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So I am pretty new at this whole zine thing, but already I am facinated. This is what I have been searching for! I am so very excited to become part of this.

However, I have a road block: I have made a zine, I have looked at online distros, but I have not distributed beyond my close circle of friends and I have not asked for any zines 'cause i am sort of terrified of giving away my home address. I am under 18, I am a very private person when it comes to the stuff I create and buy. I'm not doing this behind my parents back or anything, just out of their way (I tend to be very much in their way with most projects, and I would like to avoid that with this).

Any ideas? Insights? should I just get over it? Or should I investigate a PO box? Can I even get a PO box as a minor? Just looking for ideas and information here.... thanks!

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I don't *think* you can get a PO box as a minor, but check the usps.com website if you live in the USA. I wouldn't advise on using your home address, but it is safe to include an e-mail address in your zine. If you are unable to get a PO box on your own, maybe ask an older friend or relative to open one up for you.

As far as distros, you can trust them with your home address. Learning to Leave a Paper Trail, Parcell Press, Sweet Candy Distro, my distro (Things You Say), and Click Clack are all good places. I'm sure there are others as well, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. I mean, they send zine orders to people all the time to their home address, so it's safe. And I know all of the distro owners above, and they are trustworthy people!

It's really exciting when you first start zining. Good luck :)
PO box would definitely be the way to go if you're private like that. No matter what community you're associated with, there will always be strange people...

Rates and things like that will vary, depending on size, keys, etc. so it's best to look it up at http://www.usps.com/receive/businesssolutions/poboxservice.htm for information regarding pricing and availability. Also, I do believe you can get one as a minor (I did a lot of research into this when I was considering getting one...then never got one, haha). I think you just need two or three forms of identification. You might need your parents' consent. Not sure.

Actually, I just found this on Google about minors and how to go about getting a PO.
http://www.tsroadmap.com/early/mailbox.html
Don't give out your home address! If you can't get a post office box of your own, maybe you could piggy back on the box of a person or organization with one.
Yay, thanks for the help, guys!

Yeah, I was thinking of piggy backing, but I really don't know who. I don't think anyone I know has a PO box. I don't think it is really common around here.

Thanks for that link, Patrick! One thing-- the later link you gave has a link to a form, and you must say if you are using the box for personal or business/organization use. I would think it was personal, but I am going to be using a pen name. I don't think that would affect anything, but could it? Do they really care about who the mail is addressed to? at home, I don't think they do but with a PO box might they? Probably doesn't matter.

Also: what do you think they will do if the mail is too big? will they roll it up to fit?

So many silly questions. :) sorry!
Well, of course, I'd apply with your real name because it says you have to have verifiable identification, and if the name you put doesn't exist...that could be potentially problematic. But after that, I don't think it really matters who it's addressed to, unless the post office keeps a close eye on your PO because you're a minor. But I doubt it. And it's not like you could control what the person sending a package puts as the recipient.
And I would probably put personal use. If you put business, they might try to interrogate you about what kind of business it is, what you sell, information about the business, etc. Plus I'm positive it means "officially established business" not "a business I conduct out of my bedroom." Lol.

Ruthie said:
Yay, thanks for the help, guys!
Yeah, I was thinking of piggy backing, but I really don't know who. I don't think anyone I know has a PO box. I don't think it is really common around here.
Thanks for that link, Patrick! One thing-- the later link you gave has a link to a form, and you must say if you are using the box for personal or business/organization use. I would think it was personal, but I am going to be using a pen name. I don't think that would affect anything, but could it? Do they really care about who the mail is addressed to? at home, I don't think they do but with a PO box might they? Probably doesn't matter.
lol, good point. Very wise.

Do you think a school ID would count as ID? I don't have a drivers license.

Patrick Golden said:
Well, of course, I'd apply with your real name because it says you have to have verifiable identification, and if the name you put doesn't exist...that could be potentially problematic. But after that, I don't think it really matters who it's addressed to, unless the post office keeps a close eye on your PO because you're a minor. But I doubt it. And it's not like you could control what the person sending a package puts as the recipient.
And I would probably put personal use. If you put business, they might try to interrogate you about what kind of business it is, what you sell, information about the business, etc. Plus I'm positive it means "officially established business" not "a business I conduct out of my bedroom." Lol.

