FWG Newsletter: November 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! Let’s get right down to business, shall we?

Usually, I save the part where I directly talk to you all until the end but we’re switching things up this month. I don’t want to talk about money, but I’ve got to bring it up. It isn’t free to keep the guild running. We are moving to becoming a 501©(3) and between running a convention and the Cóyotl Awards costs add up. Plus we have web hosting and a new logo… You get the picture.

The guild has never made mandatory dues and does not have plans to do so in the future. However, the guild keeps going thanks to donations from our members. A lot of you enjoyed Oxfurred Comma and the guild having more activity this year, and hope you will consider showing some support if able (2020 has been a hard year, we all know it).

If you can, please consider donating to the guild. We accept donations on paypal.

That’s all from me folks, we’ll show off the open markets and such as usual but until next time, stay safe, stay well, and I’ll see you next month. 

– FWG President Linnea Capps

Pre-Orders This Month:

Remember to submit to our Promotion Tip Line to have your books included in this section.

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open:

FWG Monthly Newsletter: October 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! We have a lot fewer releases and other bits of our usual news to cover this month, so let’s make our focus be on important guild activity.

First, we’ll make this quick: It’s NaNoWriMo! Want to try and write a novel in just a month? The FWG Discord has an official channel for the challenge and we’ll be trying to run some writing sprint challenges as well. Be sure to check it out if you’re interested!

Second, some of our most exciting news to date: It was one of the biggest promises I made when running for guild president, and thanks to a stunning donation to the guild to cover costs, the Furry Writers’ Guild will be becoming a 501©(3)! We intend to keep you all as updated as we can throughout this process, but the short version is this will allow us to offer a LOT more services potentially to members of the guild.

Things like helping provide discounts to certain writing-related services, offering a NetGalley program (similar to the SFWA), potential blog book tour services developed, and potentially even publishing guild anthologies. This is of course the VERY shortlist and not a promise yet, just things that look possible to do. We promise to offer more details as they are available.

With this in mind, we thought it was a good time to get some feedback on the guild. We have done a lot this year from our Suggested Reading List to Promotion Tip Line and even Oxfurred Comma! Still, we as a guild want to do more. We want to know what kinds of things guild members want so we have a better idea of what we can provide and to figure out where to put resources or recruit volunteers to help make things happen.

So we have created an official Guild Feedback Form we wish for you all to fill out (this includes non-members of the guild as well). It begins with a few very basic questions on guild activity followed by more direct questions on potential programs or fun activities we have considered running. You can skip the latter questions if you simply want to provide direct feedback, but we would love to hear what you think!

Here is the Guild Feedback Form. We will be looking at submissions for this through the end of November, so make sure to get your thoughts in soon!

Guild Feedback Form

One last thing, don’t forget about our ongoing discussions on requirements to join the guild.  We invite you to discuss this on the forum as well as on Discord in our guild feedback channel and on Telegram. We want to manage guidelines to support all the furry writers we can, so help us make that a reality!

Have you backed and/or submitted to Difusity 2 on Kickstarter? Let’s support BIPOC furry authors and make sure this gets funded.

Remember, we now have our Promotion Tip Line to submit to if you have new releases coming out, so don’t hesitate to fill that out so we can feature your book in our next newsletter! 

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open:

I’ll close this with a little talk about Oxfurred Comma. For the guild’s first-ever attempt at an online convention, all of the feedback you have shared so far has told us we managed quite the success! There are of course hiccups for us to iron out as well, but one of the most common questions we received was: Will this happen again next year even if conventions return in person?

We want to let you know this is a resounding YES. In fact if possible, this may become a twice a year online writing retreat of sorts as many people requested we should attempt to do something like it more often. We discuss this in the feedback form so don’t forget to fill that out!
Also, all of the panels minus one (we’re working out exporting issues) are now available on YouTube. If you couldn’t watch a panel live, we highly reccomend you check them out!

With so much happening in the world this month and COVID-19 cases on the rise in many places, now more than ever be sure to keep safe and allow yourself time to rest when you need it. We want to be able to read your stories for years t come and that can only happen if you’re cautious and we all help one another. Stay strong, do your best, and reach out if you need some help. Let’s all meet here again next month.

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Oxfurred Comma Begins TODAY!

That’s right folks! We’re keeping this one short and sweet. Oxfurred Comma begins today and we want to see you attend the first ever online convention that focuses purely on furry writing. Let’s hit the quick bullet points!

That’s it! We hope to see you all there enjoying this fun weekend of furry writing!

FWG Newsletter September 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! Let’s dive right in because we’ve got a lot to cover!

If you’ve somehow missed it, Oxfurred Comma, an online convention for furry literature, will be taking place from October 17th to 18th in conjunction with Furry Book Month. Here are some of the other important dates you have to look out for:

We want to especially encourage panel submissions currently for the convention. We have the opportunity to take more specific writing panels than most conventions can offer. So share with the world your expertise, let us hear you read from your latest book, or do whatever else you can think of! 

We also want to let you know that NSFW panels WILL be accepted so long as they follow Twitch guidelines. The short version: if you’re offering educational content and not showing pornographic materials on screen? You’re likely good to go!

We are also proud to announce that Oxfurred Comma will also be presenting the Oxfurred Comma Inclusivity Award (OCIA). This award will be given to a person that has done work to advance recognition for marginalized peoples and groups within the furry writing community. We hope this will be a strong step in the guild’s continued work in uplifting marginalized voices within the furry community.

Finally, we have one last reminder about our ongoing discussions on requirements to join the guild.  We invite you to discuss this on the forum as well as on Discord in our guild feedback channel and on Telegram.

With guild business out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! We featured another two members this month on the blog for interviews that we hope you check out.

We’d love to take this opportunity to mention we would love to feature more interviews like this, as well as potential guest posts on writing tips for our blog. Please contact a guild officer if you would be interested.

We saw a few new releases cross our path this month you might want to check out including:

There’s also a kickstarter currently running for Difursity 2! Let’s support BIPOC furry authors and make sure this gets funded.

Remember, we now have our Promotion Tip Line to submit to if you have new releases coming out, so don’t hesitate to fill that out so we can feature your book in our next newsletter!

