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holy moly #spfbo7 is open

Anyone else have the theme from Mortal Kombat playing on repeat in their head today? I know I do! How exciting folks another year of this competition to look forward to.

This year Before We Go Blog has been blessed with a chance to participate as a judging team for the competition. What that means is we will be receiving a portion of the entries to judge and submit scores on. This is my second SPFBO, I was a team member a few years ago on Team Qwillery. But this is the first time I have taken the reigns. My team is super dynamic. We have readers and authors from all over. We are students, teachers, authors, podcasters, and bloggers. We will bring a wide background of knowledge and the love of the written word to the table. Plus a pretty good sense of humor too. (please see Elmo team mascot)

We are thrilled to see what amazing adventures this competition brings. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

About the competition

Please see Mark Lawrence’s Blog Post About the Competition

“The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.

It is not:
i) Perfect. Great books will slip through this net just like they do every other net.
ii) Aimed at getting traditional publications deals. Some authors opt for them but it would be an insult to suggest that the holy grail for self published authors is a deal with a big publisher.
iii) Charged for. This is totally free. The enormous effort given by the reviewers/blogs is a gift. Don’t abuse it. #NoDrama

The rules are:

i) No book that was entered in a previous SPFBO can be reentered.
ii) The book must be #1 in a series or a stand-alone.
iii) The book must actually be self-published by the start date, not something you’re considering self-publishing in future.
iv) It must be a fantasy book. (If you say it’s fantasy then it is. But if it isn’t really it won’t get far.)
v) One book per author.
vi) No anthologies.
vii) No short stories – books must be 40,000 words or longer.
viii) Your manuscript must be uploaded via the online form as a .mobi file when you apply to enter the contest. You will not be allowed to update or change it.
ix) Don’t contact the blog to which you’ve been assigned. You can contact me about important issues.

Not rules, just observations

– It doesn’t matter how long your book has been published, Ten years? Fine.

– Reviews will be honest and in the general tone/style of the blogs involved. Glowing reviews carry most weight when the public understand that if a blogger doesn’t like a book, they will say so.

The winner will receive the prestigious Selfie Stick Award but the true prize is the publicity of being the winner, plus the bonus of being reviewed on the blogs of 10 highly respected fantasy bloggers.

Frankly you can’t buy better publicity than that. The winning book will have been selected as the best from a field of 250+ self-published works.

My blog pages associated with last year’s SPFBO got 70,000 views during the contest and well over a hundred reviews were posted on the ten blogs!

We have an SPFBO (Spifbo) group on Facebook. And on Twitter the #SPFBO hashtag is a good way to keep updated.

The contest progresses as follows:

In phase 1 which takes 5 months:

1. The blogs put on their agent’s hat and go through the slush pile of novels allocated to them (between 25 and 30 books) to find the one title they will put through to the final.

This does not mean they have to read all the books. My own agent would go through that number in a day. But hopefully they will read part of all of them and all of some.

2. Review that chosen title.

3. Select their 3 favourite covers for the cover art contest in which they will later vote.

It is hoped that they will also review some of their favorite books from the selection they were given.

In phase 2 which takes 6 months:

1. The blogs read and score all 9 finalists from the other blogs.

2. Review their favorite.

3. Review the winner.

If their own finalist turns out to remain their favourite and to win, then they have no reviews to write in phase 2!”

about the review team

Beth Tabler

Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest  / Twitter

Jodie Crump

Jodie Crump is the creator of the Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub blog. She either lives in Florida with her husband and sons, or in a fantasy book-she’ll never tell which. When she’s not reading, Jodie balances her time between homeschooling her hooligans, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and lamenting her inability to pronounce “lozenge”. Find her online at Witty and Sarcastic Book Club or Twitter

Steve Caldwell

steve caldwell

I have literally been a fan of fantasy/magic my whole life, with some of the earliest memories I have being my mother stories of brujas and spirits in the town in Puerto Rico where she was born. What really flipped the fantasy switch on full, though, was discovering a battered copy of the Sword of Shannara that cost me 25 cents at the local used book store when I was 11.

Its been a long journey since that day almost 40 years ago, and thousands of books later, here we are. Living with my wife, our two non-adult kids, four cats and a vicious attack beast Chihuahua about an hour south of Seattle, I’m glad to be able to share my love of fantasy and science fiction, especially Indie and small press, with anyone who’s interested.

Where to Find Him



Eleni A.E.

Eleni is a Greek student who grew up in Italy, and is currently working on getting her BA Honours degree in Literature from a Scottish university! When not typing away for her disseration, she can be found reading all the SFF she can get her hands on, and reviewing it for fun when inspiration strikes and she just needs to share her passion for reading. Alternatively, she will definitely be with a needy Westie in her arms watching series or movies. You can find her writing on her shared blog with her course mate at  where there are also posts about other literary genres, or follow her day to day ramblings on Twitter @eleni_argyro or Instagram @the_words_we_read .

G.M Nair

G.M Nair Author Photo

G.M. Nair is a crazy person who should never be taken seriously. Despite possessing both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering and a job as an Aviation and Aerospace Consultant, he writes comedy for the stage and screen, and maintains the blog MakeMomMarvel.Com. Now he is making the leap into the highly un-lucrative field of independent book publishing.

G.M. Nair lives in New York City and in a constant state of delusion.



Dylan Marsh

like to talk, read, and write.

I talk with my lifelong friend, Charles, on the Friends Talking Fantasy Podcast. I discuss fantasy content on social media quite a bit too.

I read a lot of speculative fiction—mostly fantasy novels.

I write for Before We Go Blog. I’m also a graduate student in a Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program. I write a lot for that as well. Most of that writing focuses on research I conduct on sense of calling and the experience of meaningfulness; I’m an author on several peer-reviewed scientific journal articles on these topics.

I also like playing tennis.

Where to find him

Personal Twitter: @DylanRMarsh

Friends Talking Fantasy Podcast Accounts

Twitter: @TheFTFPodcast1

Instagram: @TheFTFPodcast

Facebook: @TheFTFPodcast

Jason aycock

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this SPFBO team! I LOVE self-published fantasy, and though I’ve only been reading it a few years it has become a staple of my TBR pile. How did I get here? Well…

Back in 2018 I made a goal to read more debut novels. I was contacted by a few self-published authors who asked if I’d be interested in reading their debuts. At first I wanted to say no because I was under the impression that if you were self-published it had to mean your book was bad otherwise a traditional publisher would have picked it up. I had a lot to learn. And thank the literary gods I agreed to give them a try because they became my gateway to a whole new world of great fantasy.

Soon after that I discovered the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (#SPFBO) hosted by Mark Lawrence and I quickly discovered there were many more great self-published fantasy stories out there. I’ve followed SPFBO each year since and It’s been one of the best ways to discover great new fantasy reads. I then decided to host Self-Published Fantasy Month on my blog, Off The TBR. For the last three years during the month of September I’ve done that, and this past year had help from a few other friends including our team leader Beth Tabler. So when Beth asked me to join her team this year I jumped at the chance. I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Where to find me




Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn’t matter the format, or when it was published or produced–just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke’s in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that’s his heaven.Where to find me



Rebecca Hill

Hello! I am Becca, and you can find me at or


on Twitter! I am a mom of two boys, and have been married to my husband for almost 15 years. I am a hopeless book addict, and you can usually find me with at least 3 books on the go. In addition to reading, I teach college history courses, work in DC as a Communications Analyst, and also work in social media management and book editing! I also enjoy some crafting, so if I am not physically reading a book, I am listening to one while I relax with a project. I stay happily busy!


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