The Furry Writers Guild had a “Meet and Greet” panel at FurCon 2015, on Friday, January 16th from 3:00-4:30pm (Pacific time). I took very rough notes and shared them with the Shoutbox, where virtual participants added their comments. Below is an edited summary of the meeting, including contributions from both physical and virtual participants.
CAUTION: I’m sure that I misrepresented what people said, who said what, and omitted some brilliant comments. This summary is “based on a true story” but may not be entirely factual.
Guild Members Physically Present:
Mary Lowd (Ryffnah)
Threetails / Rose
*** GUILD OVERVIEW, RULES, AND RESOURCES ***
Mary: Guild is a resource for members. Forums, chatbox, etc. Grown a lot. Easy to see from meet and greet – so many more members than 2 years ago. Coyotl nominations aren’t open yet, but will probably open in April (-ish). Mentioned Coyotl awards, awards ceremony with mooseter of ceremonies and little plush coyotes. PT is the elected president. There will probably be elections again - in April or sometime?
Bill: Always important to make people think it’s a democracy.
Poetigress: Voting would be mid-May. Candidacy needs to be announced during April, roughly.
Mary: There was a guild anthology, and in the future there may be another one. History of the guild - ~4 years old, had a founder/leader, evolved… Regular shoutbox meetings, which start with progress reports, then discussion, ends with goals…
Bill: Partly doesn’t attend because he doesn’t have anything to report.
Mary: If that’s what you’ve gotten done, then that’s what you’ve gotten done.
Non-members: First story is about to be published, want to learn more about writing and becoming a member.
Mary: Check out the forums. Wide range of people, both newer and more senior. Very active.
Poetigress: We has website!
Franklin: Fandom is quiet as a whole, but guild forum is responsive. Went from one question to 10+ responses, Skype messages, etc.! If you stop by coffee house chats, they’ll ask you how it’s going and encourage you. Unlike dealer’s den, where you ask how it’s going and they grunt and ignore you.
Mary: Editors also hang out on the forums, so you can ask questions. Ocean Tigrox is editing the noir anthology, and he watches the forums. Mary is editing ROAR, and she watches the forums.
Ocean: Oh yay! I was mentioned
Munchkin: There’s also Sean with his Sports Antho and 20 Voices X3
Ryan: Also recommends Critters.
Poetigress: We do have lots of resources on our website, including other places for crit.
Watts: Explains Shoutbox. Like IRC. Updates in real time, mostly (sometimes needs refreshing). Would like to have a better solution to the Shoutbox that’s more reliable
Huskyteer: Right after you type something brilliant, the shoutbox will fail to post it.
Poetigress: Everybody loves to hate on the shoutbox.
Franklin: Sometimes it’s all quiet and then suddenly everyone hates their mother (?) and it’s a big discussion.
Huskyteer: Does it ever scare you when it’s quiet and suddenly the Shoutbox dings?
Non-member: Have not seen a lot of cetaceans (dolphins, whales, etc.) other than Startide Rising by David Brin.
Bill: Arthur C. Clarke novel (didn’t catch the name).
Mary: Check out last story in Allasso 3. Allasso 3 came out well. And is eligible for Ursa Major nominations. There’s a library section on the forums, with a giant reading list.
Fuzzwolf: Allasso is free to read, but you can support them by buying it on Amazon.
Bill: Mentioned Lance Steel, series of androids that keeps getting killed for everything that should get Captain Kirk killed.
Someone: Do people post stories on the forum, or link to them?
Others: Critique section on the forums can support receiving critiques.
Blackfeather: Critters also works for that, since it explicitly doesn’t count as “published.”
Ocean: Tell them to listen to Fangs and Fonts >__> All four members are Guild Members shameless plug
*** CONTRACTS ***
Someone: How does FWG connect to open source and creative commons?
Watts: That’s a publisher issue, not a guild issue. Claw and Quill uses creative commons.
Huskyteer: Guild can help you with your rights by answering questions about contracts.
Ryan: If you don’t read the contract, be careful, because they could change your story and publish it under your name. Writers Beware is another good resource.
Munchkin: I didn’t even know there was a writer’s beware o.o Sweet!
Poetigress: Planning to add more contract-related resources to the website in coming months.
