Furry Writers' Guild Forum

2018-19 FWG Presidency

Okay, so. This is a slightly last-minute announcement.

I’ll be up front: I didn’t expect to have (two-thirds of) a second term, and things have kind of been on autopilot the last half a year. There were a couple neat initiatives, notably the Awareness Week, but there’s a lot of stuff that I let go quiet that I shouldn’t have and a few big things that I should have moved forward that I didn’t.

“Let me try and get moving again” is a kind of strange platform to run on, but here are the specific things I’d like to aim for:

[ul][li]Self-publishers: This is the big one–changing the membership requirements to allow self-published authors in. I don’t know exactly what form this will take, but we’re way overdue on it.[/li]
[li]Branding refresh: I know that sounds very newspeak, but as cute as the FWG art is, it’s not particularly logo-friendly, and much of it is tied to the fursonas of past presidents. I’d like to add Chipotle to the bookmark the FWG to have its own identity.[/li]
[li]Advocacy: I’m going to need someone to help me resurrect the Book of the Month posts! But I’d like to go beyond that, and find ways to both expand furry readership and start gently nudging our growing cohort of publishers toward more professional contracts and reporting.[/li]
[li]Involvement: We really need to get members more involved! How? Well…you’re the members, so I’m going to be asking you. But you folks are ultimately our reason for existing, our best advocates, and our best resources.[/li]
[li]Infrastructure: Makyo ran into issues trying to move the forum that I haven’t quite figured out, either, but both the forum and the web site could use some behind-the-scenes love.[/li][/ul]

There are other things I’m not sure about yet, most specifically how to handle finances; a Poetigress and I found out, it’s difficult to use PayPal as if it were your club’s bank account, especially if your club isn’t incorporated. (This is why she ended up being treasurer this most recent term: it’s basically her PayPal account!) It’s also, however, somewhat difficult to incorporate as a nonprofit; we’d need to have a board of directors, file annual reports with the IRS, and so on. I’m going to look into ways to resolve this, although there’s a good chance you’ll just have to trust whoever the next president is not to steal the FWG’s money for the indefinite future.

Chipotle, i would like to help i some un-official way. I have done logos for several businesses in the past, if you let me know what you are thinking i can make up a few different ones and throw them at you.
Anything i can do to help with the self pub authors thingy, i would like to help there as most of my stuff is self-published. Not sure how else i can help, so let me know.
Sorry i don’t a thing about coding or scripts or any of that stuff.

On Self Published writers, or what is known as ‘Indy Authors’ I would set a minimum number of sales, PAID sales. Anyone can give away a thousand books, but not everyone can sell a couple hundred.

I’m not sure what level of sales you think are required, SFFWA has it set I think at a dollar amount of sales (five thousand maybe? I forget) but they’ve intentionally made it harder for Indies to join. I would personally think that for the purposes of this group, say $500 in Royalties from an online bookseller would be a good starting point to consider.

But I think one of the questions that really needs to be answered is: What do we want this group to be? Right now, the overwhelming majority of the people here are either hobbyists, or part-timers. As far as I know I’m the only professional full-time author on this site, and while I pop in fairly often to look around, this site really can’t offer me anything, and I really don’t want to get mired down in politics, of which this site sometimes has plenty. Personally I don’t care what another writer’s politics are, and I don’t really want to hear about it. Which is why I don’t really post here anymore.

So if you really want to make this site more useful to people, I think it needs to be refocused on not just writing, but how to be successful at writing. I think there needs to be a clear definition of which genres of ‘furry’ that exist that people here wish to write in, and perhaps specific forums (or sub forums) for each of those groups, so like minds can work together to try and learn how to increase market penetration.

Becoming a successful writer is not an easy goal, and the job’s a lot harder than it looks. Also everyone has different levels of success that they wish to pursue. Some folks are more than happy to just sell a short story every once in a while, or put out a novel a year. Some are okay with a few hours a day, and want to have a regular publishing schedule and look forward to some extra income. Then there are others who are lot more hardcore and want to make their living that way. (or the crazy ones like me putting out a novel a month).

