I'm writing what I enjoy. I didn't PLAN to build an audience through erotica and then branch out; it just happened. I feel tremendously fortunate that there are so many people out there who happen to enjoy what I do.
I believe I went the opposite direction. I wrote Kings of Rainmoor, which barely had sex in it but had some provocative bits sneaking in anyhow because some of the characters were more shameless than others. Then I wrote Ghosts of Rainmoor, which explored the consequences of the first book's choices but still was largely unsexual. Then I wrote Aquarius, which showed the first gay characters and had a lot more sexual situations, but still would not go into an explicit scene- it ends with an explicit scene heard through a door by a voyeur fox!
All of these, I did not promote. I basically don't promote, I just do. I write anyway, with or without readers, so the high water mark of my popularity has been having almost everything I've done 'five star OMG must read' on Miavir's old furry story index, which now has broken links- those books are now on the Tally Road site.
Then I started a webcomic, because at least you can get noticed on the Belfry list if you have a furry webcomic. It started off clean and then I went what the hell, and got into some very explicit, very twisted and intense erotic material, and discovered that the plots got even more interesting when this very powerful motivator was off the leash running around yiffing people characters' reactions to sexual things can be powerful! Short of starving characters it's hard to get stronger tensions into writing
The webcomic hovered around 40-50 on the furry section of the Belfry list, at about 300 readers a day- I quit it because I got to hate drawing and only wanted to tell the story, and switched over to straight up no pictures writing. I've done about 40K words so far and quite a bit of it has been explicitly erotic because the stories I'm telling this time live in that world- ironically, it's been all straight so far though I do have a gay/straight triangle in which the gay relationship is less screwed up than the straight side of the triangle. Almost none of my sexual relationships are really healthy, because it's writing and healthy people are less interesting Because it's writing and not pictures, readership is down to about 100 readers a day, but still with no real promotion either from me or from any of the readers that I know of.
I disagree passionately that 'furry writer' is a label to avoid in favor of more general description. The last thing you want is to be passed off as 'versatile'- that's deadly for marketing- ideally you find a passion, pursue it whatever it is, and let yourself be defined by something you actually like. If 'furry' becomes a craze and the new SF- and face it, Avatar was a big hit for popularizing blue kitty lust- then everything could change rapidly. Plus, traditional print is in crisis- there is no benefit to being picked up as a midlist author by a publishing house that promptly dies.
As far as the furry writer guild thing- hell, I'd love a little more validation too, but I have a variety of life stuff to do as well as wanting to put out upwards of 2000 words a day- 1000 is OK, I'd like to be at more, like NaNoWriMo output levels just as a normal lifestyle. I don't know about the rest of you but I have to grab moments of cameraderie where I can- like hanging with Rabbit at FWA, which was great- because I don't normally have time for any of that because I have to WRITE.
Could be worse, I could still be having to draw
My point being, validation and doing good work are not the same thing. It's great to want fandom support, but I wrote three novels without it and I'm still grinding away merrily in my little monastic nook- now, on a daily website. You can get a lot of validation from just ONE FAN who is reading along, paying attention, and knows your story. If the future of furry writing doesn't contain any fandom support or guilds or sense of belonging, I'm seriously okay with that, because that's what I've had for the last ten-twenty years and it just made me lonely, it didn't stop me being able to work.