Some of the most striking science fiction and fantasy novels of the past decade—we’re thinking of books like Andy Weir’s The Martian, Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations series, and 2018 standout debut Senlin Ascends, by Josiah Bancroft—began life as self-published works, garnering praise from readers and eventually attracting the attention of major publishers.
And since 2015, a few of those self-publishing Cinderella stories—Josiah Bancroft’s among them—have come out of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, an annual contest organized by bestselling fantasy author Mark Lawrence. Books vying for the top prize are sent to prominent fantasy bloggers for review, and the winner is the book with the highest average review score.
Senlin Ascends, the first of the Books of Babel, wasn’t an SPFBO finalist in 2016, but all the attention (as well as the book’s excellence and originality) nevertheless garnered Bancroft a publishing deal for his entire series with Orbit. That year’s winning book, Jonathan French’s The Gray Bastards, was picked up by Crown Publishing, and likewise rereleased earlier this year, to no shortage of acclaim.
Rob J. Hayes won the 2017 SPFBO for his book Where Loyalties Lie, a grimdark pirate fantasy that earned the second-highest composite review score in the contest’s history, which encompasses more than 1,000 books. Lawrence has called him “one of self-publishing’s rising stars,” and we wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the next SPFBO author to sign with a major publisher.
That’s all to explain why today, we’re pleased to debut the cover of Hayes’ next book, the standalone epic fantasy Never Die, set in a world of vengeful gods and resurrected heroes.
Featuring art by video game artist Felix Ortiz and design by Shawn T. King (who has previously worked with authors like Bradley P. Beaulieu and Michael Fletcher), the cover was created with the idea that the once-again self-published work would stand proudly beside titles from major publishers. We tend to think it will. How about you?
Check out the cover below the summary. Never Die releases in January 2019.
Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.
Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.
Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war.