UFO6 Kickstarter Live!

March 7, 2017

The Kickstarter campaign for Unidentified Funny Objects 6 launched this morning. It is also the cover reveal: gaze upon another awesome illustration by Tomasz Maronski!


There are special Early Bird rewards as well which are available to those who back the campaign in the first 36 hours (by 10pm Wednesday Eastern time) — so please check it out and also help me spread the word: I can only reach a certain number of folks but everyone who shares and posts about the project will reach further, letting others know about the campaign and the UFO series!

Link to Kickstarter here.



Unidentified Funny Objects 5 Kickstarter Campaign and Cover Reveal

March 1, 2016

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Here it is! Another excellent cover by Tomasz Maronski. Stories are coming in at a steady pace from the invited headliners and we’re only a month away from the open submissions window, so read the guidelines and get your funny fiction ready!

Today we also launch the Kickstarter campaign for this book. The entire series wouldn’t have been possible (at least at its current quality and quantity of stories) without the support of our Kickstarter backers. It has provided me the freedom to pay writers, artists, and other professionals involved fair rates and to do everything I can to make the books look and feel like they were published by a major press rather than some guy from Brooklyn. Any faults are my own, but the success of the series belongs entirely to the amazing authors and artists I find myself so fortunate to collaborate with on these stories.

Which is a very long-winded way of saying please support the Kickstarter campaign. Even if you can’t afford to pledge (which is okay), you can help by letting your friends who might want this book know about the campaign. Please spread the word far and wide on social media.

Kickstarter link:




Kickstarter Creator Basics Videos

May 7, 2015

Kickstarter posted a series of brief Creator Basics videos on their YouTube channel, where Lisa Lucas, Daniel Jose Older, Farai Chideya and yours truly get to dispense some wisdom about preparing to launch a Kickstarter project in publishing and journalism fields.

This is pretty basic information (as advertised in the series’ title!) but if you are relatively new to Kickstarter and are thinking of creating a campaign, it’s a good start-off point.

Watch the videos here.



UFO4 Kickstarter: Final Day

April 7, 2015

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I’m very excited to report that UFO4 has already reached its initial funding goal of $8,000 and we’re now working toward our $10k stretch goal of a second, reprint anthology of humorous science fiction.

If you’re inclined to support this project, please visit the Kickstarter page and see if there are some rewards you might like?

I can also report that we’ve received a bit over 150 submissions to date and have responded to over half of them. I’m inclined to concentrate on the crowdfunding campaign over submissions today and tomorrow, but will catch up soon. Even at our “slow” times we tend to respond to an overwhelming majority of submissions in under a week, and often in 1-2 days. So send your stories — we won’t waste your time by sitting on the manuscripts for months before they’re even read!




How to Pay Your Writers panel at Kickstarter HQ

April 2, 2015

I recently participated on the live panel at Kickstarter HQ about paying writers for their work.

You can now watch the panel in its entirety, posted at the Kickstarter blog:




UFO4 Kickstarter Campaign is Now Live

March 9, 2015

Today I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Unidentified Funny Objects 4 – the 4th annual collection of humorous science fiction and fantasy. This will be our first themed volume, and will feature stories by George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Esther Friesner, Mike Resnick, Karen Haber, Jody Lynn Nye, Gini Koch, Karen Haber and Tim Pratt.

There will be a submission window in April so that newer authors have a chance at sharing the table of contents with these established pros. All authors will be paid at pro rates.

And, of course, there’s a gorgeous and funny cover, by Tomasz Maronski:

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Please check out the campaign page, and help me spread the word of it to others? #SFWAPro


Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

August 14, 2014
Small Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

Small Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

My short story collection “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories” is doing really well on Kickstarter. Not only is it well on its way to the second stretch goal (have you backed it yet? If not, why not?), but it was also selected as the Kickstarter Staff Pick early on in the process. I noticed that many of the campaigns that received this honor have pasted “Staff Pick” buttons onto their cover images, but when I searched through Google Images for a freebie copy of such a button that I could copy, there was none to be found.

Sure, anyone who has even a modicum of graphics design skills can make their own in about 5-10 minutes. But what about those of us who lack even the basic level of such skills? I reached out to my friends, and Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll Magazine was kind enough to do a quick design of such a button for me. With his kind permission, I’m making it available for everyone else — if you need it, feel free to grab it from here and use it in your campaign! Stop by his site and leave him a note of thanks, but otherwise, have fun. I’m posting both small and large files here, and tagging them so people can have an easier time finding them via search engines.

Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

Kickstarter Staff Pick Button


And, of course, I would be remiss not to plug my ongoing Kickstarter campaign one more time:

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman#SFWAPro


Video of the Kickstarter SF/F Editor Panel is Live

August 11, 2014

Last week I participated on the editor panel hosted at the Kickstarter HQ. It was moderated by Margot Atwell and featured five editors. Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld Magazine), Brian White (Fireside Magazine), Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older (Long Hidden anthology), and me. It was a really fun event, and lots of intelligent things were said (mostly by the other participants!). The entire panel is now up on YouTube.

It’s an hour long, and it felt very much like a panel at a science fiction convention. If you don’t know what that’s like (or if you do, and enjoy those panels), you should watch the video.




Tales of the Elopus

August 9, 2014


I wrote a total of 14 micro-stories for the GISHWHES contestants in the past week, and now I’m going to post them for people to read, one at a time, as updates in my Kickstarter campaign.  They are free for everyone to read, whether you back the campaign or not, so check out today’s story “The Most Dangerous Game” here, and check back daily for more tales!

I’m also very excited that the campaign has reached its first stretch goal. Now it’s on to the Big One — the audio book which will unlock if the campaign raises $4000+. I’m very excited about the possibility of working with Tina Connolly on the audio book and feel optimistic about being able to reach that goal — there is still 18 days remaining in the campaign.

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman

Click on the cover to visit the Kickstarter campaign!



August 5, 2014


If you’re a popular science fiction writer, chances are you’ve been inundated with requests in the last few days. People–sometimes fans, sometimes total strangers–have been asking you to write micro-fiction. The more famous the writer, the more such requests.

So what’s going on? There’s an actor named Misha Collins (a star of Supernatural TV series) who runs a very popular Internet scavenger hunt called GISHWHES — or Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.” Teams of players race to complete fun and wacky tasks, such as snapping a photo of elderly people mud wrestling, staging a water balloon fight set to opera music, etc. They score points for each item completed, based on the difficulty of the challenge.

This year, Misha Collins also directed his minions to do this:

Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus.

An Elopus is sort of like a Cthulhuphant — half elephant, half Octopus pictured in their logo above.

Cue the many Big Name writers befuddled by all the requests:

And those are the polite tweets. Some authors are quite mad at Misha for doing this.

Personally, I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, I feel that Misha has done nothing wrong. No one is forcing any writer to participate in this exercise. It’s completely voluntary, and many of my colleagues welcomed the chance to help out the contestants while picking up a few potential new readers/fans.

On the other hand, I feel strongly that writers shouldn’t be expected to produce commissioned stories for free. Even tiny little micro-stories of under 140 words.  It may not take very long to write one, but a good writer spent years polishing their skills and there’s value in that. Also, there are other important things they could be doing with that time.

This afternoon I stumbled upon a brilliant post by Michael A. Burstein whereupon he offered to write these stories in exchange for at least one team member picking up a copy of one of his books. This seemed like a very fair and rational way to approach the situation, so naturally I stole it.

The idea meshed perfectly with my ongoing Kickstarter campaign to fund my short story collection. So I posted an update on Kickstarter and share it on social media, basically offering the following:

* I will write a Misha story for free for anyone who is already a backer of my campaign.
* If anyone wants one who isn’t a backer, all they have to do is pledge $10+ to the campaign, and they will get a micro-story for their team out of it AND all the rewards that go with whatever level of pledge they select.
* I will post all the micro-stories I write in this fashion as backer updates on Kickstarter (set to private, so only backers can see them, thereby protecting First Rights in case I ever want to do anything else with those stories.)

This worked out really well. Over the course of the evening, I managed to adopt a total of four GISHWHES teams. I already wrote and sent stories for the first three teams (and I must say, I’m pleased with how those stories turned out!) Going to write the fourth tomorrow, and any more that come in (a couple of other folks expressed interest.) I also raised almost $100 extra for my campaign, and exposed it to a whole bunch of new readers because so many people were kind enough to retweet my offer.

My offer is still open to interested GISHWHES teams. And there are other options, too. Lots of other great writers are willing to work with you — including the above-mentioned Michael Burstein, and Nathaniel Lee, who is the master of micro-fiction! So please, take advantage of our skills and our imaginations. So long as there’s a fair quid pro quo involved.