This concludes my interview Joe Strike who who has been very busy since his book Fur Nation was publish My Review Running in to him at MFF was a huge surprise. Since I ran in to him in fursuit.
I suspect in all the year-end craziness, I never did answer your question, “how big a struggle was it to get Furry Nation published?”
Really, it was more a matter of perseverance than struggle. As I mentioned in the book’s preface, several years earlier an editor was interested but wanted to see more of me and other furries in the book. Once I got over my fear of revealing myself I put a proposal together for that editor in 2014. My proposal was based on an advice book whose title I forget, something like “How to Write the Perfect Book Proposal.” (Basically, write a sample chapter, outline the rest and list reasons why your book will be a big fat success.)
I sent it to that editor who had completely forgotten about me and whose company had cut back on their releases by then. With a fully fleshed out proposal and without an “in” to a publishing company, I started looking online for an agent; they’re the “gatekeepers” to the publishing companies. By and large, with occasional exceptions publishers won’t consider work that comes in “over the transom.” (That is, unsolicited directly from the author.) The book editors at those companies trust the agents to bring them books the agent knows that particular editor might be interested in.
There are several websites online that direct authors to potential agents; the one I used was agentquery.com. It lists a zillion agents and dozens of book genres and has a search function to help you find agents who specialize in any particular genre. I searched (IIRC) for agents interested in pop culture, sociology, etc. – even sexuality. One agent in particular finally responded months later – and it took her months to land a publisher for me. It turned out to be Cleis Press, a publisher whom (according to their website) “is the largest independent sexuality publishing company in the United States. With a focus on LGBTQ, BDSM, romance, and erotic writing for all sexual preferences, Cleis Press books are consistently changing the way people read and think about sexual behavior, culture, and education.”
Based on that I was worried Cleis would market FN specifically as a sex/kink book, which fortunately they did not. Then it was a matter of sitting down and writing the goddamn thing, which I finally did. Writer’s block, a ton of material to cover and residual fear of exposing myself slowed me down a bit: my original deadline was 12/31/16, which I was unable to meet. They gave me two weeks extra or the book would have to wait another six months for publication. Fortunately I was able to meet the new deadline and submitted my manuscript mind January of last year.
I wrote a lot of material which had to be left out due to length: chapters about mainstream, non-“furry” anthropomorphism (serious novels, performance art, theater etc.) and a chapter on My Little Pony I’m particularly proud of. There are also subjects I wanted to cover but just didn’t have time to get beyond my notes and actually write about. In fact, there’s enough material to write a follow-up book if Cleis (or any other publisher might be interested) which for the moment I’m calling Furry Planet.
Great meeting you (all too briefly!) at MFF; hope we have more time next time we meet up. BTW I’m not sure if you’re on my main mailing list; in case I missed you, I’ve attached my holiday from last month. Thanx much and –