Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Structure and organization ideas

I wish I had a better answer to that.

Also, I was wondering, should membership be an active thing? As in, should it be something updated provided somebody meets the criteria, i.e. somebody must have something published once in a year to remain a member? I’m wondering since it seems a tad unfair that some people can become members by “getting in early,” so to speak. What I mean is, when furry was new, publications had less submissions, so it was easier to get something published in them. But now that things like ROAR get, 70+ (I think it was) stories per issue, so it is much harder to get published in them. So, theoretically, somebody might not have the talent to get into a new publication whilst they would have previously, so there can me non-members who are more skilled than old members who simply entered a submission into a publication with few submissions. I would like it if membership was reflective of the times, and that, as the standards of furry publishing progress, so too did the requirement for entry. I don’t know if people would be happy with that though. To me, it would help to combat people thinking the guild is a clique or elitist, since it’s own members would be subject to the same conditions as everybody else.

To me, there has to be a balance between PR and benefits. If the guild wanted to seem too open and lowered it’s requirements too much, then being a member would be pointless, due to the fact that anybody could obtain membership; akin to making an “I can breathe air club”. But if it’s too exclusive, the negative PR will discourage people from approaching the guild, so a fine balance needs to be met. I think that subjecting members to checks would encourage peopel to write, would help to reduce the number, but, because it’s a universal rule, would not be “elitist”, due to the fact that the rules apply equally to members and non-members- thus, increasing the benefit to joining, and the PR (increasing the reasons for joining, and the number of people who want to join).

The potential problems with requiring people to maintain qualifications that I could see would be that 1) that automatically creates more work for somebody to keep up with, who’s meeting the requirements and who’s not, and having to contact people and so on, and 2) publication just isn’t a steady predictable thing. I don’t feel it would be fair to yank membership just because a writer has an off year in terms of submissions or acceptances, or purposely takes a year off from writing/publishing to do something else, or what have you.

I do see the point about furry publications being more difficult to get into now compared to the zine days, and I can see where we might want to change the criteria as time goes on, to keep that balance between too easy to get in and too hard. I’m just not sure we’re at that time right now. (Conbooks are still very easy to get into, for one thing, as long as you can write to their specs.)

Couldn’t you automate it, then people could contact you whenever they’ve met the criteria, which would extend the “clock” for another year. You could also do that for people who need to take a break from writing. I don’t see the point about “off-years” though as a bit unfair, as the same could be said for non-members. In my mind it just seems a bit unfair that the criteria for joining becomes harder due to the nature of the economy for furry expanding, but people can have membership purely by being lucky enough to have been in at the right time. I don’t know, but that dimension makes it feel a bit like the guild is slightly clique, and about people looking out for their friends in a closed group, irrespective of skill or merit as a writer. Subjecting members to some form of standard that matches that of non-members would help, in my mind.

Most anyone who can string a sentence together can get a story in a conbook. Most still have too few submissions so they’ll accept most.

The membership qualifications are already dead easy.

I’d also say it’s not that exclusive because non-members can access the majority of the forum and interact with everyone in the shoutbox.

It might be necessary to change the title from Future Member, but I don’t think the bar for entry should be lowered.

I don’t know offhand of any other writers’ organization which requires you to keep maintaining qualifications (beyond paying annual dues), and I want to see more members in the FWG, not less. I don’t think we should have a mechanism which effectively serves to kick people back out. Also, I don’t think making it harder to stay a member – and thus in some sense more exclusive – is going to combat the notion that the FWG is cliquish. I don’t think “but people will see us as cliquish” is a good reason to do anything, honestly; I’ve been in various subgroups in furrydom since the late '80s, and I’ve learned that if you have anything that someone can possibly see as a gating mechanism for that group, the chances of being accused of being a clique rapidly approaches 100%.

I’ll trust everyone else’s judgement on these things then. I might write for two conbooks just to get membership, I’d never thought of that before. I guess my perception are skewed from only submitting one story to anywhere in the fandom. If what you say is true then I retract my prior statements.

Having a forum that requires you to make an account, to some people, seems exclusive. That’s a battle that won’t be won.

I agree, as said, that it’s already insanely easy to get membership. Conbooks are a very easy way, and even some of the current furry markets still don’t have the highest of standards (especially if they are low on submissions). Some of the editors are even willing to work with authors on horribly-written stories so long as the story itself as a lot of potential.

Definitely don’t need to lower that bar any more.

I’ve submitted five stories to five fandom publications. Currently I have one rejection, one acceptance, two decisions pending, and one that just completely vanished without a trace.

You did raise something interesting that I have been wanting to raise in this forum. I wanted to suggest “active” and “inactive” to membership where activity is centered on Guild based participation like posting in the forum, showing up to the coffeehouse chats, assisting with con events and panels, or even just paying dues. At this point in time I think it is more important to encourage members to give, rather than take if the Guild wants to move in any direction.

As much as I obviously want to see members encouraged to participate, I don’t know that giving the active members a different designation is really going to do all that much to encourage the inactive people to participate. I feel like no matter what we do, people are still going to participate or not, care or not; leading a horse to water and all that. shrug Or maybe I’ve just gotten cynical since I took office. :slight_smile:

In college I helped reassemble the GSA and quickly became the lone member, president, and treasurer. I kept the group afloat through graduation, but the group died again a few years later because members did not participate (replaced by an Ally program).