Mary+Watts: Amtrak writer in residence - questionable contract, application materials were owned by Amtrak (though not stuff you write while doing it)
Ocean: Heard that was pertty exclusive to get into as well
*** NON-FICTION WRITING ***
Someone: What about furry non-fiction, such as transhumanism discussions?
Mary/Bill/Watts: Interesting, but hasn’t really been discussed on the
forums yet. Can imagine a paid article on the subject. Open question - can someone join the guild for published non-fiction related to furry?
Poetigress: Only if it’s the type of content that would qualify them as an associate. So there’d have to be a pretty established history. So, not impossible, anyway. As far as the non-fiction question goes, best thing is always just to drop me a line and see, and I can look things over and decide case-by-case.
*** HOW DO GUILD MEMBERS HELP EACH OTHER? ***
Someone: Do you help each other publish work?
Mary: Yes, by providing feedback and such.
Huskyteer: But editors often bend over backwards to not show favoritism in publishing work by people they know
Ryan: I intentionally give bad advice to sabotage other writers.
Ocean: We help by beta reading, giving you direct contact with editors and publishers, etc
Dwale: And sensual massage.
*** ANTHOLOGIES ***
Watts+Others: Anthologies appear to be big lately. Like a “story prompt that you might get paid for.”
Fuzzwolf: Anthologies don’t sell as well as standalone works, but he really likes them. Need a lot of help with anthology promotion.
Ocean: promotes anthologies Everyone go buy The Furry Future
Voice: Buy Abandoned Places instead.
Someone: Picked up Nebula anthologies in the '70s and found a lot of good writers through that. (So anthologies are a good way to get exposure to a lot of writers.)
Fuzzwolf: One good thing about the Furry Future is that the authors have been so good about promoting it through FA and elsewhere. Soon we’ll have enough writers that we can just sell everything to each other.
Poetigress: Isn’t that pretty much what we do now? O_o
Discussion: Some discussion of Ursa Majors. Michael Payne is the only Ursa Major winner present. Other nominees are present.
*** AWARENESS OF FURRY FICTION AND MARKETING ***
Franklin: Lots of people are coming to furry writing, either because it’s their passion or because they can get their work out that way.
Watts: many people don’t even know that furry publishers exist, and that you can make money selling furry books.
Someone: What about marketing?
Watts: We do it badly.
Mary: I have flyers for free fiction you can download!
Ryan: Giving away a lot of stuff is important for people getting you to read and buy your stuff.
*** FURRIES AND SOCIAL NETWORKS ***
Fuzzwolf: A lot of furries are on Facebook as furries. Also a lot on Twitter. Beware controversial statements…
Ryan: Once you’re on Twitter, you need to talk like a professional and maintain a professional persona
Threetails: On Facebook, majority of her followers are furries.
Ocean: OR at least make two separate accounts …
Ryan: Contact from Clarion followed him on Twitter, and was then confused about why it was recommending that he follow furries.
Discussion: On Facebook, they want you to use a real name or pay for a fan account. Alas.
*** FURRY WEB SITES AND ILLUSTRATIONS FOR STORIES ***
Franklin: FurAffinity or Weasyl? (…or SoFurry?)
Ocean: All three
Watts: SoFurry is best for reading. Keeps track of favorites and shows most favorited stories. Has curators that feature stories.
Someone: If you want critiques and feedback, SoFurry. If you just want
attention and no feedback, FA. Has received comments and criticisms on
SoFurry 8 years after posting a story.
Sasya: Most SoFurry readers skim to the last third of the story, read four paragraphs, and then they’re done ;p
Poetigress: I like Weasyl, though I wish it were more active.
Ocean: I like Weasyl best too but they’re still growing. I’m not a fan of what you have to do post work on SF. And FA is just unreliable and you have to make everything a text doc
Sasya: I miss Yiffstar xP
Munchkin: I miss yiffstar too >.>
Fuzzwolf: It helps to post an illustration with each chapter. That greatly increases the chances of people actually reading it.
Ocean: But don’t get mad when people just come for the picture >_>
Munchkin: Pfft, or ignoring your story just to look at the pretty picture
Dwale: I like the way Ocean phrased it. Sometimes they’ll definitely be doing that.
Poetigress: Not to mention, where are you getting all the money to commission the art for each chapter/story.
