UFO2 Submissions Update

May 5, 2013

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First of all, thanks again to everyone who pledged and promoted our Kickstarter campaign. We are fully funded and are able to produce the book in the fashion we wanted to, without cutting corners!

We received around 150 submissions in the first four days of May. The associate editors and I have been reading furiously to try and make sure that we respond very quickly and don’t hold anyone’s story hostage unless we’re seriously considering it for inclusion. As of right now, everyone who submitted on or before May 2 should have heard from us, either with a rejection or a round 2 bump. If you did not receive a response to your story submitted prior to May 3, please query us.

Here is a brief list of things we’re seeing too much  of among the submissions:

– Stories with contact info and byline still intact. I have to manually remove them before sending them over to the readers for anonymous consideration. This makes me sad.

– Zombies

– Stories that aren’t funny in any way, shape or form. We’re not sure why they were sent to us instead of a venue that isn’t seeking humor.

– Zombies

– Cliche aliens, usually with some sort of probing thrown in

– Reality TV stories

– Zombies

– Vampires

– Road trips complete with every road trip cliche, except they’re space road trips in space. Usually with a pit stop on Earth.

– Zombies

This doesn’t mean that you can’t sell us a zombie reality TV story about a road trip in space. But it won’t be easy.  When I see the word ‘zombie’ in a submission my eye begins to twitch, I extend my arms and walk around the office for a while moaning “rejeeeeect” — so you have to overcome that. Good luck.

Things that I would like to see more of:

– Unusual settings and scenarios. There are only so many times I can read a story about mythological gods in modern setting or aliens landing in rural America. Surprise me!

– Stories from international authors. We are actually doing quite good with that, so far. We have received stories from all over the world, and want more! Keep in mind that, while we are not considering reprints, we’ll make an exception for stories that were published in another language, as long as they have not been previously published in English.

– Art. We still need a cover artist/designer and possibly interior artists. While I am talking to a couple of people, we haven’t settled on anyone yet — send me a link to your portfolio soon if you wish to be considered!

 

 


UFO2 Kickstarter Campaign Ending Soon

May 2, 2013

Just over four hours remaining in the UFO2 Kickstarter campaign. We raised nearly $6500 so far, with $1500 to go! Over 200 people backed this project already, and if you haven’t yet, please do, and help us reach our goal.

I added my short story ebooks as an extra reward for everyone who pledges $25 or more. So, on top of the signed copy of UFO2 (or whatever else you select), you will get $5+ worth of eBooks (everything I release in 2013). This is the preview of the cover for the ebook version of “A Shard Glows in Brooklyn,” which I will release as an e-book along with “Requiem for a Druid” in early June:

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I should also add that we received around 100 submissions in the last 36 hours! Associate editors and I are reading furiously and will begin sending out responses in another day or two.

So please pledge to the UFO2 campaign and spread the word of it to others!

 


UFO2 Submissions Open Tonight

April 30, 2013

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The submissions are opening tonight for the UFO2 anthology and will remain open throughout the month of May. Please read the guidelines here and feel free to submit when ready (yes, a few hours early is OK.)

I would also like to remind everyone that the UFO2 Kickstarter campaign has entered its final 48-hour stretch. At this point we still need to raise nearly $3,000 in order to be funded. The anthology will be published regardless, but our level of success on Kickstarter will determine the overall volume of fiction I can buy for this book, whether I can afford to buy additional content for the web site, whether I can afford to pay for the highest-quality copy-editing and book design services…  In short, I need the extra funds to make UFO the best possible book I can produce.

Please consider pre-ordering your copy via Kickstarter as well as spreading the word about it to anyone who might possibly be interested in the next two days. Thank you!

Click here to view the UFO2 Kickstarter page.

 

 


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!


Hugo Noms and Adventures in Self Publishing

March 30, 2013

The Hugo Awards nominations were announced earlier today, and there is some great reading material on that list (and a number of things I haven’t yet read as well). The complete list of nominated works and publications is posted here.

I was especially pleased to see John Scazi’s “Redshirts” on the list, which I enjoyed and which was on my Nebula ballot but did not make the final cut there. I was disappointed not to see Ken Liu’s “The Waves” which remains the best thing I’ve read in 2012, but Ken is on the ballot with the excellent “Mono No Aware,” one of only three short stories to make the ballot this year.

And, of course, I’m disappointed not to have made the Campbell ballot. I never felt like I had a great shot, but a number of fellow writers and editors told me that I was on their ballots, and so I allowed myself to hope, at least a little. And even though I didn’t make it, those nominations mean a great deal to me, and I thank those of you who made room for me on your ballots from the bottom of my heart.

The Dragon Ships of Tycho

At the beginning of the month I made my first foray into the world of self-publishing.  I chose 3 stories that are sufficiently similar in length, style and content, and made each of them available on the Kindle for $0.99 each. At the end of each story there are plugs and pictures of the cover for the other two. I figured that the readers who bought one and liked it, would then snap up the other two. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of sales, but figured that the numbers — good or bad — would be similar across the three stories. Boy, was I wrong.

