a place for zinesters - writers and readers
Thanks for your questions! I'm been going back and forth on starting a distro so I don't have any specific advice for you, but as for charging for free zines - I've seen distros charge 1 cent on such zines just so they'll be able to be added on Paypal orders. I don't see a big problem with that, it's just a cent and it'll take a few hundred of those to really make an impact!
hi Brittney! thanks for the reply (& patience!) :)
I cut out some of my questions too and put your comments in 'italics', so that i can comment on your advices within this getting too confusing!
- any advices on how to “approach” a zine editor to invite to a new distro, specially a “famous” zine-maker?
Make sure you research the zines before hand. I know it sounds stupid, but trust me it's worth it. I went through a period where I just read a description about the zine and emailed the zinester immediately.
--- i started sending "invites" to zines i have in my own collection, because that's how i know they're good ;-).
though i did buy a lot of zines just by reading a description, specially at first, it was a matter or luck, i guess. sometimes i see an ad to zine on the internet, that looks interesting and then i'll just ask if they're interested in sending a copy for distro consideration.
my thing with inviting a "famous" zine-maker is that sometimes i think they won't care about my distro, since it's a new thing, barely starting, etc, etc. and because i'm in Europe, in this little country called Portugal, i also feel that kinda puts people off. --
- refunds - has that ever happened to any distro owner, someone wanting to return zines that they ordered, for whatever reason?
I've never had to issue one, but it's easy using paypal, and you could always give distro credit instead.
--- yeah, i never thought about the paypal refund option! but if i'm giving them their money back, then i want the zine back too :p ---
- my biggest doubt is how to make the split percentage (specially a fair split, for both sides) between the zine-editor and the distro, since the distro will be the one having to support the costs of printing & the work of assembling the zines...
I'd say split it 70/30 with you getting the 70 percent... but it depends on the zine. I don't do flats because I know I couldn't make it to the printer that often.
--- since the copyshops here are quite near (i can always get a lift from my dad, or make half the way on the subway), i thought about it, for a situation like where the zine-editor doesn't have enough copies or can't afford to send me many copies but would still want to be in the distro's catalog... ---
- what's the best option - having a good PDF file (with good enough resolution for printing), or having the “real” flats in paper?
I don't mind PDF files, to me the content is important.. But I love having the tangible zine. It's much cooler.
--- i meant a PDF file to use for making those copies myself, this one's connected to the previous question. anyway, i also prefer having the paper-zine in my hands when getting them for consideration. i've accepted PDF once, but it was from someone who's work i already knew and i could trust that the print-version would be good enough. ---
- recently, i saw an info on a distro, about them charging for free zines, where they explain that they do so because they have to pay for the shipping costs of having those zines sent to the distro...
It depends.. Are they charging you shipping AND for the cost of the zine? Because I would hate that..
--- like i answered to Tiara, the distro i saw that info on (though i'm not gonna give out names, that's irrelevant for my post), i've browsed their catalog but it looks like they're out of free zines at the moment, so i have no idea of how much they were charging... ---
- i've read about working on consignment, as payment option. it's seems quite normal to accept that physical stores don't have money for upfront payment, because they are afraid to risk losing money...
I work on consignment.. And so far people are okay with it.. Sometimes I buy a set wholesale, but only if I have the extra cash.. I have about 50 different zines, all are sold on consignment..
--- yeah, 50 zines is quite a lot of money if you had to put it upfront! i try not to get too ambitious and wanting to stock that many zines or even all the zines i find being really good & fitting to the distro's catalog, because i feel most of them would have to be payed upfront, which i can't do :( . i might get some from wholesale distros in the near future, otherwise it will take me too much time to build the catalog, the way i've been doing ;/ ---
- how about using distro credit as a payment, is that being used a lot?...
It depends on what you use to run your distro. I have a shopping cart system so when someone gets distro credit I can actually make an electronic coupon that acts as a gift certificate. So that makes things easy.. But if you didn't have that keeping track of who has how much credit would be quite difficult.
--- i've only had that distro credit option asked from one zine-editor, so it's not that much work (yet). but i don't know if it will happen in the future, so i'll have to search PayPal for that gift certificate option. ---
... there isn't really a how-to guide specifically on how to start & run distro (or for zine-makers on how to work with distros), as far as i know anyway... would anyone be interested in collaborating in a project about that? Like a how-to/guide zine, compiling experiences and tips from other distro owners...
I'd be interested! That sounds like a great idea!
-- that's cool :) . i know you probably can't make it like a "how-to-make-a-zine" guide, because distro's can work in so many different ways (but zines can also be done in so many different ways too), but it's the gathering of advices, people's experiences, and tips that i think could useful to be put into a guide-like form. ---
Definitely let people place their orders and pay through snail mail and with cash. I only have a shopping cart system, and I've had about 5 people email me because they were confused about how to place an order (no joke).
--- i believe you, i myself have trouble with setting up the paypal system, so... LOL ---
Use the internet to help get your distros name out there.
--- so far, i've used Facebook and made a group page for the distro, while i post around other groups and pages that are about topics i want to get zines about or plan to have in the catalog. also used LiveJournal to post around asking for distro submissions, but in general it hasn't been getting me that far. since i was once a real internet addict, i know all about Hi5 and MySpace, so when the distro's catalog is up maybe i'll have to get an account on those two. ---
And I know everywhere it says you'll need to put in a lot upfront for your distro, but really you don't. There are easy ways to get cheap promo material for your distro, and there's cheap hosting.
--- oh yeah, i definitely can't afford site hosting, so i'm using Blogger to make a blog and turn it into a shop. kinda lame, no?
but i looked up some online shop websites, like Big Cartel, and they seem to have good options, but i'm not gonna risk paying a monthly fee to put up the store there. maybe in the future, but i'd have to start the thing from scratch...
as for cheap promo material, i'm not sure what you mean - like fliers or online advertising? ---
re famous zinesters - I don't think anyone's *too* famous that they won't consider your distro! They may wonder if you're legit or a scam but other than that even conventional famous people are often happy to hear from you :)
Regarding cash in the mail- if it's less than $5 or so and the person doesn't have a history of trying to scam free zines from you I'd say just send them the stuff. If they're being honest this is a good way to build good will and if they're not you're only out $5. If it's more than $5... I don't want to say it's the sender's fault because it isn't their fault it got lost in the mail, but it's not your fault either.
And I really don't understand why you'd be worried about approaching "famous zinesters" The worst they can do is say "no" which is no big deal. Quite frankly I'm not sure why you'd bother since people can pretty much get COMETBUS or BURN COLLECTOR anywhere so carrying these zines doesn't do your distro much good. You'd be better off giving more attention to lesser known, but still high quality, zines people can't get in a ton of other places.
well today i started my own distro, and i now have two zines for sale. my zine distro is called "E.T. zine distro". i dont think it was too difficult. i am planning on having more zines in my catalog, but 2 is good for a beginner i think. also i have experience with accepting flats to copy & assemble and it worked out okay. with payment, i'll tell people that want to buy the other zine in my catalog to put it straight into the other persons paypal!!! cause i dont deserve to be paid, i dont think any distro does.
oooh also, i am very lucky to have a Holly Fluxx zine in my catalog cause she's pretty famous, she's a rapper you know, and a proper artist n stuff!!!!