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Everything you want to know about a zine fest...

... but were afraid to ask.

I am thinking of writing an article about zine fests making a simple "how-to" that will go in the Richmond Zine Fest program and offer it up to any other fests or a mini zine for reprinting.

I think a lot of people visit zine fests and don't know what to expect and don't know what to do or what is proper etiquette. I know some things are touched on in Stolen Sharpie Revolution, but i kind of want to make something separate available for free when one comes to a zine fest or can order from a distro if curious.

Some things i am wanting to touch on:
- It's okay to browse
- It's okay to ask questions
- Definition of a distro
- trading etiquette

As an attendee or tabler, please let me know what you think would be valuable info

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Well... don't be afraid... what types of things are you curious about? (Feel free to PM me too)

Zac said:
YES! I need this article, I've never actually been to a zinefest, but I plan to go to the Toronto one someday.
I wrote some stuff in ssr2 that you might want to use. I would also suggest getting lots of extra change for the info booth. We usually get about $400 in change and $300 of it in $1s at the Portland Zine Symposium.
I was defintiely thinking of quoting SSR in the article. I agree on the change tip. I know the guy taking fees at the Philly Zine Fest had run out of change right away and i believe that i gave change to a couple of people also.

Alex Wrekk said:
I wrote some stuff in ssr2 that you might want to use. I would also suggest getting lots of extra change for the info booth. We usually get about $400 in change and $300 of it in $1s at the Portland Zine Symposium.
Sarah said:

Proper tabler etiquette: don't have a sales pitch that you use to every person who comes within hearing distance to your table. It's creepy.

I'm not too sure about that, when people come up to my table - its as if they are expecting me to tell them WHAT they are looking at and why they should care...i understand not giving them a flat stale spiel but ive always managed to do well when i engage people about what i've got going on...of course my mundane career has been 45% customer service related so yeah it sticks a bit.
Haha Raequel - Sarah brings that up because we had someone at the RIchmond Zine Fest last year who made Billy Mays look tame. This guy seemed like he was trying to sell a quota of 100 Sham Wows in an hour's time.

raequel aka systris said:
Sarah said:

Proper tabler etiquette: don't have a sales pitch that you use to every person who comes within hearing distance to your table. It's creepy.

I'm not too sure about that, when people come up to my table - its as if they are expecting me to tell them WHAT they are looking at and why they should care...i understand not giving them a flat stale spiel but ive always managed to do well when i engage people about what i've got going on...of course my mundane career has been 45% customer service related so yeah it sticks a bit.
srsly??? hahahaha that's rich! well okay i DO understand now...
I think you should include a list of etiquette if you are running a zine fair.
some things i thought of based on my experience at the philly zine fest:

-if you really want a zine, snap it up because there's a good chance that if you walk away and come back later it will be gone.

-for sellers: make up a little flyer that tells people where they can find your zines/how they can contact you. (that is probably totally obvious but i didn't do it this year and wish i had!)
I've met a few Billy Mays-types at zinefests, and they're the worst. One thing about them, though, is they give me a good tale to tell for years to come.

When I table, I use a tablecloth and a visible sign with the name of my zine, brief description, and price, and I also keep little typewritten tags under each zine that describe what specific issues are about. I always have fliers, and I also like to have a little sign that says I <3 TRADES so people won't be too shy to ask.

One of my biggest recommendations, even though I sometimes get shy and totally fail at it, is just to smile and greet people, make eye contact and be friendly (AND LOSE THE SALES PITCH).
I hope you didn't think I was making any digs at your fest-running abilities, I was just thinking it would be cool to include such a list! Anyway, here's different things I've noticed from attending fests:

- MAKE SURE YOUR SPACE IS ACCESSIBLE! If it's not, or only partially accessible, let people know. Make sure to check about bathrooms, too.
- Food...let people know if it will be there, and if vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free stuff will be available.
- No loud music! Please!
- Maybe a child-care room at the fest? With activities for kids, changing table, etc.
- Start advertising your fest early.

I can think of more, and I'm sure others can contribute to the list :)

Sarah said:
Such as?

And I'm not being snarky by asking Erin, but I've honestly haven't been to any other zine fest other than the one I've helped run in years. I don't think I've been to Philly Zine Fest since 2004. I think what we've learned from Philly is not to have loud music or live punk bands (granted that may change at least for Friday's portion of the RVAZF this year...but I also don't know what Philly did with their music this year either). What I learned from the old DC Zine Fairs is that having almost only anarchist zines table is really fucking boring.

But for the past 2 RVAZF's, I've sent out e-mails to tablers a week in advance with probably too much information, up to and including how to get into the parking lot if there is one, when we expect them to be there to set up their tables, workshop schedules, and probably other things I'm forgetting. Granted, the big tabler e-mail is not my job this year, so we could probably use any specs tablers need. Parking...may be an issue now that I think about it.



bibliophile83 said:
I think you should include a list of etiquette if you are running a zine fair.
"I'm not too sure about that, when people come up to my table - its as if they are expecting me to tell them WHAT they are looking at and why they should care...i understand not giving them a flat stale spiel but ive always managed to do well when i engage people about what i've got going on...of course my mundane career has been 45% customer service related so yeah it sticks a bit."

Heh... that's the exact reason I have no spiel. I'm kinda sick of being nice to customers so I just let them be. They're free to browse and if the provuct itself doesn't entice them than that's fine with me.
i think it might be nice to include a list of places where you can find zines for sale, and zine libraries and such - both local and national. i found this nice link on the internet recently. i didn't know so much zineish stuff was going on across the country and abroad, and i think it may open up people to the idea that zines are a big movement.

when i tabled at the portland zine symposium, they were doing raffles of zines and stuff that zine-makers donated on the day of the fest. i thought it was a good idea and didn't know if you guys were doing something similar. this'll be my first Richmond zine fest (and my second zine fest ever.)

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