We have finally gotten back and have rested after Capital City Fur Con (https://capitalcityfurcon.org/). It was a first-year con, and to put it simply, there were some bumps along the way. The convention ended up a little shy of 400 attendees, which from my experience, really isn't bad for a first-year con! It seems as though they have good plans for next year, so we'll see what happens.
Harrisburg is right around a 5 hour trip. In an effort to conserve costs this year, we left late Thursday night and got there Friday morning. We probably could have left a couple hours later and focused on sleeping more, but trying to get sleep before a convention is always a challenge for us. The drive was uneventful.
Friday - Setup
Because we didn't get there Thursday, Friday is the same as the setup day, so this will be combined.
We had several new items for our setup this convention, which included more vertical book displays, a new banner stand with a much larger banner (if you remember, ours broken during the last convention), and our own table cloths. The table cloths and book displays both were quick and easy to setup, but we ran into a slight issue with the banner stand. Nothing major, but things that we'll have to get used to.
We were in the very back of the dealer's den. We were also the only ones against that back wall. The convention played a lot of roulette with tables at the last second, so we were left with an empty table on either side of us. We also had a both in front of us that was very tall (very nice people, though), but our banner stand was able to sit against the wall and go just a bit taller, so it worked out in the end. Overall we are happy with how things looked.
Friday – Sales
Going into this convention, we had zero idea what to expect for sales. We say that a lot, partially because our business is still in a rapid state of growth and everything is a surprise, and that we still haven't been to a lot of different conventions, but also being a first-year con fairly close to Anthrocon, we really had no idea what to expect.
Thrill of the Hunt ended up being the title of the morning, with nearly half of our copies going out the door in the first hour of the den opening. We brought seven, so we're not talking about a whole box of books here, but still a decent amount for an anthology at this size convention. By the end of the convention, Thrill of the Hunt did end up in second place for sales, so it was a pretty good convention for that title.
We talked to a good amount of people, someone went home with the entire Tristan series (minus the final book that comes out in March), and we gave out a lot of first-chapter samples. The day ended being my highest-grossing Friday yet, which is nice, though with how fast things are growing for us, every convention is going to keep beating other conventions for awhile.
Saturday certainly had some busy spurts. We hadn't sold any of our "Books With Character" / "Oopsy" books on Friday (books that our printer messed up covers on, so we sold them for a decent discount), but we did sell about a third of them over the course of Saturday, which was great. As usual, Symphony of Shifting Tides clawed itself back to the top of our sales list, a place it held for the rest of the convention. The day ended as our highest-grossing Saturday yet (again). The den also closed an hour earlier than usual due to scheduling issues, and we tend to get a small rush of sales at the end of a Saturday, so we have no idea how that affected things.
Sunday was interesting. As usual, we were dead in the start of the day, and then came a few rapid-fire sales. By a couple hours into the day, about a third of the tables had either packed up and left or were in the process of packing up, so we aren't quite sure if that affected sales or not. My late-day Sundays usually end up mostly dealer/staff/artist sales, and this was no different. This Sunday certainly wasn’t beating any records, but it did gross us enough to put it right up there with our highest-grossing con in general, as well grossing enough to make back a lot of expenses. We're still at the point in our business life where conventions are a loss, and are more of a marketing tool as sales continue to grow, but it's getting better and better each convention.
First-off, we would like to say that our "Quick Facts" cards were the MVP of this convention, and have ben a huge factor in our last few conventions. Without these cards, we probably would have cut our sales by about a third. These things have been so handy in talking to people (and make it so we don't have to just sit there and explain every book in detail, letting them shop in peace). We also had a suiter take pictures of several books for their sibling, who wasn't there and wanted a book. Would have been much harder to do without those cards.
Other Symphony of Shifting Tides selling the most and Thrill of the Hunt being in second, we honestly couldn't tell you what the most-wanted genre this convention was. Sales were very spread out. We did get more requests for more F/F stuff, erotic or not (and we did sell a fair number of Beyond Acacia Ridge to support that), but it's something we certainly need more of in the future!
