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Zinester Life

My 3 Favorite Zine Distros

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1.6.15 / zine crate
I feel like I’ve probably mentioned all three of these places before at some point or another, but I just can’t help dedicating an entire post to them. There are a whole slew of distros available to choose from (and I’ll include a short list at the bottom, just for some variety), but these three are my absolute favorites. I’ve gone back to them time and again over the years that I’ve been reading and ordering zines, and I just want everyone to know about them, okay?

Stranger Danger. / Stranger Danger is so excellent and simple. You can count on their catalog being made up mostly of traditional, cut-paste-copy zines, and every single piece I’ve ordered has been so intensely personal and fascinating. Some favorites I’ve received include Truckface, Motor City Kitty, and Dig Deep (which, coincidentally, is written by Heather, who runs the distro). I don’t know if you could ever go wrong with ordering from here. It’s such a great selection and the some of the most hospitable service.

Pioneers Press. / Pioneers Press is my most recent discovery, and I think they’re probably my favorite. The DIY Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad was one of the first items I ordered from them, and I’ve been invested ever since. They have a much wider selection than Stranger Danger, and I think that contributes to my affection. I constantly check for updates–which is probably unnecessary, seeing as I also get their monthly newsletters–and am borderline creepy on tumblr. (P.S., It’s not uncommon that I receive extra little goodies!)

Fight Boredom. / Unlike the other two, Fight Boredom is a distro out of Canada, and Amber is the first person I ever ordered zines from, so maybe it’s a little bit nostalgia talking, but this is such a wonderful, super underground little distro. Amber stocks a lot of stuff similar to Stranger Danger, but the catch is that it takes a little more work to order. With Fight Boredom, you have to add up both the prices and the weights listed beside each zine, look up what the weight equates to in shipping cost, and put it all together in your payment (via either Paypal or good ol’ fashioned snail mail).
1.6.15 / zines
Other distros I know of but may or may not have ordered from yet: Sweet Candy | Portland Button Works | Antiquated Future

Of course, there’s also the old stand-by of Etsy, though at times that can get a bit overwhelming with the sheer variety of options. Still, if you don’t necessarily want to start with distros (because you already have an Etsy account or something), then Etsy, as well as Storenvy, are both valid options. Once in a while I’ve even seen some from the ’90s up for grabs on eBay with the rampant riot grrl nostalgia of the past few years, but sometimes they can get a little costly.

If you decide to dive into one–or all!–of these options, let me know where and what you get and what you think! It’s the most exciting thing to me when people start reading and/or making zines.

January 7, 2015

Support This!: What We Talk About When We Talk About Punk

What We Talk About When We Talk About Punk
A couple of weeks ago I backed this book on IndieGoGo. As soon as I had the money from a new paycheck, I was throwing it at this fund; I’ve read two issues of Jessie’s zine Reckless Chants so far, along with so much of her writing that appears on her tumblr, and I am head over heels for her work. It’s raw and a little uncomfortable; it’s unafraid and earnest. It’s inspiring in its honesty. It’s a level of skill and courage I hope to achieve someday.

So when I checked the page over the weekend, I was bummed to see that it wasn’t already 100% backed like I feel it totally should be and thought, “I should probably share this on my blog in case anyone would be interested (because everyone should be interested).” Jessie is a fabulous writer and several of her pieces appear in the first issue of Wonderlust. If you’re iffy about whether or not you want to back the project, please order a copy or some of her zines or just go look at her tumblr to get an idea of how prodigious her work is.

From the funding page:What We Talk About When We Talk About Punk is a collection of some of my writings about punk – both non-fiction and fiction – spanning nearly fifteen years. It’s a look at my little corner of the punk scene, and everything punk has meant to me. From love affairs to getting wasted, from self-destruction to survival, from the death of old friends and heroes to hearing that one perfect song, from wanting to quit punk to realizing I never can – it’s all in here.”

And before you say, “But I’m not punk–why would I want to read that?” I just want to say, excuse me, are you a wizard? Are you a hobbit? Are you fighting for your claim to the throne (rightful or otherwise)? Probably not–but maybe you are?–so I’m only asking that you don’t write this off without a second thought as something you’re not interested in just because you don’t think you can relate. When the writing is good enough (and hers is), it resonates far and wide.

If you do decide to back this, please let me know! I want every reason to get even more excited than I am for this book.

December 24, 2014

Zine Update: Wonderlust #001 + a Giveaway

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12.21.14 / wonderlust issue one
12.21.14 / wonderlust issue one table of contents
It’s here! It’s done! It’s ready!

Last week I took the files for the first issue of Wonderlust into work and had them printed up in about fifteen minutes on Wednesday morning. Then I sat around waiting to pay for them so I could mail out the contributor copies. Then I made everyone wait all weekend for it to finally be available because I like starting things on Mondays. (Sorry.)

