My name is Alex Shvartsman, and I'm a coffee addict.
I managed to stave off this addiction for the first thirty five years of my life. Coffee was my secret weapon -- since I drank it so rarely, a single cup could turbo-charge my caffeine-susceptible brain. And then I began writing fiction.
Coffee and fiction go together well. A little too well. I'm now at the point where I find it difficult to write new words without imbibing a cup of java first. I like to joke that coffee deserves a co-author credit on most of my stories. And I'm not alone.
Having spent a fair amount of time hanging out with other science fiction and fantasy fans, I learned that -- in addition to great books -- there are three things 99.9% of them love: cats, bacon, and coffee.
There has been a lot of excellent cat-themed anthologies and more are on their way. Recently, Baconthology was published to fill the small void in the hearts of bacon fans not yet clogged by consuming actual bacon. And yet, no one seems to have made the obvious leap and published a book of speculative stories about coffee. This Kickstarter campaign is to help correct that terrible oversight.
Coffee: The Book
There are many gimmicky things that could be done with a project like this. We could sprinkle the books with ground coffee beans to make them smell awesome. We could publish caricatures of Java the Hot. We could print it as a coffee table book that is also a coffee table. Well, maybe not that last one. Wouldn't want to get sued by Jerry Seinfeld.
I don't want to do any of those things.
What I'd like to do instead, is to create an anthology of quirky, fun, fascinating stories that involve coffee (or tea. Because many of us love tea, too.) Stories that are short enough to enjoy over a cuppa. I want this book to be fun and cool enough as a concept to make it a great present for the caffeine lover in your life, and yet interesting enough to make you read and re-read the stories within, rather than have it languish on the "I plan to read this someday, honest!" shelf next to "Ulysses" and "Anna Karenina."
That "20" number in the cover mockup is just a placeholder. There may be fewer or more stories in the book total, depending on the length and quality of what I'm able to collect.
Maggie McFee also lent us the use of her artwork "Boom" as an interior illustration for the book:
You can get a glossy, hi-res 8 1/2 x 11 poster of the above image at the $25 pledge level, or add $10 to any other pledge level and I'll add a print to your reward package.
I already have a few great stories lined up and am reading submissions for more. For the moment, I'm only looking to include previously published stories and pay the authors standard reprint rates. Which brings us to the next point:
What's the Money For?
As with all UFO Publishing projects, COFFEE will be published regardless of the success of this campaign. However, with your help I can make it a LOT more awesome.
I intentionally set the funding goal for this campaign relatively low -- just enough money for me to pay the contributors, produce the book, fulfill the rewards, and buy one large iced French Vanilla coffee from Dunkin Donuts (hey, it's hot in NYC in the summer!).
As soon as we hit the $1000 mark, I will begin soliciting original fiction for the book. I will pay authors professional rates (which is only $0.05 per word these days, but that's still way better than a lot of the publishers out there are willing to shell out). The more money we raise, the more original coffee-related fiction we can help bring into the world!
And I have a surprise stretch goal lined up, if (when? when!) we reach $2500.
Who Are You, Anyway?
I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer known primarily for penning humorous short stories. My yarns appeared in Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy's Edge, and a few dozen other magazines and anthologies. You can read my stories and blog posts here.
My favorite everyday coffee is Green Mountain French Vanilla with skim milk and 1 sugar. My favorite tea is Twinings Black Tea with Pomegranate (good to go without milk or sugar), or Ceylon tea, Russian style (with milk and honey).
As an editor, I've put together two books so far -- Unidentified Funny Objects 1 and 2 -- supported by two successful Kickstarter campaigns and released under the UFO Publishing label.
Unidentified Funny Objects is a series of anthologies of science fiction and fantasy humor. The first book was released in late 2012 and is available now. Here's what the critics had to say about this book:
"Shvartsman delivers a wonderful anthology and if you want to broaden your humorous SFF reading,Unidentified Funny Objects is a great place to start." - Mieneke van der Salm, A Fantastical Librarian
"A worthwhile, lighthearted read" - Coleen Chan, Tangent Online
"I chuckled more than once" - Lois Tilton, Locus
The stories for the second book have been collected and it will be published in September.
Although I don't have the cover for the second book to show you yet, here's an interior illustration by Barry Munden for Ken Liu's wonderful story "The MSG Golem":
I spent a little extra time talking about these other books because I'm offering copies of them as some of the rewards for this campaign. Also, because I place great value on producing beautiful, professional-looking books, and UFO1 is proof of that.
COFFEE itself will not feature humorous stories exclusively. I'm open to darker stories and even some light horror. But, knowing my editorial tastes, you can expect a fair amount of the funny stuff.
Call to Action
There are several ways in which you can help make this project awesome:
* Pledge whatever you can spare, and avail yourself of the excellent rewards listed to your right. In addition to those goodies, everyone who pledges $10+ will be listed as a backer on the COFFEE web page at ufopub.com
* Spread the word about this project on social media and at your friendly neighborhood coffee shop. Tell them they should sell this book at the checkout counter.
* Know of a great coffee- or tea-related story that might be a good fit for this book? Let me know, and I will hunt it down, read it, and try to reach out to the author if I love it. Keep in mind that fiction by Big Famous Writers is very expensive. I probably can't afford the reprint rights for Roald Dahl's tea story, "The Landlady." On the other hand, if you happen to be a Big Famous Writer (or a not-so-famous one) with a story that fits the theme, do let me know! Submission guidelines are posted here.
* Delicious samples of great coffee or tea (or recommendations for such) will be accepted with gratitude. Mail bombs and instant coffee will be returned to sender, with extreme prejudice.
* Seriously, tell people about this on social media. Coffee fans everywhere will thank you, and so will I.
Risks and challenges
The risks involved are minimal. This is a relatively inexpensive project and it is going forward. I already have a cover (designed by the very talented Emerson Matsuuchi) and a few stories. The only real concern is whether I can get the book printed in time for the October release. Barring any major issues/delays this should be doable, and I will keep everyone updated along the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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