With all the changes in publishing over the last several years, perhaps it might be time to review this forums goals, and how to better serve its members in their goal of becoming more successful writers.
Just my two cents.

The issue with number of paid sales for self pubbed authors is that it’s a much steeper qualification than we put forward for non-indies. I believe (just opinion) that it would be a huge mistake to model our organization after SFWA. Nothing particular against it or anyone involved with it, but it is very much behind the times and trying hard (and not always successfully) to catch up.

I do agree we could use to define what our goals our, focus, ect are. Finding some miraculous way to get the membership involved and excited seems like a really good start. But maybe we’d have more involved, excited members, if we found a way to be inclusive of indie authors.

Part of the problem with the comparison to SFWA is that SFWA serves a much larger market and community of authors than FWG does. So saying “sell 100 copies*” may be lowballing it for one group, but a high water mark for another.

*random number, not based on any research

The FWG was consciously modeled on the SFWA by its founders, and while I think that’s understandable, there’s been discussion in the past about whether it’s really the appropriate model. While there are several FWG members who would qualify as “professional authors” by most definitions (i.e., making a majority to all of their income from writing), statistically speaking, fiction writing is rarely a path to riches, and specifically furry fiction is very much not that. The SFWA’s original purpose was essentially to be a writers’ union, advocating for authors with–and when necessary against–publishers. This is something the FWG may need to gently do a little more of–as much as we love our publishers, they are collectively maybe a little too relaxed about some of the boring-but-necessary aspects of the business–but realistically it’s not going to be our main focus. A few years ago I suggested restructuring the membership levels to allow people who weren’t making any money from writing but aspired to get there to be FWG members (maybe “associate members,” although that title currently means “publishers”); to a large degree it’s just a semantic difference–changing “Future Member” to “Associate Member”–but I think it’s a meaningful one. The idea landed with a resounding thud then, but I’m still wondering if there might be some value to it.

Back to self-published members, though. My thought is that paid sales for self-published authors is a reasonable measure, if we’re going to continue having membership criteria that requires paid sales for joining in the first place. (This is undercut by the fact that we allow members to join for unpaid sales, of course, as long as they’re “editorially selected.” Personally, my preference would be for dropping the unpaid membership path, which isn’t used that often in my experience anyway. Members who are already in would of course remain.) It’s really setting the cutoff point that’s the challenge. My tentative thought was $250 of sales for a specific title in a 12-month period, and perhaps a higher amount (say $750) for all of an author’s titles collectively in a 12-month period as an alternate path, but I’d want self-published authors to chime in that.

Getting some real statistics would seem appropriate here. Get sales figures from XX self-published furry authors and take the median, or whatever your favorite unbiased estimator is, as the cutoff value, with XX ~ 50 – a few hundred (whatever’s possible). Just so that whatever value you decide on has some justification.

In my first year as a self published author (2011) I made $428 dollars. My best selling ‘furry’ book at that time made $94 dollars.
My second year I made over 7K and my best selling ‘furry’ novel made $500 that year.

Now, people are allowed in for having a certain number of ‘pro’ sales on short stories and the like, correct? How much money does that add up to, on average? That’s probably a good number to start with. But looking back at my sales when I started, I’d think that $750 number may be a bit high.

As for doing well with ‘furry’ fiction, well that just depends on what we define as ‘furry fiction’ doesn’t it? The definition for that used to be quite wide, but it does seem to have narrowed of late. I’ve done quite well with stories that would have once been labeled as ‘furry fiction.’ Everyone seems to keep narrowing their view instead of expanding it.

To help with the stats if possible: My first self published Novel Shielah of Earth made $406. in the first year.
total of self published works that years total sales of all three titles out that year was $1,500.
Hope that helps.