We Make Zines

a place for zinesters - writers and readers

how do you do this? in my head there are two ways:

1. just go there with a copy of your zine and ask them to sell yours. this sounds like a bad idea because how can they decide in the five minutes you are there? plus i'm a way better writer than i am talker.

2. send a letter in the mail with a copy of your zine and contact information so they can get back to you if they are interested. some people are bad about getting back to people though, so i don't know about this way either.

for those of you who are big ballers and sell a ton of zines in stores, how do you do it? how does it work? what do you say? i'm about done with my #2 issue and want to sell a bunch to stores in the seattle area. and possibly portland.

any feedback would be AWESOME.

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an email inquiry before sending your zine in the mail to see if they take submissions for consignment might be a good idea. makes it easier for a dialogue to begin if the answer is yes and if the answer is no, it's an easy no.
If it's on consignment and the store isn't going to lose any money then a lot of places just have a form you can fill out and send along with some zines. Other stores will ask you to send in a sample copy ahead of time. You don't exactly stand to make a lot of money selling zines via consignment, but if you're interested in being in stores it's the easiest way to go.
I'm thinking of publishing some books that will in reality be very thick zines so I'm want to know too!
Okay, I work in a mainstream bookstore in the UK, so I can offer advice on how to get your books stocked in (for example) Waterstone's. Independent book shops probably have different criteria, and possibly more flexibility in terms of what they can stock. Indie craft/record/other shops I imagine would have a greater degree of flexibility again.

Basically, in terms of a mainstream bookshop stocking a zine, you would need to get it an ISBN. If you are in the UK, go to http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk/controller.php?page=123 for full info of how to get your book registered etc. Once you have an ISBN you need to get somebody to distribute it for you (this is why selling to indie shops would be easier, I imagine, because you wouldn't need an ISBN & you would be able to sell it to them directly yourself). For Waterstone's & a lot of other bookshops in the UK, the place to go for distribution is www.gardners.com.

Once you have ISBN & distributor, you can contact a bookshop. My advice is, phone first, & ask to speak to the manager (an email might work, but phone if you email & don't get a reply). They may ask you to send them information, in which case, send a sample copy and a covering letter saying why they should stock it (eg there's a big festival coming up & all the people who go to it will want to buy your zine, or there's a big local market for whatever your zine subject is, or there's nothing else available on the subject to buy, or whatever). Otherwise, arrange a time when you can go in to speak to them about stocking your zine. The problem with just turning up without an appointment is that a) the manager might be busy, and b) they'll probably just think you're a bit cheeky & not bother to see you even if they are free.

N.B. You will need to contact individual branches of a chain bookstore about stocking your book; just because one takes it, doesn't mean another will (& just because one doesn't take it,doesn't mean another won't).

The problem with selling to a mainstream bookshop is that unless your 'small press publication' (that's what it is, once you have ISBN & distribution) has a strong local angle, or some other reason that they can anticipate selling a lot of copies, they probably won't want to stock it. You need to be a good talker and/or have good marketing skills to get your zine into a 'real' bookshop. Having said that, once you have an ISBN, your zine will be listed in an internet database that is used by all bookshops, so if a customer asks for your zine (anywhere in the country), the bookshop will be able to order it for them, assuming you also have a distributor.

Make sure you can produce your zine cheaply, as you'll probably get less than 50% of your usual cover price. And if you're looking at mainstream outlets, sale or return pretty much doesn't exist any more.

I would imagine that you would get a better deal through an indie shop of some description, and quite likely be able to negotiate sale or return, too. I would always recommend contacting by phone or email first, rather than just stop by unannounced.

A good book to get hold of is 'Indie Publishing' by Ellen Lupton.
Most bookstores that are known for selling zines (Quimby's, Atomic, Reading Frenzy) have explicit instructions on how they like to receive submissions. Smaller stores are totally approachable, though, and sometimes showing up in person with a big smile and a complimentary copy for their perusal will get you in where an email would not. Make sure your zine has info on how the bookstore can contact you. It doesn't hurt to send a courteous follow up a couple of days later too, saying how much you enjoyed visiting the store, and thanking them for letting you leave the submission.

Sometimes I will visit a store (notably Needles and Pens in San Francisco) only to find that Microcosm Distro has already taken care of stocking The East Village Inky there, which is just grand by me, as Microcosm pays me for the zines they buy, and I know they give excellent service, so I will be represented as well, if not better than I could do myself!

Also, if you have a website, the stores really appreciate it if you can toss a little love their way in the form of a link. Tell your fans to buy Cocoa Puss from these stores.

Scroll down to see how I do that:
I would go to independent shops that are sell zines or other independent media and ask if they want to take your zine on as consignment...they will charge a small fee and you will make whatever is left over.
Look for independent bookstores, cd stores and even clothing shops to sell your zine in...
Andrew Culture said:
I'm thinking of publishing some books that will in reality be very thick zines so I'm want to know too!
Hello Andrew (and everyone else). If you're thinking of publishing something between a book and a zine it might be worth looking at a one-shot zine I did called Publish and Be Published which is a how-to guide to the process I went thru putting out a novel in zine form. P and BP's out of print now but I've archived it at http://zinemonger.blogspot.com .Hope it helps.
I've only sold to one (independent) bookstore, and I just asked for the owner/manager and gave her my mini-comics and asked if she would sell them (she said yes). Go when it isn't busy, and if the owner/manager/etc isn't there, ask when he/she will be in and could speak with you. Or, if he/she is too busy, leave your zine(s) with him/her in an envelope and ask when a better time to come back would be.

My thinking is, if it's the type of place where your zine could sell, then they will buy them. If not, they won't, which isn't a loss if they wouldn't have sold anyway.
My local comic book store takes everything on 60/40 consignment and gives you a little yellow slip with the number of copies and title of the zines/comics you drop off. When they sell something from the zine rack, it's marked down in a book. When you take the slip in, they look it up, and you get paid. They will basically stock anything because they don't have to pay for it in advance. I know they carry some non-Pittsburgh zines, I don't know how those writers got in contact with them. If you can stop in yourself, that's probably the best tactic.

(Bragging rights: my comics sold out! And it was almost enough to pay for the newest Walking Dead trade. Which is an awesome series, btw.)



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