The furry writing community is fortunate to have a variety of publishers to provide the community. The past 18 months without conventions and the bulk of their sales have of course been difficult for so many of them, but they are an important part of our community and deserve our support.
Today, we hear from Armoured Fox Press – who can also be found on Twitter.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and the publisher you are representing.
My name is Tarl “Voice” Hoch. I am a writer and editor both inside and outside of the fandom. I am one of the four hosts of Fangs & Fonts – a writing podcast – , and also write for the online dating sim ‘Hentai Diaries’.
I am the owner of Armoured Fox Press, which is a Canadian small press specializing in Anthropomorphic and Anime fiction.
What is your favourite thing about the furry fandom?
I would have to say the fact that I have made lifelong friends in the fandom. They started out being my friends because they were furries and it was a good introduction, and are they are now my friends because they are good people who I can trust. The fact they are furries is just the cherry on top.
What made you decide to get involved with the furry publishing scene?
After I edited my first anthology (Abandoned Places), I started thinking about what it would be like to be a publisher. I mean, I had been a writer, now an editor, why not publisher? Plus at the time, Canada only had a distribution company and no furry publisher to represent us Canuk furs. What I didn’t realize at the time was just how much work and time it would be…
What do you believe makes a good story?
Strong, relatable characters with an interesting story hook. It needs to engage the reader and keep them interested. It is said that there are two different kinds of writers, those who are good storytellers, and those that are good writers. Stephen King is an example of a good storyteller, hence his success.
What are some of the biggest challenges with publishing in a relatively niche market?
I think the biggest is that the furry publishing world has to do with a lot of the attitudes of the writers. We’ve seen things like payment and such come up over the years and a lot of people compare the furry publishing world to the big publishers like Tor and Penguin instead of comparing them to other small presses. I think part of that issue is that people don’t realize just how small furry publishing companies are, and because of that, seem to either not know, or don’t care, about the details of how small businesses are run/maintained. That, and most don’t try to publish in small press markets outside the fandom and thus don’t know that most small presses only do contributor copies, if at all.
Furry publishing is a unique thing in the world of fandoms. You don’t have small pubs publishing Star Trek novels, Dr. Who novels, etc. The only other fandoms that come close are the Lovecraft and Anime fandoms, and the Anime publishing world is relatively super new. This is something I think we should be quite proud of.
What are some of the best parts of publishing furry books?
Getting to know the writers. Be it at conventions, during panels, or talking online, there is a level of passion that furry writers have that is infectious. There is nothing more wonderful than talking to someone at a convention while they try to decide on what to purchase. They are like kids in candy stores, and it’s always a pleasure to help them discover a new favourite or talk about ones you sold them last year that they enjoyed.
What is the ideal writer to work with like?
I’ve worked with my share of amazing authors over the years and to me, the ideal writer is one who is open to critiques, and if they disagree, handles it professionally. Most disagreements can be handled with a discussion as long as both parties are civil and understanding. That and patience are really the two things I look for. Publishing is not an instantaneous process, and someone who understands that and is willing to wait (within reason) is a blessing.
Novels vs Anthologies. Which do you prefer working on, and how do they compare in terms of sales?
That’s a tough one. Personally, I prefer anthologies as I find them easier to go through, though the logistics of payment/contracts/etc are more of a hassle. Novels sell far more than anthologies, which is why I think other publishers in the fandom have reduced the number of anthologies they do, but I think it’s a good way to get an author’s name out there and introduce people to their work. Think of it as a business card, literary style.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about the process of publishing, either specific to furry publishing or generally?
Cost and time. I often get people submitting novel queries and then asking me a day or two later if they are accepted or not. There is a process which we use to go through our slush pile and it can take us a month or two to get back to people depending on what we think of their initial chapters. As for cost, I sort of mentioned that earlier. Basically, there are small things that come into play when it comes to publishing a book that you don’t really think about until you are dealing with it. These can be the shipping cost for contributor copies, misprints, additional staff, etc.
It’s always said “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but just how important is cover art to the success of a book?
Cover art is very important. A good cover with good art can make or break a book. A good example of this was an author submitted a press package to a fairly well-known online news site. They posted the cover as well as the blurb about the book, giving it a little promo. All of the comments were criticizing the artwork (specifically, of all things, the character’s chins). No one cared about the story, all they cared about was the cover art.
Good artwork will draw a reader in, and people have bought books simply because the cover art appealed to them. Certain genres also have certain styles of covers and if you write a fantasy action adventure and have the naked torso of a man on the cover, people are going to assume it’s either romance or erotica.
Is there anything you would like to see more of in furry fiction?
Hmmm… good question. I would like to see animals we don’t normally see all that often, or at all. Also, I would like to see more stories that take place outside of the United States. Some of my favourite furry literature are ones that take place in other countries and explore other cultures.
What has been your favourite book to work on recently? Why?
A Swordmaster’s Tale. The stories in it are absolutely some of the best I have read and people really have given each story a unique spin. There is something for everyone in that anthology and any person who grew up loving swords will love it I think. There is a real potential for other anthologies along this vein and I look forward to seeing what people bring to the table for those.
Writers and readers are not always aware of the inner workings of publishers, so we hope this has provided a bit of insight into the process. A few other publishers will be pitching in with their thoughts over the course of the month, but tomorrow we’re back to one of the furry fandom’s many talented authors.