The FWG in 2018

It’s been a while since there’s been a blog post here, and we don’t “peel back the curtain” too much. So let’s pull up a chair and chat.

In mid-2017, the FWG presidency passed from Watts Martin (“Chipotle”) to Madison Scott-Clary (“Makyo”) without an election, as Makyo ran unopposed. Watts became the FWG’s first vice-president, and for somewhat arcane technical reasons, Renee Carter Hall (“Poetigress”) became the FWG’s first treasurer.

A few months later, though, Makyo resigned for personal reasons, and Chipotle—that’s me!—took over the office of president again in late September.

So. Let’s talk about where the FWG is, and what we’d like to do in 2018.

Our growth has slowed recently, but we have over 150 members, and the furry publishing scene has changed dramatically in the last couple of years:

  • We have more publishers than ever! Along with stalwarts Sofawolf, Rabbit Valley, and FurPlanet, we have Thurston Howl Publications, Weasel Press, Goal Publications, and more.
  • FurPlanet’s Argyll imprint is making inroads with mainstream SF readers, launching novels The Tower and the Fox and Kismet beyond the furry con circuit.
  • The Coyotl Awards have been recognized outside furry fandom. Lawrence Schoen’s Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, a Nebula nominee and Coyotl winner from Tor (the largest genre publisher in the world), mentions the Coyotl win in the paperback release.
  • After a long drought, we’re starting to see more periodical short story markets, rather than just anthologies.

The VP, according to the FWG bylaws, doesn’t do a whole lot, and the President probably does a little too much. Makyo didn’t get to update the blog with the traditional monthly posts—the Book of the Month and the member news updates—and I haven’t done it since myself. There are a few reasons for that.

First, let me be honest: I wasn’t prepared to step back into the president’s role, and I’ve been playing catch-up for months. I’m not proud of that, but I’m working to fix it.

Now, though, let me be candid. Those monthly member news posts are a lot of work for, according to the analytics, very little engagement. The number of people who’ve asked about why we haven’t done one since July is zero. So at this point, I’m not inclined to resume them, and will instead focus on keeping the web site market listings up to date.

We do need to get back to doing Book of the Month posts, and those will resume later this month. We’re also scheduling a guest post, and I’d like to start getting more of those, as well as producing the occasional focused article like the contract post from 2016. (By the way, if you’re one of the—two, I think—people who send in an unused guest post, we’ll finally be in touch.)

Beyond that, I’d like to kick off a couple other long-delayed initiatives.

I’ll talk about others later, but here’s the big one: we need to find a way to allow self-published authors into the FWG. I recognize that the Guild is loosely modeled on the SFWA (SF & Fantasy Writers of America), and the FWG’s original intent was to push a notion of professionalism in furry writing. But is someone who had two stories accepted by nonpaying markets more “professional” than an indie author selling thousands of copies? Right now, our rules say yes.

The SFWA accepts self-published authors now (in no small part due to the work of FWG member—and former SFWA VP—M.C.A. Hogarth), using revenue-based qualification: your self-published title must make a minimum of $3000 in one 12-month period, the same amount as it would need to have earned in royalties from a traditional publisher. We could just follow that lead with a smaller amount (say, $250 or $300)—that’s essentially how our present-day qualifications came about. But is that the right approach?

This rubs against some underlying questions about just what the Guild should do. The SFWA came into existence to advocate for writers with—and when necessary, against—publishers. Realistically, even if we wanted to, we’re not in a position to do that. But if we’re not a writers’ union, are we aspiring to be one? And what are we now? “The FWG is elitist” is a common knock from non-members; are we? Or do we just have to accept that any organization with membership qualifications, rather than being open to all, will be seen as “elitist” by some?

If you’re reading this (especially if you’ve gotten this far), you’re interested in this topic–so please join us on the FWG Forum or the FWG Slack Workspace, where most of the discussion happens. (If you’re not familiar with Slack, it’s a private chat system; it’s not like signing up for a new social network like Twitter or Facebook, but more like signing into a private IRC server.)

4 thoughts on “The FWG in 2018

  1. I’m not a current member, but my 2¢ on the subject of perceived elitism is that any organisations that have minimum standards for entry are going to attract that label whether noble or nefarious in intent. Accept it, and either work within it by focusing on the unionising ideals or work around it by doing community outreach projects like workshops or pro bono draft advice

    1. We do occasionally run workshops on the forum, and you can find beta readers for stories both there and in the Slack workspace.

  2. I feel that the guild has been stale on the over aching side. The members have been semi-active on the slack and the forums are nearly a ghost town.

    The holidays screwed me over and made me behind as well. I know people are busy but now we are heading into quiet time.

    I’ve noticed it’s been harder and harder to find beta readers. I’ll still in mid process of beta reading myself.

    The guild needs to build up and let more people in. I know quality is one thing but if we only allow in people with a ‘name’ how will the undiscovered talent get found? Those people desperately need the help of more experienced writers. I’m in the guild and I still have waaay too much to learn. I’ve been pushing to try to get my own stuff to a publishable state but the biggest problem? Editing. Its hard to find any low cost editors.

    So the guild should focus on helping more people. Classes, editors, writing groups. These are core things all writers need. People need a more focused place or it is just random chatter.

    1. Finding “remote” beta readers is always a challenge, but we’d like to keep working on that.

      I’d also like to work on some of the other things you’re suggesting. The dilemma is that we’re an entirely volunteer organization with no membership dues, so we can’t compensate volunteers. Leading classes, offering editing services, and coordinating writing groups turns out to be a way bigger commitment than people sometimes think they’ll be, so that’s something we’d have to be very mindful of when trying to offer services.

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