It may not encourage inactive members to participate, but it may encourage new members to remain active, particularly forum members who become Guild members. I think it is important to twist arms to get people to care because apathetic members can’t grow an organization. I assume we want to grow as I’d like to see the Guild provide union level clout in the community.

Why not just go with “Guild Member” and “Guild Associate?” “Non-Member” is an obviously general and relatively meaningless term (my mother is a non-member, but she’s not not likely to write anything anthro anytime soon). “Future Member” is a bit patronizing and presumptive, if very positive. “Associate” says you’ve chosen to associate with the guild, but, obviously, does not imply membership, especially in the context of a “Guild Member” designation to set it off against.

“Associate” already means something different in the context of the guild:

so I think adding a “guild associate” status would be even more confusing.

Honestly, I admit I’ve been having a hard time from the beginning understanding why “Future Member” is seen as patronizing, but that’s just my perspective. I mean, presumptive, okay, I can see that, but if someone really isn’t interested in being a member at some point, to the point where being called “Future Member” is somehow offensive, then why are they even here participating in the forums and associating with us? It’s maybe a little cutesy, but I just don’t see it as that big a deal in terms of affecting how someone feels about the guild or the forums. I’m just really surprised it’s been a turnoff for people (and yet, of course, you guys are still here, so obviously not a dealbreaker every time). :slight_smile:

Just chiming in to agree here. I think future member is fine.

Maybe cutesy. Maybe it’s the assumption that everyone will get in eventually. I dunno.

Though it’s worth pointing out that what seemed a reasonable term is already conflicting with something, so there seems to be a lack of clarity in the current system.

Really, I don’t care. It’s an arbitrary label. You could call us all Bob, as long as it was clear that “Bob” meant “not a member.” And if you wanted to use guilds as a model, you could always just go with Apprentice. That’s closer to what I as a not-a-member-writer want out of the guild, anyway: help developing my skills.

Ooh, can we go with Padawan! :smiley:

We were discussing this in the shout box and I suggested that rather than go to tiers, the FWG could have a more open membership and then offer badges of some sort to members based on achievements: publication, levels of money earned, critiques/betas offered to other members, blog posts authored, etc. If we want to restrict voting for Coyotls to some subset of a more open membership, that can be discussed, though I am of a mind with Maggie that it should include successful self-published authors as well as conventionally published authors.

Anyway, another idea to ponder over.

This kind of came along when it was brought up that there are a lot of folks who come here to build their skills and to find resources and support and to offer their own knowledge to help better the quality of the writing community more than just to be published. Yet the membership thing is based on publication, tiered or not. It seemed rather like the goals clashed quite a bit.

Personally, I’m a fan of this idea. It’s interesting how, on a psychological level, unlocking achievements can still motivate folks to work toward goals, and it helps to eliminate the initial elitist feel (incorrect as it may be) that had even turned me away from the guild for quite a number of years. Perhaps for the coyotls, that could be where dues play a hand. By paying dues, you get the chance to vote, and maybe we can throw in something else in there to get folks interested.

But yeah, that’s just my two cents’, for what it’s worth.

And yet, when we did the “what’s your writing goal?” poll here a while back, the responses skewed pretty definitively toward getting published, if not having writing as a career:


The badge idea to me makes things feel more like a game or an app or just some kind of a social group rather than a writers’ organization, but then I probably do tend to view the FWG more as a professional-style writers’ organization (or one in the making, anyway), which may not be how others view it or the direction they want to take it in. shrug

Well, the phrasing of the poll question was “pick the most ambitious goal that applies to you”; if we ran a poll about “what do you see as the next step in your writing,” the answers might be very different. This sounds like a bit of a nitpick, but I think it may point to something important: the SFWA, the professional writing organization I think the FWG tacitly aspires to, is for writers at a specific point in their writing life with specific goals. And it’s possible that the SFWA model isn’t what furry actually needs right now.

The SFWA was created in the mid-1960s, with a plethora of well-established professional sf/fantasy markets already established. The FWG is rooted in a fandom where the notion of “professional writing market” is, well, kind of a hypothetical. A lot of what we’ve talked about in this thread and other places has been trying to raise the profile of furry writing as an actual worthwhile thing. When the SFWA got underway they could already take that as a given. They started as a writers’ advocate with (and sometimes against) publishers; they came to prominence, as I understand it, supporting Tolkien in a fight with Ace Books over their unauthorized editions of The Lord of the Rings. I hope furry writing gets to a point where it can have such a crisis, but I think it’s safe to say we’re some ways off.

The FWG’s concerns seem, instead, to be about raising the profile of writing within our fandom, expanding the sales of our existing publishers and encourage the formation of new publishers – and, I hope, getting more furry writers to start genuinely thinking about writing as a craft, whether their goal with their writing at this point is professional publication or not. These concerns aren’t very SFWA-like, and that suggests to me that for the time being we shouldn’t really worry whether the FWG itself is very SFWA-like.

Has anyone suggested the term APPRENTICE?

It seems thematically appropriate for guild.

And, in keeping with that theme, the Guild leadership could award the title of JOURNEYMAN at its discretion for the award winning or award nominated self-published author, the rare cross-over published author who is just now interested in Furry, or a Fur creator’s credit is limited to publishing, editing, or dedicated beta-reading.