Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off is well underway, and several of the participating book bloggers have posted progress updates and reviews. Mark keeps a page on his own blog updated with all of the latest additions, so check that out and follow the hashtag #SPFBO on Twitter if you want to stay up to date.
First, Sarah is doing what she calls a mini-review (which really isn’t that mini) for every book she reads, which is going above and beyond the call of the Blog-Off: participating reviewers are only asked to select their favorite of the 25 or so books sent to them. How they do that is up to them, and they aren’t required to finish every book, let alone review every book on their site. So the fact that Sarah is taking the time to read and review each book shows an incredibly gracious and determined professionalism on her part, especially given the personal setbacks she’s had to deal with recently. Hang in there, Sarah! Thank you for your work and effort, and I think I speak for all of the authors involved when I say our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Second, Sarah’s first batch of reviews is overwhelmingly positive. Bookworm Blues uses a five-star rating system. Of the five books she’s read, four of them received four-star reviews, and one received a three-star review. This speaks highly of the work submitted to the contest thus far, particularly given that she chose the first five books at random.
This may be the golden age of self-publishing, but self-published authors still face a significant hurdle in getting their work taken seriously; many reviewers and readers alike still presume that self-published fiction is generally of lower quality than its traditionally published counterparts. The fact that so many book bloggers, who have become some of the most important book critics of this generation, are taking self-published work seriously enough to review it in the same manner they review fiction published by the Big Five is incredibly encouraging.
I wouldn’t have been any less enthusiastic about this contest if all of the reviews were negative, but it is wonderful to see self-published fiction being praised.