Last year, the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off was a huge success! So many great books, so much great experience, and so much attention being given to some underappreciated novels that, let’s face it, many of us wouldn’t have even known existed, let alone how good they were.
So it’s no surprise that a second round was declared, and I’m back in the mix for another year, folks!
This year, we all have 30 books to look at, which is a larger batch than last year. But I think we’re all up to the challenge, and I can’t wait to get started.
Every blogger has their individual way to handle the books they’ve been given, and there is no wrong or right way so long as we eventually name a winner to pass on to the finalist round (and review said book), and then give scores to each of the finalists. Plus reviewing the overall winner, the book with the highest cumulative score. Last year, some of us openly read and gave reviews to every single book, others stayed relatively quiet until they picked a finalist from their batch. Either option is fine and dandy.
But just so you all know what’s coming from me, here’s now I’m going about things this year.
First of all, the rest of this week is going to be devoted to a series of First Impressions posts, in which I talk about my first impressions of each of the books I have in my batch. What I say won’t reflect on any of the actual story contained within the books, because I haven’t read them yet. I’m just going to say what I think of the title, the cover art, and the blurb. Some of these things will be positive, others negative, but I do this mostly to shine some attention on each of the books, whether or not I ever talk about them again. First impressions can mean a lot. They can attract a potential reader or repel them. They might give potential readers the idea that a book belongs to a particular genre when it actually doesn’t. So I figure it’s worth the time to take a look and see what my initial reactions are, based on nothing more than superficial appearance, only the info I’d see if I came across it while browning Amazon.
But ultimately, my first impression won’t matter, because I’ll be giving all the books a chance.
I won’t be reading all books from beginning to end. I won’t be giving all of them reviews. What I will be doing is, as Mark Lawrence said, putting on my pseudo-agent hat, not my reviewer hat. Those are two very different hats.
I’ll give each book a 3-chapter chance. If I don’t find anything in the first 3 chapters that convinces me it might be worth it to continue on, then I’ll put that book aside and go no further with it. This isn’t always an indicator of quality. Sometimes it’s just an indicator of a book not being to my taste. I’m not a big fan of romance-heavy plots, for instance, so if a particular novel is really big on romance, chances are I’m not going to enjoy it that much, even if other people might. It just wasn’t a good fit.
The remaining books I’ll take a closer look at. I may not read through them all, but I’m much more likely to. The books that pass the 3-chapter chance are books I see the potential to enjoy. It doesn’t mean I will enjoy them. But I’ll give them the chance to hook me in deeper. For this, I usually give to the 50% mark.
Anything I read in full will get a review from me. This may only end up being the book I pass through as a finalist, or it may end up being 10 books. It’s impossible to say at this point, not having read anything yet.
So that’s how it’ll all go down. I probably won’t say too much about the books that don’t pass the 3-chapter chance. I’ll probably make the occasional post about things I encounter over the course of the challenge. I’ll probably invite some of the novelists to write a guest post or two, especially if I read their book in full.
I’ll read and review all of the finalist novels, too, just as I did last year. Maybe I’ll be able to convince a few of the finalists to drop by with some guest posts too.
So with that in mind, let the games begin!