My question is regarding creating furry content, primarily books. Over the course of four years, I have discovered that it is difficult to obtain any success as a self-publishing author. It feels even more difficult when your books contain furry related content.
I love writing in general, whether is furry related or not, but I really had high expectations for this particular story that I meticulously created since high school. Even with all of the doubts and hardships, I've managed to publish at least two of my stories. Sadly, I have no family members or friends who are supportive in buying my story or helping me to advertise it. I get that I can't force them to own one, but the lack of interest does create this cloud of self doubt. Maybe the world just isn't ready for mainstream furry content? IDK. When I see shows like Beaststars and similar ideas, I feel like that should be me also.
Is there some sort of secret marketing strategy that I am not aware of? Or is it just one of those deals where I'm going to have to pay to get noticed?
* * *
Dear Ebon Wolf,
Excellent questions, ones that I'm sure plague many writers of all sorts, not just those who pen furry fiction. Publishing is a very fickle thing. There are many excellent writers who struggle to get their works published and read, and there are many shoddy authors who make a very good living writing garbage that is popular with readers.
If your question is "What sells?" Well, you need to start off with a good story with sympathetic characters that readers can route for, of course. Big publishers like Random House or Simon & Schuster tend to be very conservative; they like to publish stuff that is similar to books that have sold before. Rarely do they take risks to publish something truly original. This is why you see a lot of stuff like "tell-all" celebrity autobiographies, thrillers and detective stories, and romance novels. When someone does have a breakthrough like J. K. Rowling, you can bet that their book will be followed by lots of copycats; this was also true after the Tolkien books became popular.
When it comes to furry fiction and learning what is popular, read what furries find exciting and take notes. For example, when one thinks of a best-selling furry writer, the name that pops to mind immediately is Kyell Gold. Read some of his stuff. But also read non-furry anthro fiction, such as Brian Jacques' Redwall series, Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, or Richard Adams' Watership Down. The more anthro fiction you read by other authors, the more you will experience an osmosis of technique that will begin to affect your own writing in a good way.
Because it can be extremely challenging to find a publisher to print your works, many authors are going the self-publishing route. For this, you need some money, sure. Or a lot of knowledge about how to typeset and print a book yourself. With paper costs soaring lately, printing has become quite expensive. Another route you can go is the ebook. The good news is that even if you don't know how to create your own ebooks or epubs, there are inexpensive services out there that can help you. Just google "ebook conversion services" and start shopping around for companies that can convert your text into an ebook that you can sell online.
Next problem is getting the word out. One of the best ways to do this is to send your manuscript to a book reviewer, and, when it comes to furry fiction, the place for you to go is The Furry Book Review (https://furrybookreview.com/) which I do believe is willing to review self-published books. You can also take excerpts of your book and post them on various furry social sites with links on how to purchase the full book. You can try to get on furry podcasts for interviews. Some other tips can be found here https://www.editage.com/info/book-editing-services/articles/11-Powerful-book-promotion-ideas-for-self-published-authors.html. However, I do not recommend going through Amazon because they will rape you of all your profit. It's not worth it. They take huge chunks of your money. Now, if you're not doing this for money, then go ahead with them, but I would suggest trying other ways first before you resort to Amazon.
Hope these tips help. Good Luck!
I've written to you before, but I used the name StormFolf! Well, when I wrote you, Storm was my first Fursona, and I hadn't fully gotten into the fandom yet. But now I've done my research and things are going great!
My new name is Harmony. I'm a Raptor! Anyway, I took your advice and told my family and friends about being a Furry, and they were entirely supportive. A few days after telling my brother, he bought me a raptor mask, and a few days after THAT, one of my friends that I told bought me some paws, and painted my mask! Its all thanks to you, and I thank you greatly.
I am doing great, except for one thing. I told one group of friends that I was a furry, but they have banded together and won't stop taunting me. They tell me that I'm a f*g, and tell me to stop watching animal porn, when I've made it clear I'm not into that. I've told many adults, but nothing helps. My mom says I may have to stick up for myself, but idk how.
