This post is a few days later than our usual report, but we've been especially busy catching up on everything over the last few days.
After using up a lot of our prepared resources for Anthro New England, we were in a bit of a scramble to make sure we had more stock in time for Fur the More. Before we left for Anthro New England, we placed an order for what we thought we'd sell, but for one title (Give Yourself a Hand), we had to actually break into that order for stock for that con, which meant we had to get an expedited order sent over to our hotel at Fur the More. Luckily that didn't end up being a huge problem, but still.
My sister was a huge help in getting more samples prepared in time, a big thanks to her for all the samples you guys enjoyed at Fur the More!
The drive was about seven hours in total, so not bad. I let Jake start the trip, which took us a bit of everywhere to get around NYC rush-hour traffic, but it still was very manageable. I took the second half of the trip, since that was what required us to navigate Arlington/Crystal City. I didn't have any issues figuring out where to go, luckily, but we'll get to the first added issue in the next part.
Thursday – Setup
Because of the distance, we opted to set up on Thursday. In all honesty, with how quick we're able to get our display setup these days (since we've eliminated using the grids), we may just opt to start getting to conventions for Friday unless they are REALLY far away, including big ones. Something to think about as a cost-saving measure.
The first part of all of this would be unloading. We received an email from the convention a couple days prior, mentioning they were going to attempt to facilitate half-hour timeslots to use the loading docks in the valet parking area. What wasn't mentioned (or at least clearly enough for me) was that to do that, you had to actually have the hotel staff valet park your car, which is where the loading dock is, pay to do that, then go inside and unload. We didn't even know about this part until the end of the convention, when it was finally explained. The hotel staff certainly wasn't helpful in that regard; they just kept yelling that everyone was taking too long.
Thank you to JD, TJ, Otter, and Alkani, who all helped in some way with the unloading and bringing stuff into the convention hotel.
While they did that, I drove down the road to park the car in the garage under the hotel we were staying at. It was close enough that without crutches, I would have been able to walk back and forth without issue. At least the people who ran the local shuttle got to know us very well over the course of the weekend.
Setup itself has almost nothing to talk about. We just got a new banner stand days before the convention, and despite being heavy and a little clunky, it proved to be the MVP of the convention. It was up in a couple of minutes, and my banner PERFECTLY fit on it. We'll have carrying bags for everything moving forward, but we received the stand too close to the convention for things to ship.
The day started out pretty steady. As per usual with the first day of a convention, I slept almost zero the night before, so I was slow to get the energy going. Once it did, I saw the day fluctuated quite a bit, with very busy points and very slow points. We tried something new this convention, in having Jake pretty much just be our cashier, so I can talk to customers about the books, and then once decisions are made, I can grab titles and just hand them over to him. It worked out super well, as we had several times where I had someone else lined up and ready to talk books as soon as the first person was taken care of.
Our Friday ended up with gross sales JUST shy of our ANE Saturday, which at that point was our biggest sales day yet.
It was busy. There were dead times, but wow. By about halfway though the day we'd beaten ANE's Saturday numbers, as well as the ANE overall numbers, which at this point already made Fur the More our highest-grossing convention. Not much to say other than that!
Sunday was steady at first, then died off quite a bit. As usual with our Sundays, it got busy at the end, with staff members and dealers finally coming around to grab things they'd been eyeing all weekend. In the end, we ended up at 63% above ANE's gross sales.
We still were only at about 55% of what we needed to make to end up with a profit at Fur the More, despite the great numbers on paper, so 2021 will certainly be the year of us attempting to figure out how to way cut costs.
Also, a big thanks to JD, TJ, and Skunkbomb for helping us load out! It'll be nice when I have proper use of my legs again, and none of this is an issue.
This convention, we started doing something a little different with our fact cards: we added quick sales pitches to them—essentially the thing we'd say if they showed enough interest in the book to pick it up. That seemed to work out pretty well.
The biggest thing that seemed to be suggested for this convention was that we need more variety in our Fanged Fiction side. Which is totally fair! We're working on that, and are excited to have a couple of titles planned for later in the year.
We also started printing up physical catalogs for our products, as a test. They were supposed to be around the convention hotel, but since our catalog was double-sided and included our Fanged Fiction work, the convention was "kind" enough to bring them back to me, informing us after the fact that they don't like to advertise that adult-oriented work exists in the fandom, despite the fact that erotic works exist in the young-adult sections of national bookstore chains. This was also interesting with the fact that the STI-testing place the convention brought in had a table full of condoms. Not that there's a problem with that! Just thought it interesting.
