Was SPFBO 4 worth entering?

So SPFBO 4 is over and the excellent Orconomics took the winner’s spot. I entered my book The First Fear into it and whilst it got a pretty good review from one of the judges it didn’t make it to the final rounds. I’ve been asked by a few other authors whether entering the competition is worth it, here are my experiences.

Some of the issues

If you’re a self-published or Indy fantasy author, entering doesn’t cost anything so that’s a bonus. However, I feel as though the entrants need to be vetted more carefully. The rules clearly state that the entered book needs to be a complete novel, either a standalone or series starter. Despite this rule, a few mid-series books and even some books that have very dubious fantasy credentials made it into the competition. This is not a new issue either as the year I entered Heir to the Sundered Crown there were a few entrants that fit the submission rules dubiously at best.

The big question, however, is whether the competition benefits sales and I have to say – no. If your book gets a poor review from one of the judges then naturally the audience of the competition will likely avoid purchasing your title. In short, it’s a big gamble. It all depends on the judges too. If your book is say an urban fantasy and you end up with a judge who is more into epic fantasy and doesn’t like urban then, well, your book is stuffed. Fantasy is a hugely broad genre so the chances of getting a judge that may not like your sub-genre is pretty likely. The community of judges running the competition are a close-knit bunch, so keep that in mind.

The Good. The Bad and the Ugly

Without a doubt, the most beneficial thing I got from the competition was interacting with and meeting the other entrants. Most were in the same boat as me and the sharing of knowledge and the new networking contacts made is great.

However, as the competition is so socially involved via social media etc there was the inevitable falling outs and tiresome drama that comes with it. Some of the judges did themselves no favours this year and quite frankly seeing the forming of online witch hunts and mobs caused me to rethink the entire fantasy community. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome individuals in it but there are also toxic ones.

A man’s reputation was almost destroyed by unprovable accusations for example. Then, of course, there are those authors that attack the judges for receiving a poor review (it’s part of being a writer, if you can’t handle criticism then you’re not in the right field). Accusations of bias and unfair treatment also reared their heads over the course of the competition.

Is it worth it?

From my personal view and only because of the cool folks and contacts I made I’d have to say yes. My books got a few more eyes on them than they otherwise would, but in terms of improving sales etc then SPFBO was a big disappointment.

It was an interesting experience and I may be open to enter again in the future (if I get round to writing a standalone or new series). I’m now devoting my time to finishing the Sundered Crown Saga and The Empowered Ones series (updates to come over the coming months.)

Overall rating –  6.6/10

SPFBO 5 is now open for submissions so if you want to enter visit – https://mark—lawrence.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-official-self-published-fantasy.html

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End of Year Review: 2018

2018 is coming to an end and I have to say its been a bit of an odd one. It’s been far, far better than 2017 for me personally but the wider world seems to have become weirder and stranger than ever before.

So, in January of 2018 I started a new job and I’ve loved every minute of it! I am a content manager at a cyber security company and have been able to produce a lot of fun content ranging from infographics, articles and videos. Even better is that the company won two big awards over the course of the year, something incredible for a business that only took their product to market in February of this year!

Me and the wife also moved away from Bristol to the city of Worcester in order for me to be closer to work and I have to say it’s a big improvement on where we used to live. The city itself is beautiful and full of history (You can read more here) and our new home is a lot more spacious and generally nice to live in than our old one which was essentially a one bedroom shed.

Book wise I hit my target of releasing one book a year. In June I published The First Fear via Amazon KDP and whilst sales have not been that great the book itself has been getting some excellent feedback and reviews. I also entered it into this years SPFBO competition and it achieved my goal of it achieving at least a 3-star review from the judge. (Skip to the 14 minute mark for my review). I’ll be doing a blog on my thoughts of the SPFBO soon.

Aside from publishing The First Fear I also revealed the new cover art for Book 4 in the Sundered Crown Saga. Titled: Voyage for the Sundered Crown the book will see Luxon following in the footsteps of the legendary hero Zahnia the Great and his attempts to unite the peoples of Esperia and free Delfinnia from the forces of Danon. The book is probably the most ambitious one I’ve ever attempted so please bear with me as it will take time. I’ve penned it in for a late 2019 release but don’t be too surprised if it gets pushed back to 2020.

As well as Voyage I announced the sequel to The First Fear. Titled: The Temple of Arrival the book picks up where The First Fear ended and delves more into the world of the Supreme Imperium and the Empowered Ones. Once again, the fantastic Rezar has done the cover work and the book is around 50% complete. I’m aiming for a summer 2019 release for it.

For all of you audiobook fans out there, the audiobook version of The First Fear is nearing completion and will be released late January 2019. More news as I get it!

2018 has been a busy, hectic year for me but now that I’m settled in my new job and home, I hope 2019 will be a stable one and one where I get to do a lot more writing and be more creative. Of course, with the wider world becoming increasingly mental in terms of politics and culture this might be easier said than done.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and keep on reading!

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The First Fear on Sale now until December 2nd

The First Fear my latest release and SPFBO entrant is on sale from today until December 2nd. Pick up your copy for just 0.99p/c in the USA and UK only on Kindle. Get your copy via: http://mybook.to/FirstFear


The Supreme rules the world.

