UFO – Unidentified Funny Objects



SUBMISSIONS FOR UFO3 ARE NOW CLOSED. We will begin reading for UFO4 on April 1, 2015.

image descriptionUnidentified Funny Objects is an annual anthology of humorous SF/F. UFO4 Headliners include George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Esther Friesner, Piers Anthony, Mike Resnick, Karen Haber, Gini Koch, Tim Pratt, Jody Lynn Nye.

For UFO4 we’re specifically seeking dark humor.

SUBMISSION WINDOW: April 1 – April 30, 2015

LENGTH: 500-5000 words.




PAYMENT: $0.07 per word + contributor copy. Payment will be made upon acceptance. Our preferred method of payment is via PayPal, but you may request image descriptiona check.

FORMAT: RTF or DOC. Standard Manuscript Format or something close to it (We won’t take points off if you prefer Courier to Times New Roman or some such), except please remove your name and any other identifying information from the manuscript as all submissions are read “blind”.

SEND TO: E-mail submissions as an attachment to: ufoeditors @ gmail dot com

Format the subject line as follows: Submission: <Story Title> by <Author> (Approx. Length)

Example: Submission: You Bet by Alex Shvartsman (2000 words)




RIGHTS SOUGHT: First Worldwide print and electronic English Language rights. Exclusivity for 90 days from date of release. Non-exclusive rights to keep the anthology in print across different publishing platforms afterward. Preview sample contract.

POLICIES & RESPONSE TIME: No reprints, multiple or simultaneous submissions please. Do not send us any story we already considered for a previous UFO volume. We will respond to all subs within 30 days. If you don’t hear by then please check your spam folder, then query at the same e-mail address with the word QUERY in the subject of the e-mail. Please send only one submission per author.





We’re looking for speculative stories with a strong humor element. Think Resnick and Sheckley, Fredric Brown and Douglas Adams. We welcome quality flash fiction and non-traditional narratives. Take chances, try something new, just make sure that your story is funny.

Puns and stories that are little more than vehicles for delivering a punch line at the end aren’t likely to win us over.




Unlike the previous volumes, UFO4 will feature the theme of “Humor with a touch of darkness.” This time around we’re seeking stories that are darkly funny rather than light and fluffy. Think along the lines of the more humorous tales by Neil Gaiman or Chuck Palahniuk, and some of the darker stories by Robert Sheckley or Fredric Brown. Sarcasm, black humor, biting satire are all welcome, but I’d like to steer clear of outright horror, even if it has a few humorous lines thrown in. Funny first, dark second.

We’re open to a relatively wide interpretation of dark humor, but each story must combine elements of humor with touches of darkness. Here are some examples of the kind of stories that fit the bill:

“We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman
“The Monkey Treatment” by George R.R. Martin”Elections at Villa Encantada” by Cat Rambo (UFO3)
“Why I Bought Satan Two Cokes on the Day I Graduated High School” by Nathaniel Lee (UFO3)
“How You Ruined Everything” by Konstantine Paradias (UFO2)
The Alien Invasion As Seen in the Tweeter Stream of @Dweebless” by Jake Kerr (UFO1)
Wikihistory” by Desmond Warzel

The best way to learn what we like in general is to read a previous volume volume. You can buy it here and also read the online stories for free.


These are the tropes we see entirely too much of in the slush pile and/or subjects already covered by one of the headliners. You will improve your odds if you steer clear of these:

* Zombies
* Vampires
* Deals with the Devil / Djinn in a bottle variants
* Stereotypical aliens probing people, abducting cattle, and doing other stereotypical alien things.


See the UFO Publishing About Us page

OUR PROCESS: Each submission will be read and considered by 3 editors. They will read blind — they won’t have access to author names or publishing history. Any story with 2+ “yes” votes will be advanced to the second round, where all editors will read it. Stories that are well-received by the full editorial board will advance to the third and final round of consideration. At that point we’ll ask to hold your story until mid- to late May, when final decisions will be made.

We are writers ourselves and understand the value of prompt communication. You will be notified of each step, if and when your story advances.