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open:

We also want to let people know we need more stories for Microfiction Monday as we’re almost out! So get those submissions in here

I would like to end this month’s newsletter with a special request. Both Can You See Us Now? and Difursity 2 opened for submissions this month. For BIPOC writers reading this, I would love to encourage you to submit. For those that aren’t, I want to ask that you promote the submission calls in any spaces you can. Here is a tweet about Can You See Us Now? and one for Difursity 2

I want the word spread to as many people as possible so that the resulting slush pile will be massive beyond all reason. Let’s all take this time to help uplift marginalized voices and help them share their stories. Keep well, stay safe, and keep on writing.

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

FWG Interview: Khaki on The Voice of Dog and Recording Stories

Welcome back to another FWG interview. Today we’re featuring Khaki from the Voice of Dog. Don’t know the Voice of Dog is? Ever wanted to learn a bit about recording your own stories? Then read on and enjoy the interview!

FWG: For those that may not know you, tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Khaki: Hey! I’m Khaki. I used to go by “Alex Vance”, and I’ve done a lot of things in this here fandom, except Fursuiting and Con Staff.

I founded Bad Dog Books, FANG and ROAR, wrote and produced the graphic novel series Heathen City (and won an Ursa Major for it!), guested on the Furry Basketball Association and Bad Dog Book Club podcasts, and was privileged to be asked as Guest of Honour to Rusfurence in Moscow, JFTW in Bristol and CesFur in the Czech Republic.

Nowadays I’m a professional photographer, and at furry cons you’ll always find me with my trusty camera and a big dumb grin.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Khaki: Oh dear. What makes a good meal? Not the wine or the dessert, though they can diminish or lessen the experience!

I think the thing that a story is most dependent on is its characters. They don’t have to be “people”, but they have to be interesting, comprehensible, and real — which is to say, as a reader, you can feel when a character only exists to further the plot, and isn’t fueled by internally consistent motivations, even if you don’t yet know what those motivations are.

Now, if only it was that easy to recognize while you were writing them…

FWG: From your introduction, it’s clear you’ve been involved in the world of furry literature for a long time. Can you tell our readers about The Voice of Dog and what inspired you to start the project?

Khaki: I retired from writing some years ago — nothing dramatic, I just fell out of love with writing. I still missed it in the years that followed, but I realized it wasn’t the writing itself I missed, but rather the furry writing community. And I’d also enjoyed doing story readings for the Bad Dog Book Club, but when that podfaded, I didn’t really have an outlet or impetus any more.

The Voice of Dog was, however, born from the COVID-19 pandemic. Early March, we were all feeling uncertain, and powerless, and stuck at home and isolated, and I knew some folks were feeling that much more than I did, and I felt powerless to help them.

It was rather spontaneous, honestly. I told my friend Rob Baird “Hey, I want to Make Something today. Can you give me a story to read?”

I was looking for something to do with the extra time I got now I didn’t have to commute every day, and specifically to do something that could give people a sense of hope, community and courage, however small.

I shared my reading of Rob’s Story, which was “Bad Dog!”, and an excellent story about defiance and courage in the face of systematic oppression. And I wanted more. I asked other writers for stories, anything they wanted to share, as long as they ended on a high note.

I picked the cheapest, easiest podcast host I could find to spend more time making it and less on overhead, and started releasing stories every day. I wanted my fellow furries to have something to enjoy, or to look forward to, or at the very least, to know that someone out there cared enough about them to make something every single day.

Of course, it was also a great way to give furry writers a boost and broaden their audience, so even after two months of 7-days-a-week podcast episodes, and the New Normal started to become clearer, I knew I wanted to continue.

Now there’s three stories a week, but they’re still passionate, excellent, diverse and, crucially, there’s no bummers.

FWG: Can you tell us a bit about the organizational process needed to put out multiple episodes a week?

Khaki: Certainly! Obviously I care about gear, like a good microphone and pop filter, but the challenge for this project wasn’t just cleanliness or even narration quality. I had to be able to produce multiple episodes a week, so comfort and convenience were also high priorities.

I’ve made submission templates, which authors fill out when they submit a story to The Voice of Dog, which includes stuff like their introduction, links to their credits, pronunciation guides and character voice descriptions, which saves a lot of overhead.

I have my recording set-up refined so that I can speak into my microphone while reading comfortably from my screen, with good posture to aid breathing.

FWG: Recording so many episodes must take a lot of editing. Do you have any techniques to help reduce the time it takes?

Khaki: I make a lot of errors! Mispronunciations, or losing my place in the sentence, a wee catch in my throat or the eternal struggle to do character voices consistently and authentically.

To save myself from the overhead of editing each recording afterward, I do the editing while I record; a technique called punch-and-roll recording. When I make a flub, I move the playhead in my recording software back to the beginning of the sentence. When I hit record, it first plays back the last five seconds of audio, so I can mouth along, and remember my intonation and breathing rhythm, and then immediately start speaking.

The edits aren’t always perfect, but they’re quick; I can record a single story in a single one-hour session, and that’s important when you have to produce several a week, every week.

FWG: What is one of the biggest challenges when trying to record the podcast?

Khaki: The biggest challenge is… quiet. Outside my room there’s a street, where there are often children playing, or adults talking, or cars driving past. Most of my recordings are early in the day, before it gets busy.

FWG: Can you offer any advice to someone interested in recording stories?

Khaki: When people ask me for advice, as a photographer, on which camera they should buy, I usually advise “one that you’ll have with you every day” and that’s the same for anyone who wants to learn to do this. If you have a budget, don’t spend all your money on the most expensive microphone; consider investments that make your life easier. An extension cable for your headphones, a desk arm so you can easily position the mic. A riser to put your computer’s screen higher, so you can read it more comfortably while recording.

All those things are sources of stress, and the listener can feel those in the recording, even if they can’t hear them explicitly. When I record a story, I’ve made sure I’m physically and mentally comfortable, and ready to enjoy the story. I’m in a headspace where I’m genuinely eager to talk to the listener again, and I’m excited to see how the story will go.

I believe that makes story readings enjoyable to listen to. Just like music, as a listener we’re empathetic to the experience that the narrator or musician conveys, both through their performance and through their actual emotions. When I sit down to record, I do so with genuine love in my heart, for the story I’m reading and the listener who’s going to enjoy it.