Ruthie said:
Yay, thanks for the help, guys!
Yeah, I was thinking of piggy backing, but I really don't know who. I don't think anyone I know has a PO box. I don't think it is really common around here.
Thanks for that link, Patrick! One thing-- the later link you gave has a link to a form, and you must say if you are using the box for personal or business/organization use. I would think it was personal, but I am going to be using a pen name. I don't think that would affect anything, but could it? Do they really care about who the mail is addressed to? at home, I don't think they do but with a PO box might they? Probably doesn't matter.
Maybe you could get your parents to open a PO Box on your behalf, all they have to do was fill out a form and you could pay, and explain that you want to do penpalling, but don't want to give out a home address for safety reasons? I'm sure they'd be pleased that you were being responsible and thinking about your own safety
was pretty lucky when I got started into zines (I was a minor too) - my dad had a Po box and let me use it to put on the back of my zines. But I generally used my home address for distro orders and other things and all was good. I think it's smart not to give your home address out to everyone, yes. But distro orders are fine, the ones Erin (bibliophile) listed are great. Still, if you don't want to involve your parents, getting a po box would be a good bet - I'm not sure what the rules are in the US with that regarding minors though.

In australia, I share a po box with two other zinesters, and we don't always have our names in our projects so we get a lot of mail addressed to the zines themselves. It's never been a problem.
Have fun and good luck!
If i remember correctly i opened my first PO Box when i was still a minor because i had so much pen pal/zinester mail coming to the house and i just sort of wanted my parents out of my business. I did have a Driver's License tho.

If you don't have a Driver's License you should probably get a state issued ID card. You will need government issued ID to open the post box. If not, just ask your parents to open one for you for pen pals and such. I have mail that comes to my PO Box under a TON of different names, My actual name, My zine name, my distro name, Richmond Zine Fest, my husband's name etc... My post office doesn't have a problem with it at all. I explained to the clerks what i do, and they like me. :) Really all i had to say to them was, "I write a magazine (yeah,... i am not going to get into what zines are with them), I organize a festival for magazines, and i handle the sales of other people's magazines, hence all the names that things come for.
i feel like my first post office box was when i was a minor as well. i have never had a driver's license; i used a state ID card as identification. you can get one at your local RMV/DMV if you have a social security card & a copy of your birth certificate (or check your local RMV regulations for what proof of identification you need--it might differ from state to state). once you have a post office box, you can list whatever names you might get mail addressed to. i haven't had a post office box in a long time, but when i did, i filled out a form with my legal (at the time) name, my zine name (which is now my legal name), my zine name, my distro name, a friend's name, who was sharing the box with me. it's not too complex. usually the post office will just give you everything your box number on it anyway, no names necessary, but it can be good to let them know what names you might get stuff coming to so they know to give it to you. some post offices are sticklers for that stuff.

honestly, i use my home address now for mail stuff. the only problem i've had has been moving around & keeping my address current with pen pals, zinesters i work with through the distro, etc. i have a web address for the distro that always has my current address listed on it, so it's not tremendously complicated, but there have been a few changing address/mail snafus. i've never had a stalker show up on my doorstep or anything. in fact, once i even had a zinester who owed me zines show up on my doorstep & say, "here are the zines i owe you. i was in town so i thought i'd swing by & save on postage." that was nice! but post office boxes are nice too. i might get one the next time i move. (ps--get a personal box. business boxes are for, like, actual businesses, like your local tech shop or whatever.)
I think a school ID would be good. It's on that link I gave you.

It says these are best for your photo ID:
Driver’s license
State ID
Passport
School ID
Credit card or bank card with photo

And for non-photo:
Social Security card
Birth certificate
School ID without photo
Credit card or bank card without photo
Public library card without photo

I know that before I had my license, I had a photo school ID, a passport, a school ID without photo, a debit card, and a library card. I'm sure if you can find school IDs from two years of school (or if you have two for your current year) it would work fine. And I'm sure it's not against the rules to have two photo IDs instead of one and a non-photo, so two school IDs would probably work fine.

And maybe even your VOE from school if you can request it. Only you can request your own VOE, so it seems like it'd be a legitimate non-photo ID, but you never know.

Ruthie said:
lol, good point. Very wise.

Do you think a school ID would count as ID? I don't have a drivers license.
Also: what do you think they will do if the mail is too big? will they roll it up to fit?


At my post office, if something is too big to fit in the box (or I have more mail than will fit in the box), they stick a card in my box telling me that I can pick up my large item (or stack of mail) at the counter. That means I have to go in when the counter is open, which could potentially be a problem for someone who works or is in school during the hours the counter is open.

At my post office, there are different sizes of post office boxes offered. Bigger boxes cost more, but if you think you will get large packages and you can't get to the counter when it is open, you might want to splurge for a larger box.

Also at my post office, some boxes are opened with a key and others open via combination. You may want to think about what's easier for you, remembering a combination or remembering to have your key with you.

I like people's suggestions that you tell your parents that you need a PO box so you can get letters from pen pals. It's not a lie and parents might understand "pen pal" more easily than they will understand "zine."

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