Harmony (age 13)
* * *
Thank you for your letter and I'm very happy for you that your family has been supportive of your furriness :-3
Okay, about bullies: You may have read some of Papabear's earlier posts about bullies, and the same kind of logic goes with your situation. All bullies are alike, and sometimes they glom together in bully cliques to torment innocent kids like yourself. Bullies behave this way for a couple of reasons: 1) they are insecure about their status in their social group, so they tear down other people to lift themselves up; 2) they have no skills or redeeming qualities in themselves, so to feel better about who they are they pick on others to try to make them outcasts; 3) they are like wolves in a pack, and sensing weakness in others gives them a reason to go on the attack to assert their place in said pack; 4) they are emotionally troubled because they have a lousy home life, which causes anger to build in them and they release this anger on others because they need to vent their frustrations and sadness in some way (even if that is an inappropriate way [this is like the character Gideon Fox]); and 5) they are fearful of anyone who does not adhere to what are considered "social norms," and fear leads to hate, which leads to bullying.
Once you understand some of the psychology of the bully (or bully group), you will see that the flaws lie within THEM and not within YOU. You don't get bullied because there is something wrong with you; you get bullied because there is something wrong with them.
You describe these people as "a group of friends," but I assure you, they are not. Not if they treat you this way.
The way to defeat bullies is to take away their power. What is that power? The power is the ability to make you feel bad about yourself. This is reinforced by the strategy of trying to stick a label on you such as "f*g."
The most effective way of fighting back is to show them that what they say has absolutely no effect on you. Yes, at first, this will be difficult, but the more you practice it the more it will be true. When they say things like "You want to watch animal porn" or "you're a f*g," just say something like, "That would really hurt my feelings if I cared at all who you are or what you say. You're not my friend and I have no respect for your opinion." Don't say this with tears in your eyes or angrily. You must do it with great calm and indifference. The more indifferent you are, the more they will see they are not hurting you, and bullying you won't be fun for them anymore.
Other things you can say:
Remember, in NO WAY show to them that you are upset. This is actually where you can take some advice from Nick Fox in Zootopia: "Never let them see they got to you." Don't try to defend yourself with arguments or denials because this is engaging with them and that is exactly what they want. They are not interested in your arguments or in the truth. Their sole purpose is to upset you and pick on you. Don't let them. If you do a good job, they'll get tired of you and pick a new target. Then, you might share with that new person what you have read here.
Get the idea? You can come up with your own comebacks, too, as you feel appropriate. (Remember, if they turn violent, report it at once. I doubt they will because most bullies are cowards, but you never know).
I hope this helps.
Thanks for reading Ask Papabear.
I'm looking to buy a Bad Dragon toy; I'm a gay furry bottom. What toys do you recommend? I would like something that fills me yet can fit easy and feels good like not a bunch of weird surfaces. Thanks :). New to fandom. How do you cool down in suit in 103 F Louisiana air? It's humid and hot.
* * *
I don't know if this will shock you or not, but I have never purchased a Bad Dragon product. Not that I wouldn't recommend them (they seem like a good company and are very popular with many furries), but I'm not into sex toys. Even if I did use their products, I wouldn't know what to recommend to you, given that I don't know anything about your needs, so to speak. I would therefore suggest you contact their customer service people by following this link: https://help.bad-dragon.com/.
As to your other question, keeping cool in a fursuit is important, indeed. Even experienced fursuiters will have trouble staying in suit for more than a few hours (my max is about 5 hours). But this max is while being in an environmentally controlled room such as a hotel lobby. I would not recommend going out in 103-degree, humid heat and fursuiting. At least, not for very long.
To stay cool, fursuiters do a number of things. Number one on this list is wearing a cooling vest or other cooling suit tech. There are a number of them on the market (just search for "cooling vest"), including one invented by the furry community's very own EZWolf (EZcooldown.com). Other things you can do include having a small fan installed in your fursuit head (I have one; it helps), wearing a balaclava to help direct sweat away from your face, wearing heat gear (e.g., Under Armour athletic wear), and, of course, keeping hydrated. Be aware of your body and dehead and cool off as often as necessary to keep from overheating.
Now go suit up and have fun!
I'm in the closet, and if I come out I lose everyone I still care about except for my brother. My mom hates gays but thinks my Greek grandmother molesting me and hitting me and starving me as a kid is ok and says I am being a sissy pretty much cause I don't want to be around her.