FWG: So do you think anyone reading this, with a little effort and research, could record their own audiobook or story if they wanted to engage that way with readers?

Khaki: Certainly! I know several writers who’ve done just that — of course Mary E. Lowd, who reads short pieces on her Deep Sky Anchor podcast and recently Madison Scott-Clary started her podcast Makyo Writes, for the same purpose. Oh, and Huskyteer, Altivo Overo and Rob MacWolf have all read their own stories on The Voice Of Dog.

I know some people are uncomfortable with the sound of their own voice, or worry about speech impediments (I have a slight stammer myself), or that they don’t think they’re good enough actors to do character voices and accents.

It takes practice and exercise and a love of learning — much like writing itself! But I’m pretty sure that anyone reading this can make great readings of their stories that are a delight to listen to, if they’re willing to put a little time into refining and practicing.

Nobody starts out great, but as writers, we know that all too well. But it’s fun to do, and very rewarding.

FWG: Would you consider doing voice work for any authors who might still feel too intimidated to record for themselves?

Khaki: That’s one of the purposed for The Voice of Dog! That’s my baby, so I’m selective about the stories I accept; their length and tone in particular.

But I’m in talks with at least one writer, to do an audiobook version of their in-progress novel later this year. And I made an open offer on Twitter regarding the upcoming Oxfurred Comma furry writing convention: if there are writers who want to do a panel that includes a reading of their work, but they’re uncomfortable or uncertain about doing it themselves, I’m happy to do the narration for them, either live or pre-recorded, depending on when their panel is.

I always want consider stories before I narrate them of course, even outside of my podcast. It is, after all, my voice speaking those words, and I wouldn’t want my voice associated with something I don’t stand for. This goes for professional voice-over work I’ve done as well, for commercials and training resources. I’ve turned down paying jobs because there were things in the script that I didn’t want to say.

But I’ve done some 120 episodes of The Voice of Dog now, and I’ve never rejected a story for being “objectionable”. I’ve been amazed at the furry writing scene’s maturity and responsibility, and the breathtaking diversity of perspectives and stories, it’s truly wonderful.

But yes, to your question — yes, I’d certainly consider doing voice work for other authors.

FWG: Any last things you’d like to tell the readers?

Khaki: Getting back in touch with the furry writing community after a decade or so has been so wonderful, and I want to thank you all for being part of that. The young folks and the old folks, the patient and the passionate, the carefree and the contemplative, I’m proud to be among you and make another modest contribution to furry fiction.

I can tell it’s been too long since I retired from writing, because I struggle to find the right words to convey just what you all mean to me. So I’ll take advice I’ve given often myself, and steal someone else’s. In the words of Michael, the angel from The Good Place:

I’ll say this to you, my friend,
with all the love in my heart
and all the wisdom of the universe:
Take it sleazy

We would like to thank Khaki once again for the interview! Be sure to check out The Voice of Dog and if you’d like to hear more of Khaki’s wonderful voice you can check out Cover My Ass where Khaki and his friend K pretend to review a book they haven’t read every week. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

Oxfurred Comma: An Anthropomorphic Literature Convention (October 17th-18th)

Oxfurred Comma Is Comming Soon!

You’ve been hearing about Oxfurred Comma, but now we have all the details! Oxfurred Comma, an online anthropomorphic literature convention, will be taking place on October 17th-18th. We’ll be talking a bit about the convention here, and full details can be found on the Oxfurred Comma Website.

Convention panels will be streamed live on the official FWG Twitch account. We will also be hosting special chats and dealer’s den rooms on the FWG Discord. We have several features, panels, and events to consider submitting to including:

We hope to see many signups for our events, panels, and features. Please be sure to share this with all of your friends, fans of furry fiction, and any other furry you think might be interested. It’s up to us authors to help promote this big event, be sure to do your part. We look forward to seeing you all at the event!

FWG Interview: Ana Valens on Furry, Reporting, and Patreon Guidelines for Adult Content

Welcome back for another FWG Interview! Today’s interview discusses adult content, so those that avoid things relating to erotic content or may be sex averse consider this your content warning before we continue.

Patreon has been cracking down on adult content which could directly affect income streams for furry writers. To help explain the situation and help writers prepare, we interviewed an expert on the subject: FWG member Ana Valens! Not only has she done a lot of reporting on the subject, but she’s also written many reports for mainstream media on the furry community while being a furry herself.

We sat down to discuss these changes to Patreon, her reporting, and her history with the furry community. Enough with the introductions, let’s get to the interview!

FWG: For those that might not know you, tell everyone a little about yourself.

Ana: Hello! Thank you so, so much for having me. My name is Ana Valens. I’m an NSFW reporter for the Daily Dot, a sex worker, an adult content creator, a leatherdyke, and, of course, a furry. I’m also a trans lesbian (she/her pronouns). That’s a lot of identities!

I first started writing professionally around 2012, but I really started to build a career for myself in 2014 when I started writing an LGBTQ column for a friend’s gaming site. In 2017, the Daily Dot brought me on as a freelancer, and it was there that I started to really write the hard-hitting stories about sex, gender, gaming, and trans rights. That’s also where the lion’s share of my reporting on the furry community began, including my piece on Bad Dragon, my guide to fursuits, my vore and giantess porn articles, my explanation on yiffing, etc etc etc.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Ana: I have two answers to this as a fiction writer and a journalist!

For fiction, the most important thing is to create characters that readers care about. They don’t have to be similar to the reader (although I’m a huge advocate of this as a queer writer), but above all, what characters do, say, and feel need to make sense and have some sort of consistent logic, even if it appears illogical at first. I don’t believe good fiction comes from conflict (there are a lot of bad stories with good conflicts and a lot of beautiful stories with no conflict), but rather bringing characters together and seeing how they relate, interact, and grow (or don’t grow). This can be as simple as a main character understanding the world around them, or as complicated as, say, thee political drama between furry monarchs, dukes, and generals in a fantasy world under a scalie invasion. Conflict or not, characters have to have feelings that are understandable and relatable, feelings that flourish through storytelling. Achieve that, and the rest will follow.

