This was a panel at Archon, as you may recall. I would not do a panel like this again, personally. I’d add something to it. “Great self-published SFF authors and how you can discover them.” Or maybe “Favorite self-published SFF authors and what they do best.” Or “Successful self-published SFF authors and their strategies,” which of course puts an entirely different emphasis on the topic.
Nevertheless, this was a panel about the best self-published SFF authors. Of course I get all my recommendations through you all here, which is extremely handy. But considering that there are nigh unto infinite SFF authors tossing books into the vast ocean of self-publishing these days, wow, wading into that ocean, where do you even start?
Thus, I’ve collected some of the authors and titles mentioned in that panel. This is by no means a complete list because I’m not that great at taking notes and I’m specifically terrible at spelling by ear. If someone starts to spell a name, I’m probably going to write it down wrong, and if I can’t figure out who that is, well, sorry, that’s how it goes. But Jan Gephardt, also on that panel, kindly sent me her full list, which is a great help. I’d be particularly curious to know if any of you have heard of any of the new-to-me names.
Now, I’m going to start by mentioning a couple of names we will all recognize:
1) Andrea K Höst. Of course.
Hands down my favorite self-published-only author. It’s not even close. No doubt you all knew that already, what with Andrea K Host Week here a few years ago. Huh, maybe more than a few years. Wow, how time flies. If you weren’t here for AKH week, click through and read the posts. And recall that AKH is also writing, contemporary romance, more or less … under the name … what is it again … oh, right: Karan K Anders. She’s working on the sequel to that one now and I personally really hope it comes out this year. I wish she would just quit whatever else she’s got going on in her life, become a hermit, and write a lot of books really fast. Oddly, my favorite authors seldom seem inclined to do that. For anyone new to AKH, I have to suggest The Touchstone Trilogy. I don’t think it’s her best — that may be The Pyramids of London for fantasy and of course And All The Stars for SF. But Touchstone is the one I’ve read a million times and listened to twice.
2) Nathan Lowell. I think he’s an obvious choice. He’s been writing for a while, his books were good to start with, and some of his later ones are truly excellent and lots of fun, especially The Wizard’s Butler if you happen to want a low-stress fantasy novel. And these years, who doesn’t? Here’s my review.
3) Lindsay Buroker. Another obvious choice. She’s been around for a while, she’s still going, and she’s good. Her plotting is not always entirely believable, but her dialogue is snappy and delightful. I found her via The Emperor’s Edge series, which I have read several times. Here’s my initial review of the first book.
Everyone at the panel, I think, had heard of Nathan Lowell and Lindsay Buroker. After that, I don’t think we had any names where we overlapped. I’ll do mine first, then Jan’s, then one or two that came from someone else.
5) Alice Degan / AJ Demas, also obviously. From All False Doctrine was published under the first of those names, and as you may recall, this and Goddard’s book were my two favorite novels that I read that year. Here’s my review of From All False Doctrine. Under the name AJ Demas, she’s writing those delightful historicals set in an alternate Greece, such as One Night in Boukos. Here’s my review of that one.
6) JM Ney-Grimm, who as you may know, I’m just starting to read, but I’ve liked the one and a quarter books of hers that I’ve read so far. The one is of course The Tally Master, and here is my review of that one.
7) Alma Boykin, whom one of you mentioned for this topic and who I now want to try on the strength of your description. “Sort of rerunning the late medieval history of Central Europe” and so on, which sounded interesting. Here’s one: Merchant and Magic.
Tycho Rhonarida Galnaar trades hides—hides tanned, hides untanned, with and without fleeces, nothing risky. He prefers steady, low-key trade, a quiet home life, and reliable business partners. … [But] Tycho’s secret—his absolute inability to work or even see magic in a world that depends on it—may be the key to solving a mystery, and saving a city. I haven’t read it, but reviews look good.
8) MCA Hogarth, who I hadn’t realized was self-publishing, but turns out she is! I liked her Mindtouch series quite a bit. A nice, quiet series.
10) Mikki Samak / Michaela Ro — writing Light in Dark Places under the first name and The Magpie Chronicles under the second. I haven’t read anything by her, but since someone here suggested her, I’m certainly interested. Let’s pause and take a look at each:
Joan Kaas wakes up seven years after Misery took her. No one can explain why. No one has ever woken up from Misery before. She learns that while she slept, her older sister Seung-ri overthrew a corrupt regime and is now a King, possessing a rare Prodigy-Class Ash talent, all to protect Joan while she slept. Joan doesn’t know why she woke up, why she knows things she never learned before Misery took her, what her Ash talent is, or whether or not she’s her sister’s happy ending or her sister’s tragedy. But she knows Seung-ri has a lot of enemies.
The Red Dragon has been betrayed. Akaryu Masaomi is rightfully one of six rulers of the celestial world’s elaborate and repressive administration, and has taken his powers and privileges for granted all his life, but he has been framed for treason, stripped of his lands, and thrown in prison. Now, trapped in human form and without allies, all he can do is wait for his execution in the most secure prison in the land of Tenou.