Despite the convention facing some definite challenges this year with the new venue and other things, we overall had a great convention! We'll be looking to apply again next year, as well as do another charity anthology, if the convention agrees.
After an exhausting weekend, we are back from Anthro New England! We've been to this convention as a dealer nearly every year since its inception (skipping one year due to financial trouble), and we were originally waitlisted for this convention! That's how it was until the Monday before the convention, when we got an email at almost 10pm asking if we could put together a single table for the convention. Luckily Jake already had two of the three days off, and was able to manage the third, so we agreed. That just meant that all of our convention prep for Fur the More, ended up being ANE prep!
This section is going to be a bit different this time, since we commuted the hour and a half each way from home, each day. The drive wasn't bad each day, but with how last-minute everything was, it was certainly an added stress. At least we got a little bit of sleep each night. Just a little bit.
Friday – Setup
As with the last convention, we set up the morning of the first day.
Because we happened to have all of our Fur the More release titles in, we decided to bring them all with us, and we're glad we did! Friday saw a lot of sales for our newest Fanged Fiction release, Give Yourself a Hand, and if ANE likes one things, it a book of erotic fiction and good wordplay, it seems. We also sold through a good amount of the Pocket Shot stock we brought. Luckily, because we were commuting, we were able to grab more stock from home each night.
We were blown away with how busy the room ended up first thing! We were a little worried that the room was over fire-code capacity at first; it was just wall-to-wall.
The sales day was interesting. We'd done a bit under half of our ANE 2019 total year sales within the first two hours of the den opening, and then it just…sort of died for us. We did 13 transactions in the first day, and 10 were in those first two hours. All in all, it was our best Friday at a convention ever, keeping up with our trend of constantly beating previous conventions.
Saturday started out very similar to Friday, in that we did quite a bit in our first couple hours. Only this time, the lull didn't last, and we remained fairly busy throughout the entire day. We also had PJ Wolf, who had stories in our Claw the Way to Victory and Give Yourself a Hand anthologies, at our table to give us his musical stylings, titled "Buy Some Books", as well as sign some books. With his help, we ended the day having sold 10 copies of Give Yourself a Hand" at that point in the convention, which beats the previous record for "Most number of one title sold at a convention" of 7 (held by Symphony of Shifting Tides).
We also picked up our sales of our "Books with Character", our slightly-defected titles.
This is also now the third convention in a row where we've had a customer buy a book on Friday, then come back to us on Saturday saying, "I read the entire thing, and now I need more books." It's something that I don't think we'll ever get used to, and it certainly gives us a great feeling.
As usual, our Sunday started off pretty slow. We had a couple early transactions, and then a rush around 1pm, but it stayed a slow sort of steady. Our sales of Symphony of Shifting Tides and Disbanded picked up quite a bit, letting us sell nearly the rest of our "Books with Character", and giving Disbanded a now-two-way tie for second, selling 7 copies at the convention. By the end, we'd also sold 12 copies of Give Yourself a Hand in total, which is going to be tough to beat!
Because we were offered a free table and we commuted we, for the first time ever, actually managed to make a slight profit at a convention! If we'd had to even pay for the one table we took, we would have had a slight loss still, but it's a step up! Our gross sales were about a 31% increase on our previous best convention, and a 75% increase on ANE 2019, so we really can't complain.
Once again, we're so happy we decided to do the Quick Fact cards, as well as the samples. Both were pivotal to the success we had. We also were given an idea we plan to implement at our next convention, which is to take our quick pitch for each book and actually put that on the card, right under the title. It'll allow customers to peek quicker, and for those that don't socialize well, it’ll allow for them to get a better sense of the book than just from the blurb.
As we mentioned on Twitter, horny New England does it again, and erotic content seems to be extremely favorable at this convention. We certainly didn't slack on the YA-friendly sales, but it was probably a 60/40 split in the end.
We did have a few customers specifically ask us for books starring dragons, and we realized that other than a couple short stories involving them, we didn't have anything! Write some books starring dragons, people!
Not too many, actually! Despite having such a short time to prepare, we did pretty good with our preparation. With the information we've gathered from this convention, we're going to be featuring yet another new table layout for Fur the More, so get ready for that in…10 days.
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.