We Make Zines

a place for zinesters - writers and readers

The art of scamming came up in the thread about zine publishing being too expensive these days. Back in the '70s, '80s and '90s zinesters used all kinds of scams to publish cheaper or for free. Many of these scams are no longer possible, but many are, and there are new tricks also out there. We used to share scamming tips on alt.zines and through the letter pages of zines, why not do so in a thread on We Make Zines? What tricks can you share? Where do you cut corners to save money?

I'll start:

-Writing, editing, doing layout on work time and computers
-Using work scanners, laser printers and copy machines on the sly for your zine
-Stealing Sharpies, white out and blank paper from corporate chain copy shops like Kinkos (you can grab full reams of paper out of copy machines and load them in your bag if you're crafty). And stealing Sharpies is popular enough to make it into the title of one of the most popular zine chapbooks :)
-Soap your stamps when trading. Use actual postage stamps, rub bar soap over them until there is a thin film covering the stamps, then include a note with your zine that the stamps are soaped and can be reused. The person trading with you can use a wet cloth and wipe off the postal cancellation marks, cut out the stamps, glue them to the envelope they are sending a trade zine back to you in, and presto, only one of you has to pay postage.

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In the UK the recipient gets charged for any shortfall in postage

W. Alan Fare said:
My first wife used to glue-stik all her stamps when we did a zine, but that was back in the '80s. Another trick she used to do I always thought was classic: She would address review copies with our address and put the place she was sending it to in the return address place. Then she'd put a postcard stamp on it and drop it in the mail. It was amazing how many zines got shipped all over the country because the post office would "return" them for insufficient postage!
yeah, you can put no stamp or even half a stamp on an envelope and usually it will still get sent - the most reliable way to post for free is to get 2 different addresses from the person you're sending to , and put one as the return address, so either way it will get there! This is a good method, but im always a little nervous of asking people for 2 seperate addresses....
Stephanos said:
In the UK the recipient gets charged for any shortfall in postage

Yeah, in my experience, this is what often happens in the US now too. Especially with heavier packages but I've definitely paid postage due on a few letters in recent years.

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