Here are the actual sales of the three stories, between March 5 and March 30, according to Amazon:

A Better Tomorrow – 1 sale

Price of Allegiance – 3 sales

The Dragon Ships of Tycho – 36 sales (35 in the US and 1 in France)

I dearly wish I knew what set “Dragon Ships” apart from the other two stories, so I could figure out a way to replicate its success. Is it a more evocative name? A more engaging description of the story? Something else entirely? Or just blind luck?

My next step is to try other venues. Last night I uploaded the stories to B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords. My experience with UFO suggests that the sales in those venues are tiny compared to Amazon. but I’m very curious to see if “Dragon Ships” will continue to outperform the other two stories across platforms.

 


The Great Short Story Ebook Experiment

March 8, 2013

I finally did it — I took several of my previously published short stories and made them available as e-books. They’re currently up on Amazon and over the next few days I’ll be making them available on B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords.
I made the plunge for several reasons:

* New readers. There are tons and tons of people out there who enjoy and buy e-books (including short stories) on places like Amazon, but aren’t an active part of SF/F fandom and aren’t even aware of some of the fine magazines and anthologies these stories appeared in originally. An optimal scenario for me is to have someone who’s never heard of me before buy an e-book, love it, pick up the other ones, and then come over to this page to see what else I’m up to.

* The skills. After working on this project, on and off, for the last month I have learned several things. I have a very rudimentary understanding of how to create a book cover and how GiMP works. I learned how to create a digital book from scratch. I learned how to format it properly for various e-readers and platforms. These are all skills that will likely come in handy as I work on future UFO Publishing projects (though I’d still much rather let professional cover artists and book designers create THOSE books, at least I can understand some of what they’re doing better).

* The data. I want to know as much as possible about the business. What sort of sales can I, as an author, generate on each platform? Which promotions and advertising works, and which doesn’t? Posting a few short stories is a low-budget way to tip the toe in the self-publishing waters and see what’s up.

* The money. Seriously, I don’t expect much. Each of these stories is priced at $0.99 and when one sells, Amazon will give me $0.35 of it. So I won’t be putting my kid through college off these short story sales. Probably. But… who knows, right? What is one of these goes viral? Once the e-book has been created and uploaded, there is no more cost to keeping it online indefinitely — in either time or money. Even before I had the chance to write this post and “officially” announce the existence of these particular e-books, several people bought “The Dragon Ships of Tycho.” At this rate I’m getting dangerously close to earning enough for a medium coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

I’m no expert on self-publishing, but I did have several ideas in mind that I hope will help make these e-books successful (besides writing the best possible stories I can, of course):

* Offer a well-edited, well-formatted, easy to read book. You’ll be surprised at how many self-published books (novels, even) are poorly edited and poorly formatted. I spent a fair amount of time making sure this wasn’t the case with my stories.

* Offer more to read. I intentionally waited until I could publish several stories at once that stand a good chance of appealing to similar readers. This way, should a reader happen to enjoy the story, there’s something else they can pick up right away. Each of these stories features a little ad for the other two at the end of the book.

* Great cover art. I can’t stress how important this is. There are so many self-published and small publisher books out there with mediocre covers. I really wanted my stories to stand out and spent a lot of time looking for perfect pieces for each story. I was fortunate enough to team up with several amazing artists from around the globe. The art is theirs. The layout (in 2 of 3 cases) is mine — so don’t blame them for it!

Without further ado, here are the three stories:

The Dragon Ships of Tycho

Human diplomats race against the clock to forge an alliance with a one-time adversary who possesses a fleet of dragon warships.

Originally from the Galactic Creatures anthology edited by Elektra Hammond (Sparkito Press/Dark Quest Books)

Cover art is “Space One” by the British artist Andy Fairhurst.

Price of Allegiance

Earth’s ambassador to the Galactic Union wants his superiors to choose loyalty over technological advancement. But, when it comes to the interstellar politics, the choices are never what they seem.

Originally from Penumbra magazine (Musa Publishing)

Cover art is by the French artist Benoit Dromby

A Better Tomorrow

On a crippled spaceship, as the air is running out, one man must fight to protect the cryogenically frozen colonists, even at the cost of his own life.

Originally published in Interstellar Ficiton magazine.

Cover art and cover design by American artist Aimee Cozza

Unlike the other two stories, A Better Tomorrow is available online for free. You can read it here. So why publish an e-book, you ask? It’s all part of the experiment. As I wrote above, there are many people browsing and buying on the Kinde, Nook, and other devices who are not familiar with web zines, and I’m curious to see how the sales of this book will compare to the sales of the other two, which are not available online for free.

So there you have it. Let the experiment officially begin!

If you want to pick up one of these e-books or if you already read these stories and would like to do me a kindness of posting a brief review, please follow the links below:

The Dragon Ships of Tycho

Price of Allegiance

A Better Tomorrow

I will post the links to other sites once these books become available on there.

