I woke up early Saturday morning, rolling over and groaning as the alarm on my phone went off, and I allowed myself an extra ten minutes before finally pulling myself out of bed. A shoe box full of freshly printed and assembled zines sat on the couch, and my stomach twisted a little when I walked by it to go brush my teeth and wash and dry my bangs. I don’t think I even had breakfast, instead packing snacks for while I was gone.
And an hour later, after I was dressed and presentable (I guess?), Dan and I headed out: a stop at the bank to get some cash, a stop at Staples to make some last-minute copies as soon as they opened, and on to the Pioneer Valley Zine Fest, where I tabled for the first time.
Finishing most of my prep the night before. // The view from behind my table.
It was as fun as I expected (which is to say, quite fun), but I was still riddled with nerves not only when I got there but through every hour until I packed up to leave. Every time someone came by the table, I was a ball of worry and awkwardness, whether anyone noticed or not. I made jokes the whole night before that I wouldn’t sell any, or I’d only make $5, and I was kind of right. I ended up either selling or trading fifteen of the fifty copies I brought, but I only left with $6 after buying a couple for myself and paying for my table. That was to be expected, though; it’s not like selling zines is exactly lucrative.
I also had a bit of fun setting up my quarter table, even though it only took me about two minutes. I ended up sharing with a guy from Connecticut who does does a comic called Crust Dog (it was super cute), and he was nice to talk to.
I think my favorite part really was the people. Even though talking to everyone made me feel awkward, everyone was so nice, and I got a lot of positive comments on the zines people bought and read throughout the day. Plus, I got to finally put faces to the zines and organizations that I’ve known or read about for a while, so that was a bit of a bonus.
I’m especially proud of myself for signing the mailing list to hear about the zine fest they’re planning in Boston. On the one hand, I really enjoyed how small the Pioneer Valley Zine Fest was because I got to talk to people and could leave my table once in a while to browse what others had brought. But on the other, it might be interesting to try tabling at a bigger zine fest, at least once, if the one in Boston ends up drawing a lot of people.
Ultimately, I’m glad I went. I feel like I really accomplished something. I learned what worked and what didn’t. (Putting things off until the day before definitely did not.) And I spent my afternoon surrounded by amazing people doing amazing things. Now I’m just waiting for the next zine fest!