Franklin: “Out of Position” showed nice integration of art and literature
Watts: For Indigo Rain, the artist read the whole 30k word novella and replied within 2 days with 8 suggestions for scenes to illustrate!
Discussion: Some discussion of really bad book art, such as MS Paint and clip art.
Someone: Exchange of custom story for custom art (trade with artist) worked really well. Has anyone else done this?
Fuzzwolf: Yes, once, and it did work well.
Blackfeather: What rights do you need to obtain from an artist?
Watts: The right to reproduce it on the cover, website, etc. Artist keeps copyright. Would cost you a lot more to buy the copyright. Communicate clearly with artist, so they know what to expect. Rights are typically not time limited.
Blackfeather: Cost of print on demand vs. print runs?
Fuzzwolf: It is more expensive per copy than, say, printing 100,000 copies of Harry Potter, but more flexible and allows us to publish more different things.
*** ARTISTS VS. WRITERS ***
Franklin: Status of artists vs. writers?
Watts: Artists typically produce more items per year than a writer, which is one advantage they have.
Mary: It’s also much faster to know if you like a piece of art than a piece of writing.
Poetigress: Commissions are far easier and more lucrative for artists.
Ocean: But people have found written word sticks deeper in them over art
Threetails: Furry writing hasn’t been around as long, but it is growing tremendously.
Poetigress: @Ocean - It does have more of an emotional impact, if people are willing to put in the time.
Ocean: Yep. The hard part is convincing them to invest that time
Mary: Question is where is furry fiction now vs. three years ago
Fuzzwolf: Some writers get disheartened when they agonized over a difficult story and received no comments on FA, compared to a porn picture that may receive lots of comments. But it’s apple and oranges. Not a good comparison. Let’s all support each other, writers and artists. Not enemies.
Sasya: I think there are plenty of furry writers who would LOVE to have a “collaborative” relationship with the artists, but I think there are fewer artists who feel reciprocally.
Fuzzwolf: We do sell a good number of books; it’s not an insignificant portion of our sales, relative to the art. It’s grown. We wouldn’t keep publishing them if they didn’t sell. “There’s definitely people out there who want to read.” Expects that to grow.
Ocean: Yeah. Would love to do a graphic novel or a comic
Poetigress: @Sasya - Agreed. I wish there were better venues to facilitate networking/collaboration among the various media – artist, writers, musicians.
*** ADULT CONTENT ***
Fuzzwolf: Just like in the rest of the world, porn sells. When he first bought the company, it was mainly adult. Tried to balance that out. Now have more non-adult. People often won’t just buy a hardcore porn item, will also pick up other non-adult things.
Watts: In furry, everything that has an adult scene of any kind is marked as adult.
Sasya: I mean my god… Piers Anthony. Some of his stuff wouldn’t even be allowed to SELL at Anthrocon >.>
Fuzzwolf: “Adult” vs “Non-adult” in FurPlanet is not a good indication of what you might consider adult – some has one scene or a lot of violence. Stuff that would normally be sold in a brick and mortar bookstore with no special notice (not hidden behind glass or anything). Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is mainstream, but would definitely be marked as “adult” at a furry convention. Overly cautious distinction is largely due to Anthrocon, which has tried really hard to main a PG appearance.
Poetigress: Publishers have to be careful, because we’re still dealing with something (anthro animals) that in the mainstream is generally assumed to be for children. You don’t want to take readers by surprise, and do want it to be clear that it’s meant for an older audience. I feel like that plays into the labeling somewhat, but I could be wrong.
*** BREADTH OF FURRY WRITING ***
Franklin: Furry writing is broadening as more people get into it.
Watts: Kyell’s stuff has crossed over into mainstream gay romance. Some Amazon comments: “Anthro animals ok, but couldn’t get past the football.” People don’t mind furry as long as it’s a story they’re interested in. Evidence from participating in writing workshops, where people are happy with characters having tails.
Mary: In writing group, a surprising number of writers actually have furry stories that they didn’t know what to do with.
*** CONCLUSION ***
Poetigress: Also, in case there’s not a good opportunity later: a heads-up that there’s an anonymous survey that’s going to go out to all members by email before the end of the month, so please take advantage of the opportunity to give feedback on how the guild is doing and make suggestions on what we can do better.
Daniel: Meeting is winding down… I mentioned the survey.
Ocean: Tell them to write for noir