Award Contests for Self-Published Fantasy Authors

Award contests are a great way to gain credibility and exposure for indie authors. There are tons of contests out there, and it's difficult to know which ones to enter. Contests based on readers voting are exciting and usually involve a lot of effort campaigning for votes. They are sometimes seen as popularity contests and therefore can be less credible. Here are three contests with awards selected by judges, which have great exposure and are affordable.

Readers Favorite
(by April 1, 2018 for Early Bird fee $89)
This annual contest has over a hundred genre categories and is open to traditional and self-published authors. Each genre category is judged separately, with five different award levels: gold, silver, bronze, honorable mention, and award finalist. Readers Favorite is a well-established review site with hundreds of thousands of contacts and millions of followers.     

Drunken Druid Book of the Year (by Feb 28, 2018 for 2017 awards, entry fee $25)
This contest is much more affordable than Readers Favorite, and has a decent amount of exposure. It's open to any fiction work published during the year, including collections of short stories and poems, with a minimum length of 30,000 words. The winner is featured on Drunken Druid websites and social media accounts throughout the year. Books are reviewed by a selection committee, and a short list is published ten days before the winner is announced. 

SPFBO (submission date varies, no entry fee)
The Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) is revolutionizing views on self-published books. This contest is in its third year and keeps drawing more attention. Only self-published fantasy works are eligible to enter, although they can be published in previous years. The contest accepts 300 books. Ten respected fantasy bloggers are assigned 30 books each, and then choose a finalist from their batch. The finalists are scored by all ten blogs, and the scores compared for determining the final rankings. The current contest is in the finals stage, and you can follow its progress here. The 2018-19 contest will likely begin taking submissions sometime after this year's finalists have all been scored. Follow Mark Lawrence to watch for the next announcement of open submissions, usually in late spring. The contest is limited to 300 entries and can fill up in a few days. Successful entries lead to great exposure within the fantasy community and opportunities to network with other entrants.
Follow Mark Lawrence on Twitter

I recommend entering all three of these contests, and best of luck to you! If you have any to add to this list, please let me know.

Interview with Author Frank Dorrian

I recently had the pleasure of reading Dorrian's The Shadow of the High King. It spurred me to add a recurring feature to this blog: author interviews. Thanks to Frank Dorrian for being a willing subject. Bonus: his books are on sale right now for 99¢, so it's a perfect time to try them out!

What inspired your world building process?

That would be my own travels around the UK, America, Thailand and Europe, and my endless wanderlust. I think of it less as a properly defined process, and more as myself discovering the world beside my characters as they wander too and fro being arseholes. I like to see what happens when they, and I, get to wherever they’re going.

Who are you writing for and why?

Myself, exclusively. I wouldn’t be as interested or creative in what I was writing if I was doing it for any other reason other than to create something I have envisioned. I’d feel dishonest. Art is never about people-pleasing, or at least it should never be – it’s a path to soulless, miserable work.

What do you do to recharge your creative energy?

Reading and gaming mostly these days. I like keeping fit, and still keep up with muay thai, though I’m not as active in the circles as I once was, it’ll always be a love of mine.

Travel is another big love – I got to walk alone around Tyresta By national park in Sweden this year, across the ruins of ancient mountains shattered by earthquakes and through primeval Scandinavian forests filled with boars, bears and wolves. Almost managed to get lost, too, actually and absolutely shat my pants when I realized it was going dark, but it’s a definitely one of my best memories.

Also coffee.

What reactions do you hope to inspire in others?

Reactions? I think that would be down to the reader to decide how they would react to the things my characters do in their world. I’d hope to have them merely understand, if possible, why they are the way they are, more than anything, or at least the things that they do. Whether they inspire hate, sorrow, laughter, pity, confusion or repulsion, well, that’s down to the individual.

Where is your writing taking you?

Right now I’m not too sure, but I’m enjoying the journey regardless, what lies at the end remains to be seen, but I’m definitely meeting some interesting individuals along the way.

Follow Frank Dorrian online:

Review: Agent G Infiltrator by C.T. Phipps

“Black Technology has made murder a billion dollar industry.”

The International Refugee Society has twenty-six cybernetically enhanced “Letters,” and for the right price, they’ll eliminate anyone. They’ve given up their families and their memories for ten years of service with the promise of a life of luxury awaiting them.

Agent G is one of these “Letters,” but clues to his past are starting to emerge while he’s on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the Society’s most dangerous competitor. In the midst of all the violence, subterfuge, and deceit, he’ll need to keep his wits about him and trust sparingly.

After all if an organization will kill for money, what would they do to keep the truth hidden? 

4 of 5 stars

Welcome to the future! Except it's not the future, it's now. Except the technology is so dangerous, the public doesn't know it exists. Download data files into your brain implant. Transplant human identities into super robots. Facial reconstruction is digitally enhanced with no healing time needed. For Agent G, it's all part of a typical day on the job.

Phipps does a great job of keeping the mood lighthearted. Even though the main character is a scientifically enhanced assassin, he is still relatable. The "Letters" agents have their memories swiped before entering 10 years of service, after which, they'll be reinstated to their former lives and their memories returned. Agent G seems to have a few straggling memories, though. The promise of finding out his true past is constantly driving him to fulfill his contracts. His emotional detachment from the nature of his job brings in some irony and dark humor, and occasional moments of poetic clarity.

G has to think quickly and constantly reevaluate his situation as he works through an assignment that might bring him to the truth of his past. The plot grows satisfyingly more intricate as he pushes deeper into his enemy's lair. He finds out emotions can be detrimental to a hired assassin's work. It becomes impossible to know whose motives he can depend on, whether he'll end up betrayed and imprisoned, or worse, deemed non-essential by his employers.

This story is told through a single point of view, in first-person past tense. It's a fun, quick read. I felt like it ended a little abruptly, but it is the first book of a series and I'm interested to see where this is going. It's entertaining and well worth checking out. If this sounds like it's right up your alley, there's a lot here to look forward to.

You can find it here on Amazon or here on Goodreads.