We Make Zines

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hey i know some people have mentioned this on here before, but i just wanted to know everyone's opinion on leaving your zine in random places..

i mean just leaving a copy at a coffee shop or library or store in the hopes someone will pick it up and read it or just for the hell of it.

have you ever done this? if so why and did anyone who ever "found" a copy of your zine somewhere contact you because of it?

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I've always wanted to and I reaaaally hope to once I'm a little more financially stable.
I leave letters in library books pretty frequently, though.
I used to leave my zine everywhere. Small piles in record stores, coffee houses, clubs, and bars. Every time I'd get coffee or go out to eat, I'd leave a copy on the table, or if they had one of those areas with the day's paper, there. I'd leave copies in libraries, copy shops, etc. But I was on a mission to spread the word and get new readers constantly.
I've left some zines in a cafe, in their section for free reading material.
I used to leave notes everywhere and I've always thought about/wanted to leave zines, but so far I haven't. I've handed them off to people, but that's it. I've been thinking of making a small zine specifically to leave around though, because I love leaving things for people to find about as much as I like finding things.
This past summer, I left 5 issues of each of my zines on a table at the SF Zine Fest. So far no one has contacted me.. but I assume that there are at least 5 people who randomly picked up my zines and (hopefully) enjoyed them. It felt so thrilling to put them down and just walk away.
I made a zine specifically for the purpose of leaving it in random places, based on my friends Sam and Bex's movement Cheerthefuckupism. It's meant to be like a religious tract without the baggage. I left a few around Portland last year, and I sent a ton of copies to Sam and Bex in the UK so they could spread it around. I haven't left any in my town or anywhere else yet.

I honestly never considered doing that with my perzines. I honestly don't expect to ever make any money off zines, so I might as well spread them around.
I've been doing this recently. Here's the post I wrote about it in, for anybody who hasn't seen it.


Over the months, where I checked at a few of the places I left them, it didn't look like anybody'd even touched them, though I suppose one or two may've been taken. At least it didn't look like anybody was throwing them away, which is a little encouraging. At the EWU library bulletin board where I'd left some, and at which they were starting to get covered over, they cleaned the board, and to my surprise, somebody'd kept them on, and neatly put them back on the board again, which was nice of them, as I guess the rules are that they were supposed to throw them away with all the other past-dated material. Was it just a kind person, compassionate toward a lonely eccentric? Or do I have a secret ally?

I'm hesitant to leave any of my other zines in public places. I'm afraid they may be too wierd, and get me in trouble, maybe even with the police from complaining business owners. This area seems disturbingly conservative. (As you all know, I always put my physical address in, as a matter of principle.) But I'm seriously thinking of taking the leap and doing that. I did donate a stack of my zines to a thrift shop in California once under a stack of magazines. No replies yet. I'd LOVE to get replies this way, but I doubt it'd ever happen.

I left up flyers for zine world in the Cheney laundromat. They've been there for months, but haven't been touched.

There's a group in Spokane that organizes something called the "Really Free Market", where people bring items to give away free, and take what they need or want. Strictly no selling, trading, or bartering. The next one's going to be Dec. 27. I hope to go if I'm not snowed in, and "sneak in" some zines with my other stuff.

I'm working on the second issue of Alternative Ads, Contacts & Opinion. I'm going to put it in the "Big Mail" and distibute like I did the first issue. But I'm going to try to keep it down to a single sheet this time.
I used to not do this because when my zines were in english, it would have had little chance to be read by the mostly francophone population here (I live in Québec, not Montréal, and it's not rare at all to find people who are not bilingual or have real difficulty speaking english, so.. READ IT??! Although yes there are people here who are bilingual and totally fluent, like me!) but since I started publishing a local, french-language zine, I leave a lot of them in town, probably 25-35% of every print run.

I leave some in public transportation, in buses and on the ferry. Laundromats are great, and coffee shops as well, but I think it's also important to place some in totally random spots, where a person WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT A ZINE IS will find it. At the bank, in the supermarket, at the dentist or doctor's office, at the vet's, anywhere!!

Just remember to:

1.Shield your zine from the elements. If it's raining or snowing, dont leave them outside in a bus shelter, etc.

2. TIMING is almost as importance as PLACE. I.e. leaving a zine on the last bus on a Monday night will only have it picked up and thrown away by a bus employee; same thing if you leave a bunch inside an ATM entrance only to get the security guard put them in the trash. But if you leave 2 or 3 around midnight on a friday in a busy bus downtown, chances are they will be picked up by people. Same thing at a show, exhibit, where there are people buzzing about instead of just leaving it in an empty restaurant corner where it is most probable to get thrown out when the waitress cleans up.

Other places I like to leave zines is in people's bags if I can put them in silently, inside milk crates on bikes, directly in mailboxes, in a hospital waiting room, with flyers at the public library, on cork boards in bars or cafés, etc.
I'd love to find a letter in a library book! Sad thing is, library workers often have to sift through books' pages as part of their jobs. I used to put flyers inside books before returning books, only to be shamed by the library worker shuffling the pages right in front of me and giving me back my flyers... so basically I think the only way to reach people is to place your stuff in books that are on the shelf.

star blanket river child said:
I've always wanted to and I reaaaally hope to once I'm a little more financially stable.
I leave letters in library books pretty frequently, though.
oh, really? I've never seen them do that with mine, but maybe that's just because I spend so much time there that they trust me, haha.

something I find interesting- with the PostSecret books, I always find people have added post it notes with their secrets. It's great.
Iza Straightshooter said:
I'd love to find a letter in a library book! Sad thing is, library workers often have to sift through books' pages as part of their jobs.

They don't. I've worked in libraries all my life. Sure, if someone returns a book with some obvious papers in it they will be taken out, but libraries don't have the staff, time or resources to sift through books looking for things people left behind. If you were going to do this, it would be smarter to put the zine in a book on the shelf, chances are the next person to touch it would be someone wanting to check out the book. It would have to be a pretty popular book though, many books sit on the shelves for years or decades without being checked out.

I totally think everyone should try some random zine gifting/guerilla marketing, but you would probably find a more receptive audience if you put it on the reading rack at an indie coffee shop, the flyer rack at an alternative/punk record store, at a thrift store, or even a public library (most libraries have free publication areas in their lobbies, when I did my old magazine we dropped a lot at libraries).
you know, i've never done this..
but i gave my zine to a friend of a friend, who after he read it, liked it enough to leave it in a shop in Woodstock, he thought other people in this town might enjoy my writings.. :) and he hoped i wouldn't be offended.. of course not, i thought it was interesting.. and i'm thinking of leaving some copies about myself, the only thing is i want to print some without my snail mail address in them for that purpose.. the last few i made for trading on here have it, and if i were to leave it out and about, i'd probably just leave an email.. i wouldn't want some of the creepers around here showing up on my door.. lol

which also brings up another topic.. how comfortable are you putting your snail mail address in them? for those of you with po boxes, it's not an issue, but for god sakes we attract the creepers? any thoughts?



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