Today we hear from Goal Publications. This interview took place before their recent news about their potential closure at the end of the year.
We hope you’ll have a read about what they think makes a good furry story, and what they have enjoyed about publishing furry books. Please consider supporting Goal in what may be their last few months – as any support to them will also help the wonderful writers they publish.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and the publisher you are representing.
My name is Sean, and I’m the owner of Goal Publications. We are a queer-owned press located out of Connecticut, USA, and have published authors from five continents. We tend to focus on furry stories where the fact that these characters are animal-people makes some sort of difference in the story. This can be anything from a change in social customs, to clothing, to physical traits and abilities.
What is your favourite thing about the furry fandom?
The creativity in this fandom has never ceased to amaze me, whether its through writing, visual media, music, or something else entirely.
What made you decide to get involved with the furry publishing scene?
I’ve been editing freelance for over ten years now, starting within the furry fandom. From there it was a natural progression to working on editing anthologies, which turned into starting my webzine, which turned into starting a publishing house to contain that zine when it turned physical. That transition happened in 2015.
What do you believe makes a good story?
This is a hard question, because it’s such a subjective thing. That’s why so many of our decisions come down to “is it right for our market?”
As for something more tangible than that, a good story should first have something that establishes the setting, a main character, and some sort of stakes, all within the first few pages. More established authors can get away with a longer setup, but newer authors will need to earn the trust of their readers first. Give them something that lets them know they can expect some sort of payoff in the end.
What are some of the biggest challenges with publishing in a relatively niche market?
The biggest hurdle is the number of readers in a community that values visual media exponentially over written media, and thus the lack of sales. This forced us to be a lot more cautious with the books we do take, and the risks we take with it. Every financial decision we make is a gamble, from what book we take, the cover art we commission, the convention we choose to attend or not, etc. Any one of these decisions could be what forces us to close, all because reader-base isn’t guaranteed.
What are some of the best parts of publishing furry books?
I think this is where the niche market shines. We are able to more directly interact with the authors, editors, and readers than a larger market. It allows us to share how passionate we are about the titles and how proud of our authors and editors we are. It allows us to get to know our readers and be able to personally recommend titles. And it allows us to have more casual interactions with writers that could one day write a book for us.
What is the ideal writer to work with like?
An ideal writer for us would be one that both is open to criticism, while at the same time is willing to defend the parts of their work they feel strongly about. It creates a dialogue that, in the end, really does create the strongest story, and instils the most amount of trust between us.
Novels vs Anthologies. Which do you prefer working on, and how do they compare in terms of sales?
Novels all the way. With only one or two exceptions, novels far outweigh our anthologies in sales. They are also a lot easier for us to work on. Working on five 6,000-word short stories takes longer and is more draining for us than working on a 120k word novel, just because of the hard stops and starts involved (due to the different writing styles, different plots, just the different stories as a whole). Add this to the extra contracts and multiple authors… Team novel for sure.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about the process of publishing, either specific to furry publishing or generally?
In general, the biggest misconception seems to be that authors send us in our stories, and we rake in all this money while authors are getting pennies. I can probably name the number of books we have on one hand that we aren’t underwater on.
Within the fandom, because we have a lot of authors not experienced working with editors, one of the biggest misconceptions I find is that authors think editors are there to take over their story—sometimes to the point of stealing it. That’s just not true, and those editors that try such a thing should flat-out not be editors.
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?
Covers are huge. Potentially customers are typically not even going to pick up a book to read more about it if they don’t find the cover appealing. It needs to fit the theme of the book, needs to attract the eye, and most importantly in this community, it has to have some sort of furry character on it. No furry character, and it’s very difficult to get those walking by at a convention or browsing the online catalog to stop and go further.
Is there anything you would like to see more of in furry fiction?
Furry fiction has become a lot more well-rounded in genre and general story styles than it has a few years ago, but one thing that has always been lacking is a larger spread of marginalized voices. This issue has been slowly progressing over the last year or two, but we need submissions more Black and Indigenous authors, more trans and non-binary authors, and more!
What has been your favourite book to work on recently? Why?
We’ve been working on the sequel to Frances Pauli’s Throwback, currently called Primal, and it’s a super fun book. More than that, Frances is definitely one of the best authors to work with. Having a good working relationship with authors is honestly just as important to us as working with a good book, because with that good relationship, even an okay book can become a favorite.
Tomorrow we start up with Oxfurred Comma, but we’ll also be featuring another one of our wonderful writers (who will actually be doing a couple of panels on Sunday!) We hope you’ll join us for both the next blog post and Oxfurred Comma.