Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A One-Legged Man in an Ass-Kicking Contest (#IWSG June 2017)

Its IWSG day. Here's a good one to feel insecure about.

About a month ago I submitted my book, Ten Thousand Days, for Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. For those who don't know, Mark is the very successful and respected author of fantasy books such as Prince of Thorns, Prince of Fools and the David Gemmell Award-winning Emperor of Thorns. In addition to his success, Mark is a big supporter of new up-and-coming writers, especially independent writers, and so for the last three years he has lent his name to the aforementioned SPFBO.

Each year between 250 and 300 self-published authors submit their books to Mark, who delegates them to ten respected book review blogs. Each reviewer then pours over the books and chooses their favourite of their bunch, and the top ten books are then read and reviewed by all the blogs so that a single winner will be chosen. The full list of this year's 300 entries can be found here.

Not all the books will be read cover-to-cover and be reviewed of course, but the reviewers promise to give them all a chance and review as many as they can. Officially there is no prize, but getting chosen as a top contender and especially a finalist is a huge marketing boost, as it will result in numerous reviews on many top sites that will get your name and book in front of tons of potential new readers. It's so much buzz, in fact, that last year at least two of the finalists were approached by major publishers with the offer of contracts.

Last year's winner. This guy is now a big deal in my circles, and this book (and its sequel) will be re-released from Penguin/Random House next year.

The field of competition is wide, since the only real requirement for the contest is that your book is self-published. On the one hand, you have people entering who have literally just hit "publish" on Amazon with their very first book, who had it edited by their cousin and paid $5 for a cover on Fiverr. On the other end of the spectrum you have hybrid authors who have published traditionally, have large self-published back catalogs, and are well-known names in the field. There are people in the contest who run their own successful small publishing houses, or have agents. This is a business and a livelihood for them and they invest thousands of dollars into their covers and editors, and produce quality rivaling anything put out by the major publishers. One of the contestants is currently in the news for having just signed a $100,000 deal with Audible for the audio rights to his next book (he's sold 500,000 copies of his last half-dozen books or so).

Where exactly is the line for "up-and-coming" author, anyway?

Am I intimidated and insecure about going up against this kind of competition? Damn right I am. In the immortal words of Jim Ross, I feel about as prepared for this as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. I fully expect to be eliminated in the earliest wave of cuts. If I'm lucky I may get a polite "good try" review.

Pictured: A polite, "good try" review.

Some of the folks involved in the contest are currently running "fantasy brackets" (like in fantasy sports) to pick who they think the winners might be, based on simply the covers, blurbs and current reviews for the books. Imagine my surprise when someone actually picked Ten Thousand Days as one of the finalists (they picked it for top spot in the Fantasy-Faction bracket). I know it doesn't mean anything, the person who chose it is not a judge, nor have they even actually read the book, but it was a pleasant surprise.

So anyway, the contest is just ramping up and will be ongoing for awhile (it takes a long time to go through 300 books). In the next couple of months though, if anyone wants to drop my name or mention Ten Thousand Days anywhere, it would be much appreciated. Review copies of the new-and-improved version is available to anyone who wants one.

June IWSG Question: Did you ever say “I quit?" If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

All the time! Then I usually just take a nap and I feel better.

Seriously though, I've never officially "quit" writing, though there have been times when I've fallen into a lull and not written very much. But other than six months here or there I've been officially "writing" since high school, so over twenty years now. That's how long I've actively been composing words for the purpose of other people reading them. If you included stories I wrote for English classes in school (which was always my favourite assignments) I'm at about thirty years.

The lulls are usually caused by periods when I'm just really busy or tired or feeling down, and I can't find the time and the motivation to put the words down on the page. I haven't really quit, I don't think I could quit writing any more than I could quit eating lunch. It's just part of what I do. But sometimes you need a break, and ultimately those periods of downtime help you recharge, I think.

One last thing...

I just released a brand new (rather long) short story, "Revenge of the Lycanterrancephalopod" on Amazon. It's the sequel to my mildly-received story, "Tentacles Under a Full Moon." Both stories are very dark comic fantasy tales (Grindark? Grimlark? Grimdork?), and are full of violence, profanity and crass humour. Reader discretion is advised.

I decided to put both stories on Amazon KDP Select to give it a whirl. So if you have an Unlimited account, you can pick them up for free anytime. For everyone else, both "Revenge" and "Tentacles" are FREE to download for the next three days (June 7-9) so grab a copy now! If you like weird, obscene and hilarious fantasy, this is for you! Or maybe it's not, whatever. But it's free, right?

Blurb is below.

A serious sequel to a serious story. A story about grim, dark, hilarious misery.

SUGGESTED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES: Contains violence, coarse language, and alleged dwarf ejaculate. Allegedly.

One year after the great battle between the Werebear and the Landopus in the Barony of Amorous Felines in the Kingdom of Dyskovenia, a great evil has returned to once again scour the land. This new threat is both hairy AND slimy, as well as thoroughly indestructible.

A new group of heroes has risen to combat the threat, and this time, they mean business. They've brought along an inexperienced elf, a disgusting dump dwarf, a foul-mouthed uff and a vampiric chicken.

Maybe this isn't going to work out after all...



The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

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