Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, in which my book Exile: The Book of Ever was a semi-finalist, was a great success. It yielded exposure for a number of excellent self-published novels and created an engaging forum for writers, readers, and reviewers to discuss the changing industry of publishing.
As such, Mr. Lawrence has just announced that the SPFBO will continue, and submissions are now open for SPFBO2:
The question now is whether there is enough action/interest in the self-publishing world to make this something that happens every year, or if it was a one-off that relied on a build up of manuscripts for consideration.
I’m going to open the gates for SPFBO2.
If we get 250+ entries I’ll go ahead with proceedings. If we don’t … I won’t. It rather depends whether the self-publishers out there that can be reached have 250+ qualify manuscripts to hand. Submissions will be open for all of April.
He posted this announcement today and he’s already got 12 entries, so it doesn’t look like there will be a problem filling out that 250 book minimum. That said, you’ve got a month to submit your self-published novel, so if you missed out the first time, now’s your chance. The rules are simple:
i) No book that was entered in SPFBO1 can be entered into SPFBO2
ii) The book must be #1 in a series or a stand-alone.
iii) The book must actually be self-published, not something you’re considering self-publishing in future.
iv) It must be a fantasy book.
Mark goes on to explain the contest in more detail, which you can read about here.
I’m thrilled to see that the contest will continue. It doesn’t look like I’ll have an eligible entry ready by the end of April, but if you’ve self-published a fantasy novel this is an incredible opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up.
Novelist Ros Barber wrote a piece for The Guardian’s Books blog last week that tacitly pans self-publishing in favor of traditional publication.* Entitled “For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way,” the article is a list of points explaining why Ms. Barber won’t self-publish, and why you shouldn’t either. Here’s my point by point rebuttal.
“You have to forget writing for a living.”
“If you self-publish your book, you are not going to be writing for a living. You are going to be marketing for a living. Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing.”
Barber’s first assertion, like all those that follow, is anecdotal at best and a blind assertion without any evidentiary support at worst. The only explanation for the 90/10 percent ratio she cites is that a single self-published author who commented on her blog put the percentage of time he actually spent writing in the single digits.
This breakdown is contrary to my own experience and that of pretty much every self-published writer I’ve talked to, but, more importantly, it also ignores a fundamental truth of publishing in 2016: every author is also a marketer.
Ms. Barber’s article is very quaint, in that it makes references and draws allusions to a type of writing life that simply does not exist anymore, except perhaps for a very select few. She impliedly invokes the image of a writer who focuses all of his time on the craft itself, “reveling” in the language of his creation, likely hunched over an Underwood putting words to the page with equal parts passion and torment. The type of writer whose only obligation is the writing–the craft, oh, don’t we love to call it the Craft; the words, my friend! Hemingway and Joyce!–who doesn’t have to leave his desk until his editor tells him its time to accept his Man Booker prize.