For centuries the Supreme has reigned with an iron fist. The people are slaves to her whim and at the mercy of her followers who revere her as their goddess. Using a supernatural ability, known as the ‘Power’ she is able to channel emotions and convert them into superhuman abilities.

Some Resist.

Not all live their lives in servitude. A few rare people also possess the Power and try to fight. These Empowered Ones are hunted mercilessly by the Supreme and her servants, for she knows the threat they pose to her will. None has dared to challenge her outright. That is until now.

Elian, a young boy living at the edge of the Imperium discovers he too possesses the Power with devastating consequences for both himself and the girl he loves. On the run, they encounter a ragtag band of resistance fighters called the Liberators. Among their ranks are others with the gift and their leader Vavius who believes that the key to overthrowing the Supreme lies in the ruins of the ravaged lands of the once mighty Kingdom of Aeranyth.

Pursued and hunted for their gifts by the sinister First Fear and the Hollowed, the world’s fate rests in the hands of the Empowered Ones.

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The Sundered Crown Saga Sale!


The holidays are approaching so what better time to pick up some books. The first three books in my Sundered Crown Saga are on sale for just 0.99p/c via Kindle until November 19th. If you’ve already got Heir, now is the perfect time to get the others!

If you’ve already got Heir, now is the perfect time to get the others!
Get Heir – mybook.to/HTTSC
Get War – mybook.to/War
Get Quest – mybook.to/Qftsc

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The First Fear Audiobook and an appeal

Hi folks I hope you’re well this balmy October. Just a quick update, I have some news to share regarding the audiobook edition of The First Fear and there’s some sad news coming from the SFF writing community.

Audiobook in the works

First off, after a few months of searching I’ve finally discovered a narrator I really like to do the audiobook version of The First Fear. I’ll be revealing more next month but I’m hoping for a late January, early February release date.

In other news I’m still waiting for The First Fear to be reviewed for the SPFBO competition so technically I’m still in the running! As for the writing side of things I’ve not made as much progress as I’d like and after several read throughs I’ve decided to rework what I’ve done so far for Sundered Crown Book 4. Getting the first draft right first go is a rare thing so I’m not too concerned.

The SFF Community Coming Together

Lastly, there is sad news in the SFF author community. A fellow SPFBO author Brandon Barr is in the final stages of terminal leukaemia, and sadly does not have much time left.

The community is rallying behind him and his family and is using its influence and reach to try and ensure that Brandon’s wife and children are looked after following his passing. To that end a GoFundMe campaign has been set up for him so if you can, please donate anything you can spare.

The GoFundMe campaign can be found at – https://www.gofundme.com/help-support-brandon-barr039s-family

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SPFBO Bookfunnel Giveaway

Hi everybody, sorry not updating much lately me and the wife are in the middle of moving house so things are pretty hectic at the moment and are unlikely to settle down until after next week!

Anyhow, if you’re following the SPFBO competition you might be interested to know that there is a big promotion currently underway on Bookfunnel. Check it out at –  https://books.bookfunnel.com/spfbo4promo/wqd4cu9bov 

My entry for last year, Heir to the Sundered Crown is in it as is a 5 chapter sample of this year’s entry The First Fear.


Happy Reading!

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SPFBO Fantasy Sales

The Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition kicks off today and to celebrate over 100 of the entries are on sales for the next 5 days for just 0.99c/p.

Get your books HERE

The First Fear is in this year’s SPFBO. Get your copy for just 99p/c from today until August 5th.  Get your copy from – mybook.to/FirstFear 

Fancy some historical fiction this summer? Get Unconquered: Blood of Kings for just 0.99p/c until August 4th. Get it from – myBook.to/BOK

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SPFBO Cover Contest Public Vote

The SPFBO book cover contest is now open to the public vote and I need your help once again. This is a really big deal as the winner will receive massive coverage in the biggest fantasy indy publishing contest of the year.

Vote at – http://www.easypolls.net/poll.html?p=5b463fa9e4b0f78c70ad5409

For more info visit – https://mark—lawrence.blogspot.com/2018/07/cover-contest-spfbo-4.html


I massively appreciate your support. Let’s get the First Fear into the top spot!

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I’m in SPFBO 2018

Hi everyone, just an update on how things are going.

This week sees the release of my new book The First Fear. I hope you enjoy it as much I did writing it. If you’ve not pre-ordered then don’t worry you will be able to pick it up for the special launch price of just 99p/c until the 25th of June.

I received the final version of the paperback edition and it is looking very swish. The cover looks excellent and the interior is looking good. Here’s some pictures –



The First Fear releases on June 22nd!








What’s SPFBO?

In other news I’ve submitted The First Fear into this years SPFBO contest. Last year I entered with Heir to the Sundered Crown but unfortunately didn’t progress too far. This year I have the same judge, so I’m hoping I’ve improved enough to warrant a good score!

You can read more about SPFBO at – https://mark—lawrence.blogspot.com/2018/06/spfbo-2018-call-to-authors.html

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