Fantasy Faction asked the other nine book bloggers participating in Mark Lawrence’s Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off whether the competition had changed their opinion on self-publishing, and the answers were somewhat surprising.
Seven out of the nine websites to whom Fantasy Faction’s G.R. Matthews (himself a competitor in the contest with his novel The Stone Road) posed the question said that their opinion had either changed for the positive or not changed at all, because they always appreciated self-published fiction. The tenth participating website is Fantasy Faction itself, managed and edited by Marc Aplin, who has historically been skeptical of self-publishing. In a blog post October 2, Aplin wrote that while self-published fiction did appear to have gotten better in the five years since he first read any, the field still seemed dominated by amateurish, unpolished work. He left open the question of whether there was any self-published fantasy out there that could hold its own with the titans of the genre, one presumably to be answered by the final phase of the contest.
Of the other two bloggers whose conclusions about self-publishing were negative, one, Ria from Bibliotropic, took a stance similar to Fantasy Faction’s. Ria explained that while she did find some decent work, the glut of poor work outweighed it, and she did not intend on seeking out more self-published work in the near future.
The other negative response came from Steve from Elitist Book Reviews, who said that his initial impression of self-published books–that they were “made up in large part by garbage”–was only confirmed by the SPFBO.
I found two things surprisingly encouraging about these responses. First and foremost: more than two-thirds of the participating reviewers either already appreciated or came to appreciate the place of self-published fiction in the book market because of the SPFBO. That’s a big number. In Congress, that’s called a supermajority. That’s most of the people involved.
Second, of the three websites that were negative (overall) on self-publishing, only one (Elitist Book Reviews) was outright dismissive of it. Both Bibliotropic and Fantasy Faction felt that while self-published fiction was mostly bad, there were decent books to be found and that the ratio of good to bad may be changing.
It’s also important to note that all three of the bloggers whose reaction was negative on the whole said that they expected to find some good work out there, which is an encouraging thought.
Thanks to G.R. Matthews for putting this poll together, and to all the hard-working bloggers for their time and participation.
Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Fantasy Faction founder Marc Aplin as the author of the article in question, “Has the SPFBO Changed Your Opinion of Self-Pubbed Books.” The article was in fact written by G.R. Matthews, author of The Stone Road and contributor at Fantasy Faction.