For those who don’t follow indie publishing, SPFBO stands for Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, a yearly competition created by fantasy author, Mark Lawrence. The contest begins with 300 self-published fantasy books (one submission per author, all standalone books or first in a series), which are then allotted across ten judges or judging teams and gradually whittled down to ten finalists and finally one winner. (Read more about the competition here).

I entered The Sword of Kaigen in this year’s SPFBO on the recommendation of other authors and bloggers who thought it would do well. Not knowing much about the competition, I didn’t enter with an abundance of confidence. Well, it turns out, as usual, other people understand more about books than I do.

In October, SPFBO judge Kitty G gave The Sword of Kaigen an amazingly positive review (which you can watch on Youtube or read on Goodreads) making it a semi-finalist in her group, alongside Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn, Moon Deeds by Palmer Pickering, and Chasing Graves by Ben Galley.

SPFBO semi-finalist book covers (Moon Deeds by Palmer Pickering, Seraphina's Lament by Sarah Chorn, Chasing Graves by Ben Galley)

That alone was pretty exciting, considering I had only heard positive things about the other three entries. But then…


Yesterday morning, Kitty G released a video announcing The Sword of Kaigen as her finalist! (I recommend you watch it, even if you’ve already read The Sword of Kaigen, as she explains what she liked about the other semi-finalists and you might find a new favorite).

I was light-headed for most of yesterday and I’m frankly still in a bit of shock. The Sword of Kaigen was a punishingly difficult book to write and, perhaps because of my own negative experience with it, I didn’t publish it expecting readers to like itlet alone love it as some have. It’s a long shot to think that my first attempt at an adult fantasy will beat out the other nine finalists (some of which have to get past several judges instead of just one) but if you’d like to see it try, you can follow the finalist scoreboard here.

SPFBO 5 Finals Book Covers (Beggar's Rebellion by Levi Jacobs, Kalanon's Rising by Darian Smith, A Sea of Broken Glass by Sonya M. Black, The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang)

So far, the finalists other than my own Japanese-inspired military fantasy include Sanderson-esque epic fantasy, Beggar’s Rebellion by Levi Jacobs, murder mystery fantasy, Kalanon’s Rising by Darian Smith, and steampunk fantasy, A Sea of Broken Glass by Sonya M. Black. The board will fill out with six more finalists in the coming days before the judges set about scoring the ten.

Assuming that anyone actually sees this post, I want to thank Mark Lawrence for hosting the competition and all the reviewers for volunteering their time to judge the entries (not just Kitty G but The Fantasy Hive, Fantasy Book Critic, Lynn’s Books, Fantasy Faction, SuperStar Drifter, Booknest, The Qwillery, Thoughts Stained with Ink, and Rockstarlit Book Asylum). Regardless of how my own book does, the competition is an amazing way for people to discover new books and I’m excited to see where it goes next!

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  1. I haven’t read The Sword of Kaigan yet (it’s high on my to-read list), but if it’s anywhere close to as good as Planet Adyn, you should not be a long shot to be the SPFBO winner. Good luck!

    1. Aaahhh, thank you so much! SOK is pretty different from Planet Adyn in that it’s longer, sadder, and targeted toward an older audience, but I hope you’re right!

  2. SOK was an exceptional read, it got stuck in my head and sat there for several weeks after I finished it. Hopefully it gets the recognition it deserves. Eagerly anticipating your next work!

    1. Thank you so much! Honestly, this is more recognition than I ever expected SOK to get, so I’m just excited to see how the finals go.

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