[I'm] single, male, no job cause of stuttering, can't drive yet, and severe nightmares. i can only sleep in daytime. These nightmares are so bad I can't fall asleep at night. Every sound makes me jump and turn on all lights. I feel pain, and I can't wake up from them, like, Freddy Kruger-style.
Of course, no marks when I wake up, but my mental health is declining. I feel so alone, and I am starting to see my nightmares when I'm awake, too. Like, I can see it but only as it rounds a corner or out the corner of my eye. I know it's not real; in fact, I'm an atheist, but this terrifies me. It'ss a deer who wears its skeleton on the outside of its body and stands 12 feet on hinds legs. I'm 6 ft 7, and it holds me down and bites me, causing extreme pain and suffering.
[At] age 21 and a half, [I'm] not sure what conversion therapy they were talking about [Papabear note: this is a follow-up letter of one I received in which the letter writer asks if he should go through conversion therapy; I asked for more background, which resulted in this current letter], but I read and watched vids, so I'm scared of that shock therapy stuff.
Dating site stuff, all want me to pay, and I currently can't. Money issues and no credit card. When I put my mind to it, I can do tough jobs, but my mind has been deteriorating for years now. I've lost hope. Only reason I ain't dead is my brother, and I am too sissy to end it, and idk how to end it.
If you can help that would be wonderful. Also, current counselor is way too queer. I guess I just need someone to tell me it's okay and [get some] advice. Racist south Louisiana, but gay is the new black (aka, gays are being beaten every day, and no cops interfere). I spend time on video games hoping that tomorrow is a better day. Like walking dead, taking it one day at a time.
The way my grandma did stuff was she was like the Baba Yaga in [the Witcher]. She weaved a web of lies and fed off my pain but sexually. Grooming and touching and rubbing and hitting and starving. Now [that] I'm larger, I cant retaliate. Why? Cause she is a woman, and I'm a man, and she is old now. Please help if u can. I don't sleep much, and I fear I may go crazy if I already haven't.
Solmyr Wizard22 (Louisiana, age 21)
* * *
Yours is a terribly sad story. I see why you might ask about conversion therapy. So, we need to be clear here. Conversion therapy does not work and never has. It is, indeed, a form of mental and emotional torture and has been banned in several states (see this map https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/conversion_therapy). People who still believe in conversion therapy consider being homosexual a type of mental illness or social deviancy. This is not true. There is nothing wrong with you, which is why conversion therapy doesn't work (you can't "cure" something when there is nothing to cure). Indeed, as you can see here, conversion therapy is dangerous: https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy.
Being gay and having family hate you for it seems to be only part of the issue. Your grandmother is a huge problem, too, as you know. The nightmares you are having are likely a manifestation of your fears and horrors experienced while living with this horrible woman. She is the deer with the skeleton on the outside of her body. Because your anxieties are depriving you of sleep, these dreams are now manifesting in your waking world. When you do not get enough sleep (REM sleep), you can experience many side effects, including hallucinations, and this appears to be what you are experiencing now.
Of high importance at this time, therefore, is for you to get some sound, restful sleep. Here are some tips from Harvard Medical School (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/tips-for-beating-anxiety-to-get-a-better-nights-sleep). If need be, try over-the-counter sleep aids (I would avoid ZzzQuil as it tends to exacerbate nightmares). You can also talk to a trained therapist about how to alleviate your anxiety to sleep better.
Speaking of counselors, yours is evidently not a good match. There is nothing wrong with shopping around for a therapist until you find one with whom you are comfortable and who helps you.
Your mental health issues are peaking, which is concerning since you are entertaining thoughts of suicide. For this, I would ask you to please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. It is a free call and you will reach people who are trained specifically with this issue. And, FYI, it is GOOD that you are "too sissy" to kill yourself. This means you still have a will to live. Hold onto that healthy desire to live.
You also need to start working toward getting away from your present environment, especially your grandmother, but also your gay-hating parents. YOU are NOT the problem. THEY are. You have not done anything wrong. Being gay or bi is not a moral failing.
You don't make clear why, at 21, you don't have a job, but you need to amend that. If the problem is your anxiety, then deal with that first and then work toward employment. If you are disabled and cannot work, then apply for government disability. Do anything to get some money so you can take control of your life.
That's my initial advice to you. You can write again any time when you have more questions.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.