As for journalism, a good story has to be newsworthy – that is, it has to speak to some sort of pressing issue or current event that others should know about. A lot of my furry coverage written by and for the furry community discusses issues they should know more about to make informed decisions as community members. Two good examples are my Bad Dragon story and my Mastodon story. My introductory guides to furry topics are technically for those outside the furry community, but they’re still for the community in the sense that they’re resources we can use to help educate non-furs.

In both of these cases, I believe what happens to the furry community both internally and externally is important, and it’s why I cover our community so passionately: because being a furry matters, and what happens to us matters. If you walk in to a furry story with that mindset, you’re halfway to a good story.

FWG: You have written several articles discussing furry topics from the history and issues of Bad Dragon to discussing the dfferences between mursuits and fursuits. What first inspired you to start reporting on furries?

Ana: Ahh, great question. The furry community’s history is so tightly connected with the internet, so as an internet-based reporter, the fandom has always interested me. But the thing that really turned me on to covering the furry community was the queer visual novel Anthrotari, which I wrote about for Kill Screen back in 2016. Anthrotari is an adorable game about the ‘90s queer furry IRC world, and it touches on everything from online connection amid offline isolation to the sort of playful, erotic energy that flowed (and still flows) through queer furry spaces. Just a few months earlier, I had covered Jae Bearhat and Rory Frances’ Little Teeth for Bitch Media, which I adored for its handling on the messiness of queer community (which, by the way, really came through in the full release). Anthrotari spoke to a lot of the same issues around queer belonging that made me gravitate toward Little Teeth in the first place, and so both titles planted that initial interest within me.

But my passion for covering the furry community really came out when I started learning more about the furry world and meeting other furs. So around late 2018 and 2019? I felt an innate sense of belonging among trans feminine furries in particular, like they understood and accepted me. That’s partly because I’m a leatherdyke, and there’s just this feeling of connection that comes between leather and queer furry spaces: we’re “others” ostracized both for our hobbies and interests as well as our systemically marginalized identities. One thing led to another, and well, here I am today!

FWG: Part of why you became a furry yourself was because of the reporting you did on the community. Can you tell us that story and a bit about your fursona?

Ana: I’m a ‘90s kid (‘94 to be exact) who grew up with the internet and knew about the furry community from a very, very young age. Unfortunately, I first learned about furries through anti-furry sentiment on sites like 4chan, Encylcopedia Dramatica, etc. The biggest and earliest “resource” for me was God Hates Furries, which popped up in 2001 and became a well-known anti-furry site during the 2000s. I must’ve stumbled across that site when I was 10 or 11, maybe? And as an impressionable kid struggling with a fuckton of internalized homophobia and transphobia, I believed God Hates Furries – for a time.

That changed dramatically as I started coming out as queer and meeting queer furs in 2015 and 2016. The furries I met were more often than not wonderful, accepting, and non-judgmental people. Reading Little Teeth in 2016 really opened my eyes to how there are many different ways to be a furry, including incredibly queer and political ways, but also aesthetic ones too. I’m far more a fan of Rory Frances’ style than the traditional funny-animals and Don Bluth-esque looks popular during the ‘90s and early 2000s.

So by the time I really started dipping my toe into furry subculture (2019) I had a lot of furry followers who became furry friends, and I fell in love with what I saw in the modern furry fandom: queer inclusion, sexual freedom, plurality in furry aesthetics, creativity and autonomous self-expression, so many other things. I came out proper as a furry this past January, and when quarantine started, I became very close with a number of lovely, wonderful queer and trans furries who really kept me going and gave me social connection when I was at the most risk of isolating myself from others. The furry community still has its problems for sure, but I think many parts of the furry fandom are lovely places to express onself. I certainly feel right at home in the little community I’ve carved out for myself.

As for how I came into creating my own fursona. My friend campmonday does a lot of furry artwork, and I fell in love with a doe girl they created in 2019. Their doe reminded me a lot of myself in certain ways, so I reached out to monday about commissioning a doe girl fursona design for myself. One thing led to another, and that spring, I had my first official fursona.

She’s supposed to be a reflection of myself down to a T: she’s not an idealized version of myself, but more like what I would be like if I was in an anthropomorphic cartoon or comic (Little Teeth? haha), flaws and all. I adore her and the design monday did, it still feels like such a fantastic representation of who I am IRL.

FWG: What is it like not only doing standard reporting but navigating that while doing sex work and creating queer adult content?

Ana: Ooh, great question. It’s as exciting as it is challenging. There are many sex workers in media, but there aren’t many that are out and open about doing sex work. The ones that are out are generally the exception over the rule. Our identities are fluid, too. There are many folks who come out only to withdraw their disclosure for their own safety or privacy. There’s no right way to be a sex worker with a public-facing civilian job, just many different ways to do it, but being bluntly out and open about it is… quite a lot to navigate.

As for the specifics of being a sex worker and an adult creator, it requires strong boundaries between your sex work, your personal life, and your civilian job(s). There’s a lot of threat modeling involved too. Every day I have to ask myself questions like, “what happens if my OnlyFans nudes leak? What happens if harassers find my sex work accounts?” I don’t think I would have come out as a sex worker if I didn’t already have a strong, stable career that could withstand whorephobia from within and without the editorial industry. Games in particular is really bad about this.

FWG: Quite a few furries write for independant news websites strictly about furry news or book reviews. Do you have any suggestions on how to pitch ideas for these sorts of articles to mainstream publications for anyone wanting to branch out?

Ana: Yes! First off, by writing about the furry community independently (whether for an indie publication, Medium, Substack, or even Dreamwidth and Tumblr), you’ve already fought half the battle: building your portfolio. This gives you a strong advantage when pitching publications because you have examples of your writing in action, and, hopefully, proof that you have a trustworthy voice within the community you want to write about (or at least discuss).

Beyond that, do some research into the different publications out there and whether they have prior furry or online subculture coverage. Then, pitch to places that are friendly to new voices: write a 300 to 400 word email to the submission editor detailing your past work, what you want to cover, and why it matters. On the queer and feminist side of things, Bitch Media, Autostraddle, and, of course, Daily Dot are all great picks. In terms of geekdom and gaming coverage that converges with the furry world, Fanbyte, Unwinnable, and Gayming Magazine are all friendly to new voices and pay decent rates as well.