 


“Spidersong” at Drabblecast

February 11, 2013

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“Spidersong” was my first SFWA-qualifying sale and remains one of my stronger flash stories written to date. It’s been a busy week for this little story. First it was reprinted in the anthology of Campbell Qualified authors (see previous post), and today it’s live at Drabblecast!

They do an amazing job, making the story sound awesome and creepy at the same time. It’s also really cool that “Spidersong” got the cover treatment! (It’s one of three flash stories in this week’ s edition).

 


2013 Campbellian Pre-Reading Anthology

February 8, 2013

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The award season is upon us. Hardcore fans are furiously catching up on their reading so they can nominate their favorite books and stories for Hugo and Nebula Awards. But for those of us who only recently joined the ranks of professionally published authors, there’s another important accolade: the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

One is eligible for the Campbell Award within the first two years of their first professional publication. Most of the time the title goes to writers who produce an excellent first novel, but occasionally short fiction writers have been honored as well.

There are literally dozens of great eligible authors. Chances are, you don’t know who most of them are yet — but you should.  This year, M. David Blake and Bruce Bethke of Stupefying Stories put together a great sampler of work from the eligible writers. Whether you plan to vote for the award or not, you can download this very large volume absolutely free of charge. It may contain the next G.R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling and you’ll be able to claim that you were reading them since way before they became famous!

In addition to those soon-to-be discovered geniuses, this anthology contains three of my stories:

“Spidersong” is a dark SF flash which was originally published by Daily Science Fiction in late 2011 and was my first Campbell-eligible sale.
“A Shard Glows in Brooklyn” is an adventure story that combines humor, noir, and urban fantasy elements with the colorful setting of my home town. It was printed in Buzzy Magazine last April.

“You Bet” is an absurdist humor piece about a unique Poker game. I published it at the UFO web site as part of my fulfilling the promises made during the UFO Kickstarter campaign.

When given an opportunity to showcase some of my work in this anthology, I selected these stories because I feel they are a good representation of the sort of things I like to write. They are not my best work to date — those stories are either releasing in 2013 or are still looking for markets — but they’re good stories and I’m proud to have them help make my case for nomination.

So why should you consider nominating me for the Campbell Award?

* I wrote my first story in the spring of 2010. I sold it the same year. And I sold my second one, too.

* In 3 years, I sold 43 original stories to date, not counting reprints and micro things like Twitter fiction.

* Six of those sales are to SFWA qualifying markets. Many others are to pro paying markets.

As proud as I am of those accomplishments, everything really comes down to just one thing: how much do you like the stories? So, please, read this anthology. Track down and read works by the eligible authors who weren’t included in it. And then nominate / vote for the authors whose work has impressed you the most.

Download the FREE Campbellian Pre-Reading Anthology here.


Publication: “The Field Trip” in Nowa Fantastyka

January 29, 2013

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My short story “The Field Trip,” was was originally published in the In Situ anthology from Dagan Books, appears in the February issue of Nowa Fantastyka, Poland’s premier SF magazine.  This is the first time one of my stories has been translated and published in another language, and the magazine looks spectacular. Plus, I get to share the TOC with Tad Williams. How cool is that?


“The Far Side of the Wilderness” accepted at Beyond the Sun

January 28, 2013

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I first heard about “Beyond the Sun” when editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt launching a crowdfunding campaign for it on Kickstarter. I love space opera, and was intrigued by the concept as well as by the stellar list of potential contributors. So I summoned up the courage and reached out to Bryan, asking if he would consider a submission from me.  He graciously allowed me to submit something, and a few weeks later I e-mailed him a space opera story with lots of alien races, intergalactic conflict, and other cool stuff that I was certain would win Bryan over.

It was rejected within a week.

Bryan was a class act though. Despite the fact that he knew he wasn’t going to pick up the story, he returned the file with extensive copy-edits and suggestions, many of which I adopted before submitting it elsewhere. I thanked him, and asked if I could try something else. Bryan told me that he’d let me know, but in all fairness, he wanted to get submissions from all the other writers he invited first. Which made perfect sense.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I was down with a nasty case of the flu which was just beginning work me over. I wake up on a Wednesday morning to an email from Bryan, letting me know that I can submit something else, but I’d have to get it to him by the weekend. At this point I have no space opera story in my inventory, or even a developed idea for one. And I’m enjoying the flu.

So I sit down to brainstorm on Wednesday morning and write half a story. On Thursday morning I write the other half, and send it off to beta readers. I edit based on their suggestions and submit it by late Thursday evening, and after some very minor edits, Bryan accepts it on the following week.

This is, without a doubt, the fastest concept-to-submission-to-sale turnaround I’ve had on a story that isn’t flash-length.

Bryan announced the TOC today. It includes stories from Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, and many other writers I like and admire. My own story will appear between tales by Jason Sanford and Cat Rambo! Behold the complete table of contents.

Beyond the Sun will be releasing later in 2013.