Oh, look, a prison break! You know, I’ve always liked that particular trope.
11) Ankaret Wells, whom I also haven’t read anything by. One of you mentioned The Maker’s Mask. Here’s a snippet of description:
Tzenni Boccamera wasn’t a soldier or a diplomat. She was an engineer. But when Tzenni’s sister Catha was captured by soldiers from a rival Spire, there was no one else to go to Catha’s rescue. Tzenni didn’t expect the rescue to involve a sarcastic bodyguard, a plot to bring down the Spire, or an alien species. And she certainly hadn’t meant to fall in love…
I’ll be darned, look at that, that’s another trope I particularly like! Bodyguards! Okay, is Tzenni REALLY an engineer? Does that impact the story? Does she have engineering knowledge she puts to use? Because if so, I’m particularly likely to pick this one up.
12) Skyla Dawn Cameron, another author I don’t know. Looks like she has several series out. I’ll pick one at random … okay: Solomon’s Seal. Here’s part of the description:
Just as her daughter’s private school tuition cheque bounces, Livi gets an offer that could be the break she needs to return to some semblance of her former life. A powerful man wants her to travel to Ethiopia and retrieve the Seal of Solomon—a mythical ring said to control demons and djinn—and this bounty comes with one hell of a financial pay off. … The deadline: a week. The team: unreliable. The competition: her world-renowned archaeologist older brother. Nothing Livi can’t handle… Except the danger goes beyond a few subterranean serpent-dragons she might encounter or tangling with her employer’s deadly second-in-command. This client isn’t all he seems, and handing him the ring might be worse than what he’ll do to her—and her daughter—if she doesn’t.
This does sound promising!
That’s twelve, which is a nice round number, but I have one more I should have thought of much earlier:
13) Gillian Bradshaw, who of course is well known for traditionally published historicals, but her self-published fantasy that starts with Magic’s Poison is really good and also SUPER INTERESTING because of how she divided the protagonist / pov roles. Here’s my review of this series.
Okay! That’s from my list. Now I’m moving to Jan Gephardt’s list:
14) Jennifer Foehner Wells, with her Confluence Series that begins with Fluency
Here’s part of the description:
Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it’s an adventure she can’t refuse.
The target is a drifting, derelict alien ship that, whoops!, is not as derelict as all that.
15) M. D. Cooper, who also writes space opera, it seems — here’s the first book of her Aeon 14 trilogy.
I’m done with Sol. The system is rotting, and I want out. The Terran Space Force has tried to hold onto me, but even they can’t deny the people behind the largest colony ship ever made. The GSS Intrepid can house millions of colonists, and its leaders have selected me as one of them. I finally have a way out of Sol. Except…there’s a catch.
16) AK DuBoff, who once again writes space opera! I’m sensing a theme to these recommendations. That’s great, as mine were very fantasy-heavy. This list expands recommendations to more thoroughly cover SF as well as F. Here’s the first book of her Taran Empire series, Empire Reborn.
With the future of the Empire hanging in the balance, Jason must find a way to unite the Taran worlds, including the lost colony of Earth, against the mounting threat. There’s just one problem: how do you fight an enemy you can’t see or touch?
17) Cheree Alsop, with — yes — another space opera: her Girl from the Stars series.
Life had never been easy for Liora Day – a half-human, half “mess-with-her-and-you’ll-die” Damaclan. She had been thrown onto a rough path at a very early age, and she didn’t get along with others. That all changes when she is broken out of a cage by Devren, a young captain of the SS Kratos. He shows her that not all humans are heartless.
And Jan notes that all those authors and titles are discussed more extensively at her blog post on Indie Women of SFF, which you can read here. I’ve pulled some description from that post, but click through to read the whole thing.
One more, and this time I don’t recall who mentioned this name:
18) Celia Lake, who’s written, looks like historical fantasy, the Charms of Albion duology.
Alysoun wants more than duty. Born into the aristocratic circles of Albion’s upper class, Alysoun has done everything expected of her. She has married well, produced two healthy children, and handled her social obligations with grace. It’s not enough. Her husband is kind but distant, and she lives with ongoing mysterious pain. Worst of all, she is frankly bored. When Alysoun spots something odd in a stained glass exhibition at the museum, she seizes the opportunity. Perhaps it will finally give them something to talk about.
Richard lives for honour. As a captain of Albion’s Guard, he spends his days solving problems. As Lord of the land, he makes sure his estates in England are thriving. It leaves little time for anything else, even his wife or children. He’s sure they understand. He was brought up the same way.
That’s eighteen! Whew! I’m sure I could come up with another eighteen, but on the other hand, I’m sure a lot of you could too! So
19) Your Choice Here
20) Your Other Choice Here
Who are a couple more self-published authors you’d like to add to this list?