We also did run into a handful of people who still have not even heard of published furry literature before. It's nice to be able to talk to those people and show just how much talent fandom writers have.
Not too many final thoughts to be had here this convention. Other than forgetting a couple of things (such as our main supply of business cards), we've been getting far better at preparing earlier and having to scramble less.
Our next con is Fur the More in March, and we have four new releases for there (some of which are open for pre-order now), including:
Hopefully we see you there!
We've sent out the last of the standalone submission acceptance/rejection emails! We have a couple of solicited manuscripts we're still waiting on, but other than that, if you've sent a manuscript in and have not received an email before today, please check!
And with that, a quick announcement for 2020 submissions.
As we continue to grow, we have to keep adjusting what our priorities are in the stories we accept. First and foremost our goal is to take in unique and wonderful stories with diverse voices that we think many readers will and enjoy. Beyond that, however, we need to start taking a closer look at two things: marketability and marketing.
For marketability, if you take a look at our submission form, we now have a new field option that says, "Sell Your Story in as Few Words as Possible". When we interact with a potential reader at a convention, we're only going to get a few seconds to try and sell that person on a book. After that, while they might still listen, it's likely the story will seem too complex and they will be much less likely to buy it. We have a couple of stories in our collection right now that, while they are great stories and I would recommend them to pretty much everyone, don't get as much attention, because they are so much harder to describe in those few words. While your submission next year won't be heavily judged on if you in particular can come up with that sales pitch, it will be heavily judged if neither of us can.
For marketing, while there's nothing new added to the form, we'll be paying much more attention to your own self-marketing. Here are the easiest ways you can improve your marketing (if you're not doing them already):
2020 is going to be another great year for us, and the next post you see on here is going to be announcing several of the titles you can expect to see next year!
To start things off, this is us reminding people we have a Ko-fi account! You can send a couple bucks our way for a coffee. We're trying to work from a place other than our home office once a week to keep our sanity, so anything helps.
Anyway, for those that have seen, starting at this past convention, we've begun adding tips to our checkout screen. We don't make much off of it; for example, this past con we made just about the same amount as we paid in Square fees.
Why, you ask?
While we plan to go into more detail during our "Behind the Scenes of Furry Literature" panels, it comes down to this: furry publishing is very much a labor of love. It is a very low-margin business, meaning we make very little on the books we sell. Some of these titles we make next to nothing on. However, we truly believe in what we do, and it's why we continue to do it.
Making these books takes a lot of work. Just factoring in accepted manuscripts, I personally put in well over $1,000 worth of work into each title (if you take what we'd charge to edit and typeset each book into account, and we don't even charge that much compared to other freelance editors). That doesn't even factor in that we pay for cover art, pay for stock, pay to sell the books at conventions, and pay for other things that come up.
On average, we make about $2.50 on a full-price book. We sell 100 copies and we've probably made back what we spent on cover art, and a small dent in paying for stock (not to mention a lot of these copies are NOT likely sold at full price). So that's a lot of hours of free labor that's never going to get paid.
While tipping, just like getting me a coffee via our Ko-fi page above, is certainly not expected by anyone, it very much helps us keep doing what we're doing. Even if it's a dollar here or there, or purchasing an extra book than you were planning, everything is very, very appreciated.
If Weebly gets it together and adds a tipping option on here, we will certainly go forth with that as well. But who knows when that will happen.
*dusts off the blog section of the website*
Hello all! We’ve just returned from our first Camp Tiny Paws (www.tinypawscon.org), and it was an excellent convention! Though if you follow my Twitter, you probably are aware we had a good time. The convention ended up at 273 attendees, which while that was technically a slight drop from the previous year, the convention seems to have a good base for growth in the future. A perfect storm of things seemed to happen to several people prior to the con, which left about four tables in the Dealer's Den empty.
I'm going to break these posts up into a handful of sections, for consistency!
Danbury is about 1.75 hours from us. Just out of range to be a commutable convention, but a short enough distance that the round trip plus going to a couple stores in the area requires less than half a tank of gas. Meant also we didn't have to leave until after noon, so that was helpful.