FWG: Let’s move on to our main topic. It’s no secret that there are many erotica writers in the furry fandom. Plenty of these writers use Patreon to help get paid for their writing within the furry community.

Patreon has recently begun to crack down on adult content, even content posted to other websites. You have been reporting on these changes as they happen. Can you discuss why Patreon is doing this?

Ana: I used to believe Patreon’s recent censorship wave all came down to credit card companies and banks dictating what kind of content can be posted where and when on Patreon. I still think that’s the biggest contributing factor, but I don’t think that’s the sole explanation. There are high-risk payment processors out there that Patreon could have partnered with, but chooses not to. And if Patreon really cared, it would find ways to make room for the kind of content it’s now banning, just as it would have found ways to make room for the sex workers it deplatformed.

As Veil Machines’ E-Viction pinpoints so well, Patreon is engaging in something called digital gentrification: The site became popular because it provided adult content creators and sex workers with an avenue to collect money without a middle-man (i.e. a publisher, a studio) facilitating the exchange. Patreon now wants to change its image and branding so it’s influencer-friendly, so it’s cleaning out the porn and remaining sex workers. Now, YouTubers squeamish around hypno smut and murrsuits don’t have to feel uncomfortable using the site! Hooray! /s

TL;DR: Patreon is facing external pressure from its payment processors, but it’s also trying to change its target demographic, so they’re engaging in the same cruel cycle that happens all the time in Silicon Valley: a new start-up says sex workers and adult creators are welcome, raises investment money off our backs, becomes stable enough to no longer require us, spits us out, and invites in a more “respectable” crowd.

FWG: Some might be worried that getting their customers to move off Patreon, where they are already comfortable, might result in a serious loss of support. What can authors do to protect their sources of income through this?

While Patreon is the most popular, should furry writers consider switching to a different platform now to save time building a base there?

Ana: The sad reality is that we don’t know what’s going to happen next. I think Patreon will continue slowly picking its battles by carefully censoring and deplatforming the folks it knows it can get away with censoring and deplatforming: fetish creators, kinky erotica writers, adult artists doing anime content, furry porn writers and artists, etc. If it’s non-normative smut and likely to squick out a random person on the street, it’s a target.

Furry writers on Patreon should book a day to audit their online presence and figure out which platforms are the most important to them financially and socially. Then, use that report to create a backup plan that prepares you for the worst. If you rely on Patreon for most of your income, and if it’s the sole way you communicatee with the majority of your fans, start to branch out and monetize your base elsewhere. Twitter is a hot mess, but it’s where most people are these days, so I highly recommend hopping on there to start. Consider creating a Discord server and inviting your patrons and non-patrons alike to it: that way you can engage in direct communication with your fans and even create monetization solutions via your server. I don’t think it hurts to create a SubscribeStar right now either, although I would continue monetizing your content on Patreon for as long as you can to prevent potential income loss.

One closing thought: When the Tumblr NSFW purge hit, artists and writers that already had a strong following off-site on Patreon, Discord, Twitter, Mastodon instances, etc were in a much better position than those who did not. The key right now is to see where your target demographic hangs out and plant your feet there. But I wouldn’t run away from Patreon quite yet, because the purge process is still very slow: it’s better to be prepared than to uproot suddenly.

We would like to thank Ana once more for sitting down to talk with us! You can keep up with her and her work by following her on Twitter (NSFW). You can also check out her creative writing by checking out her trans lesbian BDSM erotic game Blood Pact on itch.io. We hope this interview was as informative as it was entertaining! Until next time, may your words flow like water.

FWG Interview: Weasel on Furry Publishing, Editing, and Diverse Voices

Welcome to another FWG interview! On Twitter we got requests to interview both publishers and editors, so today we decided to do just that. Today we’ll be sharing an interview with Weasel, owner of Weasel Press, and an experienced editor and writer within the furry fandom. Enough with the introductions, let’s get to the interview!

FWG: For those that might not know you, tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Weasel: My name is Izzy, though most people know me as Weasel. I’ve been a writer for so many years, I’ve already forgotten, and a publisher for about 8 years. I’m a queer, biracial latinx author, and I’m the owner of Weasel Press/Red Ferret Press/Sinister Stoat Press. It’s been a long few years, haha!

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Weasel: That’s a tough one. Characters. They’re the backbone of your story. Worldbuilding can happen at any point, but if you got weak characters, characters who are problematic, your story is going to fall apart. It just will.

I also think representation matters. As a queer Latinx reader, it’s a hard blow when I pick up a book and the characters are coded as straight, cisgender, and white. People of color exist in this world, we deserve to be in media as much as white people are.

The moment I see a book that is white and heteronormative, I’m not as interested.

Make strong characters. Be diverse.

FWG: As you mentioned, you do publishing within the furry fandom. What got you into the publishing scene, and what made you want to become a publisher?

Weasel: You’re asking me to go way back! So, I got into publishing after working with my community college’s art journal. I wanted to do something like it, so I started Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad ones. I released the first issue of that journal in 2012, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel like 2012 every time I look at it.

I did about 3 issues before starting Weasel Press. I had an author ask me if I was ever interested in putting out single-author books and I was like “man, lemme think on it.”

And well, here I am, 70-somethin’ books later.

FWG: You publish some non-furry things at Weasel press, so what drew you into a more niche publishing scene like in furry?

Weasel: The first book we published was Furry. Ribbon and Leviathan by Manna Plourde. I’ve been a furry for years. The exact number I don’t even know, but it’s been a time.

I didn’t know what I wanted to publish when I first started. I knew I wanted furry, I wanted beat generation style work, and I wanted works that were sex-positive.

About 20% of the books we publisher are furry, and I’d like to do more. It’s a touch difficult to do from a funding perspective, but there are ideas that I hope to implement someday.

FWG: You publish a lot more poetry than other publishers within the fandom. Can you talk about that a bit?

Weasel: Poetry is a big thing for me. Poetry is a way of processing. For me, it’s processing trauma. So publishing poetry was more so second nature for me. It’s like “of course, I’m going to publish poetry. ”

I think we have some of the coolest poetry projects on the net right now. Only 2 of those projects are furry, but each book I have is unique and tackles something personal to the author. We publish books on domestic violence, environmental issues, drug addiction, sex, experiences from people of color, trans experiences.

