Hello all! Welcome to the SPFBO 4 contest! Thanks, Mark, for hosting this again, this contest is amazing! Everyone on the Weatherwax team is super excited for this next round!
Every blog approaches this contest a little differently, so here’s how it’s going to go down at the Weatherwax Report.
If you weren’t following last years competition you may not know I read 110 SPFBO entries from cover to cover and wrote reviews for them as well. I know I would have no trouble reading and reviewing 30 books before the first portion of the contest ends. However, the thought of nominating a book to be a finalist based completely on my lonesome opinion makes me clench, it makes me pucker – it’s far too much pressure for this gal. So, before it was even official I was going to be a judge I asked BookWol if she would like to enter to be a judge with me in the next contest if there was a spot open. When she said yes I also asked CoffeeArchives, who also said yes!
You’ll hear it said that sometimes a good book simply gets placed with the wrong audience in this competition. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. A really fantastic urban fantasy book can fail with a judge who just doesn’t enjoy that subgenre – it would be a one in a million chance I’d end up nominating a romance over a military fantasy. So, with that in mind, I wanted the people I invited to have diverse tastes to ensure each subgenre has at least one judge that’s partial to it. We were still missing someone who enjoyed paranormal and romance, and as it turned out romance is a favorite of Superstardrifter! So, she was forcibly “asked” to join the Weatherwax team.
Please give a warm welcome to BookWol, CoffeeArchives, and SuperStar Drifter!!!!! I’m going to leave a link at the bottom to their own blogs. You may already be familiar with these guys since many have been nominated for the r/fantasy Stabbies!
4 does not go into 30 evenly, so, I will get 9 books and the other judges will get 7 books each. I will be picking 2 semifinalists, and they will each pick 1 semifinalist. At least that’s our initial plan, we can be flexible if one person hits two really great books.
Once the semifinalists are chosen we will all read each other’s picks and rate them, the book with the highest group rating will move on to be our finalist! In the event of a tie, there will be a trial by combat – authors are advised to keep their weaponry on hand.
We will also be rating each of the other blogger’s finalist nominations as a group instead of individual scores, hopefully, it will give a well-rounded view of the book’s appeal. Throughout the competition, there will be a running SPREADSHEET of our individual scores as they come in, and during phase 2 we’ll notify Mark when we have final group scores and post the review/s. It’s still undecided if we will have 4 reviews for the finalists or just 1. Probably 1. Maybe.
We are going to ask the authors who are assigned to our blog to fill out this FORM to get a better idea of which judge should get what book, it should help to put the best foot forward in the competition for the author. The form will cover what subgenres, writing style, tropes used, length and other things to determine the best judge for the book to help select the right target audience. You obviously don’t have to fill this out, but it would give your book a much better chance if you do.
EXTRA INFO ON THE JUDGES
If you’re interested in getting to know the judges better follow the links below!
I read very fast, I’ll try and slow myself down a little during this competition to allow myself to soak in the book rather than blow through it in a day or so. I tend to be more ‘lenient’ with my ratings and I think a lot of that comes from how I break things down. I rate each book in 7 different categories and end it with an overall rating. This goes a long way in preventing a book from completely bombing and receiving a 1 or 2 star from me. Just because I didn’t like the characters, or maybe the book needed more editing, doesn’t mean a disastrous score. As a result, the majority of the books I read fall into the 6.5 – 7.5 range – this means I liked it, or I could see other people liking it. Books scoring between 7.5 – 8.5 means I really liked it and will actively recommend it to others. Anything over an 8.5 is rare and means I loved it so much I will probably buy it in multiple formats and never shut up about it. Of last years 110 SPFBO books my range of scores was 4.8 – 9.1 with a huge portion of them falling into the 7’s.
I’m a sucker for non-human povs, older povs, tons of magic, originality and faster-paced books. My favorite subgenres are comedy, military/flintlock, epic, litrpg, and urban. I’m willing to give the vast majority of subgenres a go, but there are a few that I just don’t jive with – romance, new weird, and Victorian. I won’t be taking any of these subgenres in my initial 9.
I will be reading other blogs semi-finalists, but I won’t be rating or reviewing them until the contest is over. Last year I asked porno if he was reading some of the semifinalists that didn’t make it into the finals, and he said he didn’t want to rate or review those in case it looks like he was stepping on toes. I would never want a review of mine to be misinterpreted as some kind of statement – so I’ll be holding these reviews back for a while.
However, there are a number of authors who have already asked me on a personal level to read and review their books, they’re already on my schedule, and they’re also entering into SPFBO 4. I will be leaving reviews for these, and please be understanding that this isn’t meant to be anything other than my own opinion on a book that I was already committed to reading.
Super excited to be a part of SPFBO 4!! Thanks to Mark for hosting this again, and to all the authors for their submissions! SPFBO is a pretty awesome contest that highlights a lot of great books.