UFO2 Kickstarter is live

April 2, 2013

Unidentified Funny Objects 2 is coming to the bookshelf near you this September!

I already have stories from Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick and Ken Liu. In addition, Esther Friesner, Jody Lynn Nye, and Tim Pratt agreed to contribute stories to this volume. And we hope to announce several more headliners this month.

Meanwhile, I can really use everyone’s help. Funding a quality anthology is *expensive*. It cost about $15,000 to create and print the original UFO book. I think I can keep these costs down to under $12,000 this time around, but it’s still a lot of money. So I went back to Kickstarter in order to help cover some of these costs. If you enjoyed the first book, or simply think the idea of an annual humor SF/F anthology is a good one and it’s something that should exist in the world, please consider supporting this project on Kickstarter.

Also, please help spread the word. The more money I can raise this month, the more cool stuff I’ll be able to do for this book and for the UFO web site.  I will blog lots more about this project, but for now the text of the Kickstarter campaign should cover most of the basics. Check it out!

Submitomancy Premium Features Explained – A Guest Post by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

January 4, 2013


Ever since Sylvia Spruck Wrigley announced the project she’s spearheading to create an advanced submission tracking web site, the most common question I’ve seen was: “If I’m not willing to pay for Duotrope service, why should I give money to this?”

So I asked Sylvia to explain the premium Submitomancy features in some more detail. Also, it’s very important to note that all basic functions of the site will be available for everyone to use for free.

Sylvia’s post, below:

The core of the Submitomancy service will be free. This allows writers to record their manuscripts and track their submissions. But the really fun stuff, in my opinion, is in the pay-for service.

Here’s an example of the process that a subscriber to the pay-for service might follow. This is all optional, of course! Subscribers will obviously choose the options that they find most useful and although I am focused on short stories for this example, we’ll be supporting poetry as well. Here’s my own personal vision of what I would do having completed a new story.

First I enter my manuscript details. The manuscript database is part of the core service but as a subscriber, I’ll get a secondary page of data that I can track (I’ll be refining down the details of this with the early access users). I’ll also have the option to share the title of my latest masterpiece with my friends. In the future, I might be able to submit it directly to my personal critique partners (who are of course, also using the site and loving it) but for now, let’s assume my story is shiny and perfect.

For a free search, I would get a basic list of markets that I can then read through to make a decision.

But as a subscriber, I get power searches, which have a lot more granularity. My preferences are saved as a part of my profile. For example, a user might set his default to show pro- and semi-pro markets who have sent personal responses in the past, sorted by acceptance rates. My personal default might only show me SFWA qualifying markets, unless there are fewer than three matches, in which case I want to see all matching pro-markets. The point is that, once I’ve set this up, I’ll see the key markets for my manuscript with a single press, with the ability to expand the possibilities at search time. Markets that I have marked as favorites will be highlighted.

Once I have my list, I can re-sort on the fly and click through to look at a market profile.

Everyone can see general market information along with the average response time and average acceptance rate. As a subscriber, I’ll get extra information, including the recent responses and the average response rate for that market over the past 6 weeks. I’ll get a break-down of the acceptance rate with, if we can get the data, percentages by author gender and story word count. This personalised market listing will also show my history with that market: my submissions, response times and type of response. This means if I am an “outlier”, I have my past data on the page for reference. If the market has sent me personal comments in the past and I entered those comments into the system, they will show up for me here.

As a subscriber, I will also see a button on the market page to generate a cover letter. If I press this button, the system takes four pieces of information:

* My manuscript details,
* My most recent three sales (which I can override with my three favorite sales),
* The market details,
* The market guidelines (if cover letters are mentioned).

With this information, the system will create a cover letter for me to use. I can copy the text (and edit it if I like, for example if I am on a first-name basis with the editor) and then paste it into my submission, whether it’s postal, form-based or an email.

Once I’ve done the submission, I can send an update to my friends so that they can cheer me on. Now the waiting begins.

Quite honestly, I spend too much time watching market pages so an important aspect of the pay-for service for me is the notification service. This is a process which watches my submissions for me and maps them against the recent responses. When specific conditions are met, I’ll receive a private message which could also be sent to my email or Twitter account to alert me.

An obvious alert is when a market responds to a manuscript that has been out for the same number of days as my story has been with them. That function alone will seriously help my pointless refreshing problem. But there will be a number of options which I plan to refine with the early access users.

Some examples: I might notice a market has been silent for a month and ask for a notification to show me when a response has been reported. I can see Analog recent responses are a lot longer than they have been traditionally and sign up for an alert when their response rate drops below 60 days. And for every submission, I’d like to be notified if a response is past due so I can consider querying. That query letter can be generated with the manuscript title and date of submission, along with the correct procedure for querying at that market.

Once I get the acceptance (this is my fantasy system, so of course every response is an acceptance), I enter it into my personal database with the pay rate, the exclusivity period and any personal comments. I can update it when I receive the contract, when I receive payment and when the story has been published.