If you’ve not checked out a poetry book from us, you’re missing out, because we have some really gut-punching titles.

FWG: Weasel Press always seems to be an outlet for diverse voices to express themselves. As of May 2020, Weasel press is only accepting works from authors of color,  authors who identify as LGBTQ+, authors with disabilities, and current and former sex workers. Can you talk about why you decided to go that route?

Weasel: I did it because I’m tired of seeing marginalized voices not having a platform. I did it because for a period I was getting submissions from old, straight, white guys. How many of them get published? A lot. And that ain’t what I want anymore. For anyone who has had a book with weasel press in the past, sure I’ll work with you. But new folks? Nah. I’m good.

We need more people of color. We need more queer people. Authors with disabilities. Current and former sex workers. Where are their voices in publishing? For a long time, all I heard was crickets on that front. And I’m tired.

I’m tired because any book I pick up is from a white perspective and that perspective ain’t always for me. it ain’t always for people of color. White people write for white people.

So I made some changes. If you’re a queer author, I want your work. If you’re an author of color, send it my way asap. If you’re an author with a disability, we need your voice. And if you’re a current or former sex worker, we want to work with you.

Representation matters. It took me so many years to realize that. Other publishers should do better, and I don’t want to hear the excuse of “well they just don’t submit to us.” That’s called laziness. Don’t bring that to my table.

FWG: When these diverse writers send you their works, what can they do to help them stand out? What makes a good query to you?

Weasel: That’s a hard question for me. I get so many good queries we can’t take due to our line up being full or our funding just isn’t there. Ultimately, I want works that are real though. I tell every author, be real, be you.

Don’t send me something you think will sell. Give me something you wrote, that has your voice and needs to get out. Give me your fantasy novel that’s been queered up, or give me your horror book from a non-white perspective.

If you’re writing it, love what you’re writing. If you don’t love it, I don’t want it.

FWG: What do you wish more authors knew about the challenges of getting books out and published?

Weasel: So much. The first thing I wish I knew is the amount of money you receive from sales. I knew it wouldn’t be much, but it’s definitely a lot less than I expected.

Put it this way, Weasel Press made $1000 in sales this month. After printing charges and fees and distribution discounts, we maybe got about $300 of that as actual profit. $300 we didn’t have before, but definitely a jump from what I would have expected.

I wish I would have known how much of my job would be administrative as opposed to production.

And I wish I knew how many death threats I’d get beforehand haha

FWG: You have received death threats due to your publishing work? Are you comfortable discussing this with our readers?

Weasel: I’ve received my fair share of threats. None were from the fandom. I’ve had old white guys say they would find me and kill me. I’ve been called one racial slur after another. Most of these are just due to rejection. I haven’t gotten any in a few years so it’s gotten better on that front.

FWG: This segues into our next question. What kind of challenges do you find in not only being a publisher that isn’t white but in publishing diverse voices like you do?

Weasel: A lot of the challenges stem from people who don’t follow our guidelines and don’t meet the requirements. There are the people who believe I’m censoring them because I won’t publish their white narratives.

I’ve had people tell me I’m not a real publisher because of who and what I publish. Even members of this fandom have made a passive remark like that.

I know from my perspective, I’ve felt like some see me as second class or low tier.

I know I’ve had some difficulty recruiting diverse voices. But since the shift in our guidelines, it’s been way easier. I think because of how we started, and how we didn’t have our guidelines explicit like we do now, it’s been a challenge to shift our brand the way we want it. It’s getting there though, slowly but surely.

I haven’t had an issue with the voices we do publish, they’ve all been phenomenal to work with. It’s given us a big positive energy boost and I love it.

FWG: You have multiple imprints related to Weasel Press. Can you explain why you chose to go this route over keeping everything under the Weasel Press banner?

Weasel: It’s an organizational thing for me as well as a branding thing. I didn’t know there were some genres I wanted to explore until I received more of it. Like horror, or sex-focused works. With horror, I was able to create that brand, logo, and tailor it to horror. The imprints all function the same as Weasel Press, but I wanted to be able to make it fun, to create an image that says “horror” or “sexually explicit.” it gets tough when genres blend, but Howl and I work it out.

FWG: Outside of publishing, you do also are an editor. What has been your favorite anthology or book that you’ve done editing for so far?

Weasel: I have several. I’ve loved working on all of our books, but if there’s a few that stand out, it’s the titles below (not all of them are furry):

Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones -This is my baby. I started with this journal, and I can’t let it die. It’s been with me since the beginning and I’ve loved watching it grow each time we put an issue out.

Tales in Liquid Time by Neil S. Reddy – I didn’t know what I was doing at all. But this book was one of our firsts and I look at it so much! We’ve come so far from 2014, but I’ll never forget how fun it was with the strange stories in that book.

#ohmurr! – I can’t not talk about this book. This is such a big moment for me. We blended kink and sex-focused photography with fandom businesses, short fiction, furry experiences, and it was the most fun I’d had in all the years I’ve put out an anthology. Check out #ohmurr! if you’re looking for something different and sex-focused because the magazine is an experience. #justsaying

FWG: Any last thing you want to tell our readers?

Weasel: Don’t let anyone tell you what to write. Write your truth.

We would like to thank Weasel once more for answering all of our questions! In lieu of promoting himself, Weasel asked us to promote recent Weasel Press releases. #ohmurr is currently available for purchase and more information can be found on Twitter @ohmurrmag (NSFW). What Makes a Witch, written by Linnea Capps, has also recently released and will have an audiobook coming soon. It is available for purchase here. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

FWG Monthly Newsletter: August 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! We’ll keep the introduction short and get right down to business.

Oxfurred Comma, an online convention for furry literature, will be taking place from October 17th to 18th in conjunction with Furry Book Month. We’ll have forms to fill out for those interested in hosting panels as well as participating in our dealer’s den out to you in the next couple of weeks. These will be posted on the FWG Blog and social media.

You do not have to be an FWG member to participate in this convention either. We want to help all anthro writers especially with how this year has hurt sales. Any writers seeing this should be sure to sign up and invite their writing friends!

