way we get round that is that
    a) each member of the panel works out their score
    b) each member of the panel then puts the candidates in rank order of score, 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc
    c) it is the ranking numbers (1 for 1st, 2 for 2nd etc) which are then totalled across all panel members.
    d) the one with the lowest total ranking number (and therefore highest average rating across all reviewers) is the one who is the winner.

    While not perfect this does mean that the views of each blogger/reviewer have equal impact on the overall outcome.

    Just a thought - maybe for next year.

    1. The problem with this method is that all the books need to be read before it can be applied, which removes the opportunity to see the process unfold.

    2. They could sort of rank as they read if you feel you need to show progress, inserting and adjusting along the way (so some books may get bumped down as it goes). I think ranking would be a good way to go, personally, since every reviewer will rate differently based on their own preferences (when to use a 7 versus 5, etc). Ranking will be a solid comparison with little ambiguity with how one reviewer rated versus another. It's also easier to rank than to dole out low ratings (like 2s).

  4. We'll be announcing our finalist on Thursday Sept 29 at noon EST.

    Kat Hooper for

  5. You know what, when books are good, Pornokitsch has a way of doing reviews which really make you want to go out then and there to read it; I bought both Path of Flames and Senlin Ascends (go read this one too - Mark has been banging the drum for this and it's well worth it) straight after reading they chose their finalist.

    Really excited to see their reviews for the other finalists.

    (Little backstory: I first found Pornokitsch through r/fantasy and their reviews for the Gemmell Awards - I think it was the review of Traitor's Blade which really piqued my interest - and I've read whatever gets posted on r/fantasy from Pornokitsch ever since)

  6. I also bought Path of Flames and Senlin Ascends based on Pornokitsch's reviews. Haven't read Senlin Ascends yet, but Path of Flames was a lot of fun.

  7. A couple of comments. One, you could potentially control for some of the variation between different reviewers' scoring methods by eliminating outliers. For example, you could simply eliminate the highest and the lowest scores.

    Second, I'm very surprised to see Elitist Book Reviews as one of the blogger judges this year. There was some very obvious (and some not so obvious) bias in their reviews based on many accounts, and I wouldn't think that you'd want them tainting the voting process yet again. Also, I'm not convinced they actually read all of the titles as they claimed to have. I'd at least ensure that they don't sign any of the authors prior to the end of the contest (as they did last year), which could easily be seen as biasing the results of their reviews in the contest.

    1. Since you made exactly this comment last year, I will just cut and paste EBR's reply:

      EBR doesn't have a financial interest in Thief. I'm published at Ragnarok, which is awesome. After they saw our review of Thief, they picked up Mike's books. Our "nuclear assault" on the other books couldn't be more incorrect. We are obviously harder on the books than the other review sites, which is our prerogative. Just like it was our prerogative to give Thief a 7 (which is far below the average). In fact, Thief wasn't even our highest scoring finalist.

      We have several reviewers. The guy who personally reviewed Thief actually recused himself from the rest of the process because he felt like he would be too biased. The rest of us read the books individually, then averaged out our scores into those that you see. Nothing malicious. Those books just didn't work for us as well as some of the others in the contest.

      "Vested financial interest." Interesting. As an accountant, this means that we are supposedly receiving financial compensation for Thief. We aren't. In fact, if we were, we wouldn't be Hugo eligible as a Fanzine (and we ARE eligible). We don't make any money from our site. Zero. We don't have ads. We used to get money from Amazon on clickthroughs to books (enough for me to buy a few important books for my reviewers to read that hadn't been sent to us). We don't even bother with that anymore. I don't prepare a P&L or a Balance Sheet for EBR, because there aren't any to prepare. We donate the books we get or give them away in giveaways.

      We have no financial interest in any author...other than we want all authors to sell well so they get money. We like authors to succeed. Whether we are talking about Thief (which we like and hope succeeds more than it already has), to Mark Lawrence's stuff, to McCammon, to whomever...we want them all to have success. But we don't get any of that. We don't get royalties or kickbacks on other people's work, and it's never even been offered to us (is that a thing? Do review sites get these kinds of offers?). We'd reject the offers if they came.

      So no, no financial interest. You act like we've been shilling for Thief all over the place. Why did we give the other books lower scores? Because we didn't like them. We respect the authors for putting their work out there for us to critique. We actually see a lot of promise in those authors. Not sure where your idea that we were compensated for Thief comes from, but the facts and our scores don't actually bear that accusation out.

      It's cool though. No harm, no foul.