Now I can set up a new notification to alert me when the exclusivity period is finished. I will have a search available to show me reprint markets. This might get a bit complicated: there are so many different rights and contracts vary, so I suspect that for every story, the writer will have to go through the markets and see what works. Eventually, I’d like to be able to search for audio publications and foreign language markets, if I still have those rights available. Certainly, I’d love to be prompted to offer my story to a wider market.

That’s my dream. I can’t guarantee that every aspect of that process will be available at launch but I hope that most of it will be in place. Especially that 100% acceptance rate on my account.

When Submitomancy goes live, the premium service will cost $20 per year, not $50 Duotrope is now charging.
You can donate to the Submitomancy crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo.

Submitomancy Launches a Crowdfunding Campaign

December 30, 2012


Almost exactly a month ago, Duotrope announced that they were becoming a pay site, asking writers to fork over $50 a year or $5 a month to take advantage of their robust web site and an extensive database. Many writers (myself included) felt that it’s perfectly reasonable for a site to charge a fee, but that $50 was way too much money to pay for the privilege of feeding your own data into a Wiki-style service.

Most of the writers I know agreed that $20 was the sweet spot of what such a service would be worth to them, and many posited that someone will come along and launch an alternative to Duotrope very soon. That someone turned out to be Syliva Spruck Wrigley, a speculative writer and an online marketing professional.

I expected some webhead to cobble together a very basic online database, capable of tracking subs and performing basic analysis. Sylvia’s vision is far grander. She wants to create a sophisticated, slick site with lots of social media features, a detailed market database, and varying levels of membership. In short, it would be Duotrope 2.0. Advance feature membership would cost about $20 per year but, best of all, basic features would be free.

The project, titled Submitomancy, is currently seeking 5,500 British Pounds (or around $8800) in funding.  The money will be used to pay programmers and developers, and cool additional features can be unlocked via stretch goals.

So yeah, that $20 I was going to donate to Duotrope this year? Sumbitomancy can have it instead. Please consider buying your annual membership in advance in order to help them get off the ground sooner!


Kickstarter Update #4 – Unidentified Funny Objects

August 29, 2012


Remember my last blog post? It was all about how the UFO Kickstarter was a little bit behind its curve, and how we were still $1000 short of our funding goal? That was yesterday.

Today, we are fully funded. We broke $5000, then broke $5100 and on our way up, up, up.  I’m thrilled and thankful to nearly 200 people who believed in the project enough to support it at this early stage. I still can’t believe we managed to raise over $1000 in less than 36 hours.

I’m planning on spending some of the money to do Really Cool Things ™ that will benefit both our Kickstarter supporters and the SF/F community in general. These Really Cool Things ™ will most certainly include publishing some fiction on the UFO web site, for the whole world to read for free. What better way to give back to the community than that?

There are other Really Cool Things I can think of as well. It all depends on how much money we end up raising, in the end. Do expect me to aggressively look for ways to reward our Kickstarter supporters with all kinds of additional content beyond what was promised. So please, continue to spread the word and encourage anyone who is interested in humorous SF/F to explore this anthology and add their pledge on Kickstarter in the next few days.

And while on the subject of Kickstarter, I’d like to mention that Smoke & Mirrors podcast just launched their own campaign. Dennis Miller, the host of Smoke & Mirrors is also the voice actor in the UFO promo video. He needs and deserves support. I pledged to his campaign personally and hope you will check it out and consider doing the same.



Kickstarter Update #3 – Unidentified Funny Objects

August 27, 2012


We’re down to the wire, with just over 4 days to go and still $1000 short of the funding goal.

I’m doing my best to raise awareness about this project. Recently I’ve had interviews about it posted on the blogs of Luc Reid and D.M. Bonanno. But I’ve also been incredibly busy tackling the ever-increasing volume of submissions as we get nearer to the deadline. Which leaves a lot less time for fundraising.  So if you were planning on pre-ordering the book via Kickstarter, please consider doing so today so we can generate some extra momentum going into the final stretch. Thank you!



Kickstarter Update: Unidentified Funny Objects

August 7, 2012


It has been five days since I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Unidentified Funny Objects. The response has been great. Nearly fifty people pledged money to this project helping me raise over $1250, or 25% of the goal. Of course, there is a long way to go.  Kickstarter is an all or nothing proposition — either the project gets to its funding goal, or it gets no money at all and all that promotion and unkind spamming of friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds will have been for naught.

I think this project has what it takes to get there. That’s because I believe in how awesome UFO is going to be, and in the need for such an anthology in the marketplace. In short, I believe in what I preach :). But it can use a signal boost. Please let people who you think would be interested in this book know about UFO.  And, of course, don’t hesitate to order your copy via Kickstarter if you plan on buying UFO when it comes out anyway.