Outside of this, we have been having internal discussions among FWG officers about potential changes to the requirements for joining the guild. We understand times are changing and many authors are using platforms like Patreon and finding success. We also know other avenues of writing can be distinctly furry, like comics writing or visual novels.

We have opened up discussions on this topic and hope to receive your feedback. These include rough drafts on what new requirements might be. Please keep in mind that forum posts and our Discord channel for FWG feedback will be the easiest ways for us to keep an eye on your comments as Telegram messages can move quickly. Let’s get this discussion started!

As a final note, we would like to remind everyone that we opened our promotional tip line last month as it has not received much attention. You can find it on the website or at this link. If you have a new story posted, a new book coming out, literally any writing news you’d like us to boost on social media PLEASE use this form: we want to help support you!

With guild business out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! We featured another two members this month on the blog for interviews that we hope you check out. We’ve also had requests to interview anthology editors as well as any members with experience in producing audiobooks. If you’d qualify and want to be featured, contact our social media manager!

We saw a few new releases cross our path this month you might want to check out including:

We also hunted down a book currently up for pre-order:

Remember, we now have our Promotion Tip Line to submit to if you have new releases coming out, so don’t hesitate to fill that out so we can feature your book in our next newsletter!

Currently the Furry Writers’ Market lists these markets are open:

We’ve been getting a lot of new guild members lately! Let’s all welcome James Hudson, Dan “Spike” Gilmore, Ana Valens, JT Bird, J.S. Hawthorne, and TinyPrancingHorse! We’ve had more new members this year than in a long time, it’s been so exciting!

One last thing: the guild has been very vocal about this on social media, but we would like to remind all of our readers once more how vital the USPS is not only for small business and rural communities but for Furry Publishing. The works we all currently enjoy and the publishers we love to work with may cease to exist without it. Please make sure to do all you can to help defend the USPS! Until next month, keep staying safe and keep writing.

  • FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Interview: FuzzWolf on Furry Publishing

One of the biggest facets of getting a book published is, well, publishers! While many authors self-publish these days, the furry community is lucky to have several publishers and imprints focused on publishing anthropomorphic fiction.

Today we’re sharing an interview with FuzzWolf, an FWG member and the current owner of FurPlanet. We discuss many aspects of furry publishing, what drives book sales, and how to promote yourself as an author. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

FWG: For‌ ‌those‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌not‌ ‌know‌ ‌you,‌ ‌please‌ ‌tell‌ ‌our‌ ‌readers‌ ‌a‌ ‌bit‌ ‌about‌ ‌yourself.‌

FuzzWolf: Hi. Well, my name’s FuzzWolf. Most people just call me Fuzz. I’ve been a furry since 1998. I’m originally from Scotland, but my family moved to the US when I was 8 so I don’t have the accent anymore.

In 2005 I moved to Dallas, TX to live with my boyfriend. It’s 15 years later and now we’re married and have a house so I’d say that worked out.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

FuzzWolf: Lots of different things, it depends. Characters you care about is the main one. You don’t always have to like them, but they have to be interesting and the reader has to be invested in whether they succeed or fail in what they’re trying to do.

There should be a clear goal, something the main character wants to do, and then there are obstacles in their way preventing them from that goal.

Another thing I enjoy in a good story is a degree of worldbuilding. It depends on the story whether the worldbuilding is very present, and the world itself is a character of sorts, or whether it’s more subtle worldbuilding where the story is more about the characters.

FWG: You work in publishing in the furry scene, so let’s dive into that! What got you into the publishing side of the fandom?

FuzzWolf: I had taken a “desktop publishing” class in college in the early 90s so there was some level of interest there long before I got into fandom publishing.

Like most publishers in the fandom, I started off as a writer. I was published in FurNation Magazine. FurNation was based here in Dallas so I picked up one of my contributor copies in person, and the owner showed me around the equipment he used to make the magazines. I was fascinated by it, and I started helping out. I volunteered with FN for a bit, doing layouts and making magazines and comics by hand.

After I was laid off in 2007, I decided I wanted to start my own publishing business. By the way, this is the exact opposite of what all the “start your own business” guides will tell you to do. Don’t start a business because you’re done with corporate America after getting laid off. You have few resources to work with and you’re not in the right headspace. I got a new job later that year, but the passion for publishing was still there so I moved forward.

Eventually, I ended up acquiring FurPlanet from its former owner and officially took over in March 2008.

FWG: What kind of unique challenges do you face as a publisher of what might be considered niche literature?

FuzzWolf: There are probably as many benefits as there are challenges. I suppose the biggest one is audience size. As with the rest of society, only a small percentage of people read books, and you cut that number down even more when working within a small niche like furry. So, a furry company is likely to hit a growth ceiling sooner because there are only so many furries out there.

However, like a lot of niche interests, the people who are into furry are really into furry. And the furries who buy books are super supportive of their publishers.

I wouldn’t call this a challenge so much as it is a difference between mainstream and furry publishers. For mainstream publishers, the majority of their book sales are going to be sold online at that big river dot com company, and maybe some through traditional bookstores. A minority of our sales are through those avenues. We sell almost all of our books directly to consumers without an intermediary, either via our website or face to face at conventions. That means more work for us, either packing and shipping online orders, or all the work that goes into dealing at a convention, but it means we interact with our customers directly and I think that’s a positive thing.

FWG: FurPlanet puts out several anthologies a year, but also several novels. Do you get a lot of pitches for novels? If so, do you publish many of them?

FuzzWolf: We have it on our website that we’re not officially open for novel submissions so we don’t get that many. Most of the novels we publish are new books from authors we have already been working with. I would like to open up to additional authors at some point. It’s just a matter of time being available to do so.

FWG: Going back to anthologies for a moment, how do these compare in sales to novels themselves?

FuzzWolf: A couple of years ago, I went through our sales data back to 2006 to answer that question. I found that in general, anthologies sell only about 1/3 what novels and novellas do.

FWG: There’s plenty of furry writers who focus on getting stories into anthologies. With those numbers, would you suggest writers consider focusing on getting their own novel out there to help increase their prestige or name recognition?