We decided late into the season we wanted to go for Thursday. Every time I say I'm going to setup on Friday morning I end up swapping things around last-minute and going in for Thursday. Yes it means we can set our table up on our own schedule and relax for the rest of the night, but it means we pay for another hotel night, and we seem to run into a problem every Thursday. This convention's problem came when trying to setup my banner. I stupidly stood on a chair (which if any dealers have sat on the padded conference room chairs in these dens, they know that the support is basically gone), so the chair fell over and sent me toppling into my table. I broke my banner stand (though it still managed to stand for the rest of the con), and we spilled two very full Starbucks coffees, ruining one of my display books and making me have to reprint a couple fact cards, which luckily wasn't a huge issue. It was a bummer, but things ironed themselves out quickly enough.
Going in we knew that we technically had what I would call the most difficult table spot in the den. We faced a wall with a garbage can, and to our left was the back corner of the room, farthest away from the door. To combat this, the next banner we're ordering will be double-sided.
Also an issue was that this was our first convention with two tables. The extra space was definitely needed, though for the first time, I didn't make a full Photoshop mock-up of where everything was going to go. It created a bit of confusion and caused setup to take longer, but ultimately we're happy with how things looked. We are looking to make some decent adjustments for our next convention, though.
In our Gen 3 setup arrangement period (Gen 1 being when I was only an editing company, and Gen 2 being when we had less titles at our table than fingers on one hand, and no merch), Friday has been our slowest day. Despite the fact that I've grown far better and more confident in my online marketing, most people don't know we're at these conventions, or that we exist in general, so we don't have people seeking us out on Friday. Fridays at cons are people coming around and seeing what's in the den, taking our business card and some first-chapter samples, and potentially coming back later in the convention. Sales were fairly light, but if you look at the number of attendees versus other conventions, it still wasn't awful.
Saturday started out pretty busy for us. We sold most of our copies of Symphony of Shifting Tides on Saturday, because a super-diverse cast of characters + fantasy = the book that most people seem to want. There were times when dealers were the only people in the room, but that's to be expect from such a small convention, where the dealers themselves make up a notable percentage of the entire convention attendance. Things picked up, and by the end of the day, we'd hit the highest amount of gross sales we've ever had on Saturday (though only by a slight margin).
Sunday was when the action happened. Despite several slow periods, Sunday was when we got the most number of people coming back and saying they've read the first-chapter samples, and were ready to purchase the full book (and sometimes others). We also had our first instance of someone reading part of book one of a series, then coming back and buying books two and three while they were there. Not the first time we've sold all available books in a series at once, but the first time they'd taken time to read a chunk of one at the con! In the end, we were $10 short of making this day our highest-grossing day of all time.
If you've been following our Twitter, you'll notice we started doing a bundle deal for conventions—our "Intro to Furry Lit" bundles. This contains one of our new reusable bags filled with a copy of A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature, one anthology of their choice, and one Pocket Shot of their choice for $25 (plus or minus for a more or less expensive item). Several potential buyers expressed it was a really cool idea, but we only had a couple takers on the actual bundle deal. It doesn't cost us anything to have it exist, so it's something we'll continue doing for future conventions.
The biggest genre of interest for this convention ended up being "fantasy". Symphony of Shifting Tides is 2/1 for selling out at this point, which tells me there's definitely a good, active market for fantasy, especially magical fantasy (compared to high fantasy, though that still had some good interest, just not a lot in the way of sales). We'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more fantasy in our submission pile in the future.
Unsurprisingly as well, customers were yearning for more transgender representation in stories, as well as more lesbian representation. We only have one of each at this time, and we NEED to have more. Our submissions are open until November 1st, so pleasepleaseplease, submit those stories to us!
While we still had our normal group of people who all but ran from our table when they figured out they sold books, I'd say we had a smaller percentage of that than usual.