I have two 6100-word horror stories that were previously printed and are now on submission at several magazines. Can I send them to you, simultaneously?

Please don’t. We have carefully considered what we’re looking for and expressed it above. If you strongly feel the need to break one of the guidelines, query first and provide a good reason.

My story was previously published in an obscure college anthology in 1996, which sold 16 copies. Can I submit it?

Sorry, but we won’t consider unsolicited reprints, no matter how obscure.

I may have accidentally begun my manuscript three double spaces below the byline instead of two. Am I getting auto-rejected?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. We’ll reformat your submission to fit our needs. You’re even welcome to send your story handwritten in pink crayon on glitter-sprinkled construction paper, but we will take that into consideration when deciding whether to purchase it, and whether to file for a restraining order.

I plan on winning multiple awards for my UFO story. Will your exclusivity rights prevent me from being included in the Nebula Showcase?

Congratulations on all your future success. We will gladly make exceptions for “Best Of” anthologies.

An anthology of humor SF/F is the greatest idea since sliced bread. What can I do to help?

Spread the word. Support our Kickstarter campaign. Pick up copies of previous UFO volumes. If you want to invite our authors/editors to a con you’re organizing, sell paperback copies of UFO at your store, bake us cookies, or help in any other way, we’d love to hear from you.

UFO guidelines are proudly listed at Ralan.com

UFO guidelines are proudly listed at Ralan.com

Please report your submission stats at The Grinder.

Please report your submission stats at The Grinder.

44 Responses to UFO – Unidentified Funny Objects

  1. […] UFO Publishing is soliciting short story submissions for “Unidentified Funny Objects” — An Anthology of Humorous Science Fiction & Fantasy. […]

  2. Doug Donnan says:

    Do (will) you accept multiple submissions?


    • Alex Shvartsman says:


      One submission at a time please. If your story is rejected you may submit another at that point.


      • Doug Donnan says:

        Okay Alex,

        Thanks so much. I guess if I would have read the policies
        more closely I would have seen that you clearly state that!
        (Okay…I’m a dummy!)

        Anyway, I got a funny little Sci-Fi story in my draft folder
        (Titled: ‘The Collector’s Item’) I’m just waitin’ for the window
        to open on July 1 so I can zap it to you guys!

        I hope you like it!

        Thanks so much.

        postscript: If the window somehow opens up earlier
        please let me know, and I’ll send it now!

  3. […] Cool Anthology idea here, #ICYMI: Unidentified Funny Objects anthology. […]

  4. […] If you write funny science fiction or fantasy, UFO Publishing wants to see your work. Unidentified Funny Objects has plans to publish an anthology of funny science fiction and fantasy stories. Editor Alex Shvartsman is looking for stories 500 to 4,000 words and will pay 5 cents a word. His reading period is July 1 through August 31, so don’t sent your story before then. Get the scoop here. […]

  5. Miss Edee says:


    I’m looking forward to submitting a short story once you open to submissions. Is there information you would like included in the body of the email?

    Thank you,

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Dear Edee,

      You’re welcome to include a brief letter listing your publication credits or other humor-related accolades, but this is not a requirement. We’re very easy-going about cover letters.


      • Miss Edee says:

        Wow – thanks so much for such a quick response! Since by “accolades” I’m pretty sure you don’t mean blog commenters who think some of my sillier essays are funny, my submission email will be fairly brief. Again, thanks, and I look forward to your feedback.

  6. Wenda (sic) says:

    I don’t know if I can produce something for your anthology since your genre would be a new one for me, but I still want to tell you your submission page is terrific. Covers all the bases with a style that seems to convey what you want and what you’d be like to work with. Not easy. Congratulations.

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Thanks very much, Wenda. As a writer who sends out a lot of short fiction submissions, I wanted to make everything as easy and convenient for the potential contributors. From clear guidelines to relaxed formatting requirements to fast response times — basically all the things I’d like to see at other markets.