FuzzWolf: I enjoy short stories, and I think they serve an important function for writers. They give authors a chance to work with an editor and go through that process of having someone from outside their friend group review their work, and work with them to make it the best story it can be. Anthologies also give experience in writing and revising to a deadline and writing towards a specific theme. Submit stories to enough anthologies and you’ll get to write about a lot of different things. Broadening your writing beyond your preferred genre is a critical step in a writer’s development.

They also get your name in front of a publisher. I know I’ve personally advised authors I’ve seen write amazing short stories that I want to see their novel when they finish it.

Also, in both mainstream and furry writing, short stories are how a lot of authors build an audience and get their name out there. You can also repurpose the stories after their exclusivity period has expired, depending on the particular contract. This gives you content for your various galleries (FA, SF, etc), and if a market is open to reprints and you happen to have a previously-published story which fits then you can get paid twice for it.

Even if you’re not submitting to anthologies, I still think writing short stories and posting online is good for building your skills and growing an audience. Even writing to a weekly prompt achieves some of that diversity of stories.

I’d recommend submitting short stories and posting them online while also working on a longer-term project, like having a novel idea brewing in your head.

FWG: FurPlanet puts out ROAR and FANG annually. Are there any challenges getting an anthology series out yearly? Differences between these anthologies and one-off anthologies?

FuzzWolf: There are definitely challenges with keeping a regular title going, especially if you’re trying to keep them releasing at the same time each year. We aim to release FANG and ROAR at Anthrocon every year, but this year we missed that mark due to COVID 19 throwing the world into chaos.

With a one-off anthology there is less of an issue if you have to postpone a release since there isn’t a second volume that has to come out in 12 months that may also be affected.

There is also the matter of editors. With our regular series, we have the advantage of working with an editor for several volumes over a period of time, and they improve their skill with each volume and learn our expectations. There can be a few bumps in the road early on in a working relationship so the one-off anthologies have that. We take a chance when we do a one-off because it doesn’t have name recognition going back years like our regular anthologies do. We just have to hope that the theme resonates with readers.

FWG:A lot of furries say you have to write or draw sex to be successful in the fandom. You’re in a unique position to know about this directly. Do adult novels sell better than those for general audiences?

FuzzWolf: Speaking very broadly, our adult books do sell better than our general audience books. However, there are a ton of caveats to that.

For one thing, in the mainstream book trade Adult Fiction simply means books for grownups, as opposed to Young Adult or children’s book categories. In the fandom, we label books as adult in part due to how conventions define them. If a book has a couple of explicit scenes, even if the sex is not the point of the book, we have to label that adult. But in an actual bookstore, they don’t have a big warning sticker plastered on American Gods, for example.

I’ve seen books with a lot of sex sell moderately, and books we marketed as YA sell extremely well. You can be a non-adult writer and have successful books. You just have to tell a good story and find your audience.

FWG: How important is cover art to selling a furry novel? Do you think employing well-known artists in a fandom that tends to be visually focused helps sell books?

FuzzWolf: I cannot overstate how important cover art is to selling books, any books. The audience for each genre has certain expectations when it comes to covers. This is where things like minimalist typographic covers for science fiction and literary fiction, shirtless men in kilts in romance, and painted castles in fantasy come from.

In general, furry readers want to see a furry on the cover. Don’t go abstract, even if it’s beautiful. If you are trying to sell primarily to furries, you have to have furries on your book cover.

A well-known artist will help with sales. Not only for their highly developed skill, but because they will often assist with promoting the book. Here’s a tip, always credit your illustrators. Do so in the book, and also in your marketing material. If you tweet the cover of your book, include your artist’s Twitter handle. They will often retweet it, and very often their following will be bigger than yours.

I’ve heard writers complain sometimes about furry being such a visual community, but I’d like to stress that artists should be your friends when it comes to selling your book. Artists and writers can and should work together.

I’ll also add that you don’t have to go with the most popular artists if that is out of your budget. You can find a lot of skilled artists who are not that well known, and a book cover commission can offer less well-known artists access to a new audience.

To summarize my feelings on covers, they say you should never go cheap on a mattress or a pair of shoes. When it comes to books, put your budget into your cover. It will help.

FWG: What about books having interior pictures? Is this worth doing for most releases?

FuzzWolf: This has been a point of discussion among some of us before. I think what it comes down to is if you want interior illustrations because they’re cool, or you really want to see your characters illustrated then it can’t hurt.

In my experience, it doesn’t help sales though. If you have a set budget and are weighing between interior illustrations or a better cover then I’d put the money into the cover, another editor pass, or another type of marketing.

FWG: Can you give any insights on the process of getting artwork for books for our readers who might be curious or self publish?

FuzzWolf: Look at the books which have covers you really like or that drew you to the book. You can hire that same artist or someone with a style that appeals in the same way.

An important thing to remember is that a great piece of art and a great book cover are not the same things. Sometimes a piece will work as a standalone illustration, but won’t be appropriate for a book cover.

Another point to ask is if your artist has any experience with typography and design. Are they sending you a cover with your title and name on it already? Or are they just doing the art? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to find a graphic designer to work on the actual layout for you.

On that note, I’d also advise hiring a typographer for your interior layout. There are subtle nuances to typography that can affect the visual appeal and readability of your book. It seems easy, but a lot of time goes into it, and I consider a worthwhile investment.

FWG: What would you say is the one thing you wish all writers knew about publishers and publishing books?

FuzzWolf: While a deep love of books is usually what drives someone to publishing, you’ll have to deal with a lot of less fun things too. Contracts, accounting, taxes, printers, marketing. If you can accept that challenge, you’ll be in a better position to be successful.

FWG: Do you have any last thing you’d like to tell our readers?

FuzzWolf: Please continue to order books and comics from all the furry publishers and our community’s independent sellers. You can support furry-owned businesses and the post office at the same time!

We would like to thank FuzzWolf once again for answering all of our questions! FurPlanet will be having an online book launch for Kyell Gold’s final volume of Love Match. The book releases August 25th and the book launch will take place this coming weekend. You can read about the book and pre-order it on their website and find details on the book launch here.

We hope this insight into furry publishing was informative to all of our readers. If you have ideas or suggestions on what kinds of interviews we should feature next, please contact our Social Media Manager. Until next time, may your words flow like water.