As we have mentioned on Twitter, Camp Tiny Paws 2019 sits now at our second-highest-grossing convention of all times (only topped by AnthrOhio 2019 that beat it by a small margin, albeit with 1000 more attendees). What we didn't mention on Twitter, Camp Tiny Paws 2019 is officially our most profitable convention to date, and the convention where we've sold the highest number of books. This was also the first convention where our gross sales managed to pay for our hotel, tables, registration, and cost of gas. We still have a long way to go before conventions become actually profitable, but we're making bigger and bigger strides. I also feel like I have a far, far better understanding of this business than I did even a few months ago. I will continue to learn more, and continue to better my business, and myself.
It's been a little while since we've made a post! As per usual, it seems. 2019 has started out very strong for us, and we're looking to continue that into the rest of the year and into coming years.
Our book releases for 2019 have begun in full swing, and there are several more to come!
We will have a couple more titles coming forward later this year (May and beyond), so stick around. Lots more to look forward to.
If you've been keeping up with the Fanged Fiction Twitter account, you've probably seen us advertising Tristan by Sylvain St-Pierre. For any of you that don't know, we've been editing for Sylvain via Ottercorrect Literature Services for the last few years now, editing seven novels for him to date. We've enjoyed his writing, and have decided to print and distribute his work! While these items won't hold our logo, they still hold our support, and we're very excited to bring them to you.
What does that mean for you? Well, for the next seven months, hopefully, we'll be releasing one of his titles each month, which includes a paperback version and a redesigned ebook version! If you want to read samples of each of the titles we'll be carrying, visit his website and check him out. Sylvain has been self-publishing his work for awhile, and is currently selling the ebooks for each of his released titles, but you'll be able to get them all right here, fully updated, coming soon.
If you like Sylvain's work, along with buying the titles we release, he releases a lot of extra content on his Patreon, so consider supporting him there.
If you like his work, also consider joining his Discord channel, where you get to read first drafts of a lot of work, talk about existing work, and have input on in-progress work.
Another gap, but another round of exciting news!
Needless to say, we've been busy. Not only do we currently have two anthologies open for submissions—we know we announced them last time, but they're still going strong—but we've accepted not one, but three works for publications! We've also released a few new merchandise options over the last month or so that's worth getting excited about.
As a reminder, we have two anthology calls open for submissions. You can check them out here, but here's a brief rundown of them anyway!
Goal Publications is open for short stories based around coffee. The usual rules about anthro animals that surround all stories we accept applies, but the story much have a theme that centralizes somewhere around coffee.
Fanged Fiction, our 18+ imprint, is open for erotic stories with a strong predator/prey dynamic. Make them unique, as they will be regarded with much higher priority than your generic "cat chases mouse" or vice-versa stories!
Along with our Whandirlust tshirts now being offered in a variety of fun colors, we have two other items that have had a lot of attention!
The Upcoming Releases
I think we've teased you long enough.
Expected to release in mid November of 2018, award-winning author Renee Carter Hall of titles such as Huntress and By Sword and Star brings us our second Pocket Shot entitled Signal, a story about a rakuun whose curiosity gets the better of him, leading him on a journey to discover more about the ones who came before him.
Next, expected to release in February 2019 at Anthro New England, novelist Ben Goodridge—who you may know from his previous titles White Crusade and Found: One Apocalypse—brings us Akela, the gripping tale set in the Australian Outback following Akela, an anthro wolf—Bushchild—struggling to regain his memories and the life he once had. This title is a long time in the making, and we're all excited to bring it to you.
Finally, in her first publication expected to release in May of 2019, Leila Wilson with musical fames like the Freedom Planet OST and the upcoming Kyle & Lucy OST, bring us a Symphony of Shifting Tides, following Verse and their friend and partner-in-crime Xan, pirates who are forced out of water due to the death of the sea. They only want to leave and find a new home, but they get pulled into an adventure full of war, magic, and prophecies that Verse never wanted a part of.
Want to join in on the fun? While we are closed for novel submissions, we are opening back up for Pocket Shots on October 1st, 2018. Check out the submission guidelines for more details on this type of book, and how you can submit.
As our usual reminder, we are open for publication submissions! Check out our submissions page for more information on how to submit.
We are also looking for more project in the editing side of things! Check out our main site for how to send your project in for editing, and also check out the updated pages on our referral program (for current clients), as well as resources on how to edit your own work a bit better.