  7. […] UFO: Unidentified Funny Objects – August 31 […]

  8. […] Landing” went to the UFO anthology of humorous […]

  9. […] out more on UFO here.  I hope to see your stories in the slush… not that I’ll know it was you. Rate […]

  10. […] Science Fiction, and Nature among other venues. He is an Associate Editor for the anthology “UFO: Unidentified Funny Objects.” Michael is also the author of ‘Write Every Day – Hints and Tips towards a Daily […]

  11. Winnie says:

    If the overall message is sad but the story (dialogue, etc) is funny, is that bad?

    Thank you for offering this opportunity!

  12. Winnie says:

    The story I am writing is funny (in dialogue, descriptions, etc) but the overall message is depressing. Is that really bad for my chances? T_T

    Thank you for offering this opportunity!

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Hi Winnie,

      Dark/depressing stories would be a *very* hard sell at UFO. The overall tone and message of the book is that of fun and optimism. I haven’t bought any dark humor yet, and don’t expect to pick up much of it at all, unless it overwhelmingly wins me over.

  13. Bill Kowaleski says:

    I’ve got a very funny story but it was published on a webzine already. They don’t get many unique views and the rights revert back to the author immediately after publication (i.e. I wasn’t paid anything). Would you consider such a story?

    • Alex Shvartsman says:


      Thank you for your interest, but we would not consider such a submission. I’m having a very hard time trying to fit on all the great stories that are previously unpublished. If this book is successful however, UFO Publishing will print other anthologies in the future, some of which will accept reprint submissions.

  14. Is the final list out yet?

  15. Gregg Chamberlain says:

    very cool a volume two to come out.

  16. If I’m reading this correctly, you want first world wide print and electronic. So does that mean I can submit something that has been published as audio (on drabblecast)?


    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Dear Jameel,

      Although we’re not buying audio rights we will only consider submissions that haven’t been previously published in any format.

  17. Jason L says:

    Alex – are you opening this up at 12:00 am 5/1/13? :)

  18. A Heretofore Unknown Author says:

    Any chance of a deadline extension? I’ve got a story out for sub that I don’t think will come back in time for May 31st, but neither do I expect it to sell (in part because it’s a sci-fi comedy.) I refuse — tempting as it may be — to commit the sin of simultaneous submission, on the lightning strike of a chance that someone else may pick it up. But really, the story is so funny it will make you crap your pants. Hoping against hope that the window is a little flexible!

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Sorry, but no. Even the invited authors must get their stories in by the deadline. We have a tight schedule and will need to make all final decisions shortly after the submissions deadline has passed. The good news is that we fully intend on releasing the anthology annually, so you can try us next year if the story doesn’t come back to you in time, and is still available in 2014.

  19. […] May 2013 — Unidentified Funny Objects 2 — ed. Alex Shvartzman; UFO […]

  20. linuxjim says:

    I have a story I think would fit … BUT … I have this vague memory I submitted to one of your previous UFO anthologies (and got rejected), only I can’t find it in my records. Were you previously using a different publisher name? I want to check this, as it would make no sense to send something you already rejected.

  21. Michael says:

    Dang – I have two stories that would be a perfect fit, but they have both been published in Danish last year.

    That means they are out, right?

  22. Bev. says:

    Would you be interested in a humorous ghost or paranormal story? There is not need to send it if this genre is not your cup of tea. (I agree with Wenda, your submission page is good one.)

  23. […] March 2014 — Unidentified Funny Objects 3 — ed. Alex […]

  24. CMT says:

    This might be a stupid question, but do you have any kind of auto-reply to submissions? (Just trying to understand whether the story I sent actually went through and I only have to wait for the rejection or it got lost somewhere and I actually have to wait for next year to retry)

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      We don’t send an auto-reply, but we do respond to everyone very quickly. I’m about to send out all first round rejections and round 2 bumps today, so if you haven’t heard anything in the next 24 hours, please query.

  25. […] for even more places to send your laugh-out-loud fantasy tale? Try Unidentified Funny Objects (you’ll have to keep an eye on their website to see when they’re opening up […]

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