This first issue is a fabulous mix of poetry and prose, and I’m over the moon with how it’s turned out. The cover is beautiful, and the works inside range from gritty to heartbreaking (and sometimes a little bit of both). I do hope people love it as much as I do. I was surprised by how thin it feels despite coming in at twenty-four pages, but I think that’s impressive for a first issue anyway. Of course, I also love the layout, not to toot my own horn or anything. I just think it looks so good, inside and out! I’m in love, okay?
12.21.14 / wonderlust giveaway partial prizes
To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m giving away a copy of the first issue, along with something of a “zine starter pack.” (Kind of. Not really?) It includes a copy of the newest edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution, plus a mystery selection of zines that I spent Friday night choosing and ordering from Portland Button Works. It’s a collection of some zines I love and some I’ve never read and some of my own simply because I love giving away my own things once in a while.

(Of course, if you don’t want to wait, you’re welcome to order a copy of Wonderlust from the zine shop or Etsy.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 22, 2014

Zine Talk: Prices, Accessibility, and Why I Don’t Want to Charge More than $5 an Issue

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11.18.2014 / zine collection
If you search through the zines on Etsy, you’ll find a variety of styles, genres, and prices. Prices are, of course, one of the details that stand out to me when I’m browsing, not just based on my wallet, but also the fact that as someone who writes and sells zines, I have to put thought into what my work is worth. In the past few years, I’ve started to notice zines ranging anywhere from a quarter to ten, twelve dollars a copy. Sometimes I’ll roll my eyes at those higher prices, sometimes I’ll be interested enough to overlook that and add them to my favorites, my someday to-buy list. My feelings on this topic have changed over the years, and they still change almost daily. In fact, they’ve changed a number of times as I’ve written

Part of me wants to scoff at higher-priced zines and believe that they shouldn’t be more than a certain price. (I mean, at that point, can they still be considered zines? It’s complicated.)

But the other part of me asks, Why shouldn’t zinesters, any zinesters, be able to make an actual profit off of their writing and art? It takes effort and time just like anything else you could get paid for without judgment. People online make money for plenty of other things, so why not zines? So I berate myself for being so hard on others.

I’ve always had this idea that zines shouldn’t be more than five dollars. I have no recollection of where that number came from or why I started to think that, but there it is. That magic number that stands out whenever I’m browsing for zines, and this elitist-yet-not part of me tends to side-eye a little bit at people with the gall to charge more than that for their zines, as if I know what they’ve put into it or the quality of the content or anything of that nature just from an Etsy listing.

Sometimes I’m kind of a jerk.

My personal feelings still stand that I don’t want to price any of my own zines higher than five dollars, partly due to the fact that I want my zines to be accessible to people. I have trouble justifying spending so much on zines sometimes, and other times I don’t have two dollars to spare for an order, much less ten dollars. I don’t want people to see my zines and feel burdened by the thought of not being able to order one that they want. (This is also why I’m enthusiastic when anyone suggests a trade—I just want my work out there, however it gets there.)

But I know it’s not the same for everyone. Some people can’t afford to give their work away. Realistically, I can’t either, but I also want my work to be available. It’s why I blog without sponsors, something else I have conflicting opinions about, and it’s why I hide my zines in public places. I want my work out there where people can see it and, hopefully, enjoy it. But not everyone wants to make that sacrifice and not everyone can and maybe not everyone should.

While on the one hand, I think I’m a little justified in my apprehension, if only because those lower prices are what I learned as a part of zine culture when I first began getting involved, I also know that maybe I just need to suck it up and stop being so judgmental.

I’m curious what anyone else thinks, because I know pricing is a big deal for a lot of my online friends with businesses, and people in general looking to buy, so please share your thoughts with me on this one.

November 19, 2014

Zine Update: Small Parts #003 Now Available

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11.17.2014 / small parts 003: front cover
I’ve been on a roll lately, and now Small Parts #003 is out and ready to order! Small Parts always seems to be the less popular of my two regular zines, but I still love putting out, waiting and hoping for someone to stumble by and order a copy or ask for a trade. There’s something a little different about such a small zine with fiction and poetry, rather than the personal non-fiction of One-Girl Bicycle Club.

As always, you can order via the Etsy shop or send me an email at sonyaeatszombies [at] gmail[dot]com.
11.17.2014 / small parts 003: atlas
11.17.2014 / small parts 003: back cover

November 18, 2014

Zine Update: One-Girl Bicycle Club #006 Now Available

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11.11.14 / ogbc6 front cover
It’s here! Finally! Yesterday afternoon I put the finishing touches on my newest zine, and I think it’s grown on me over the past couple of days. It’s still not perfect, but nothing I put out ever will be.

This zine has literally been at least six months in the making, and I’m glad to finally get it out of my hair and onto the internet. It’s been a kind of weight hanging on me as I struggled to finish, and it’s nice to be able to move onto my next project without the constant self-editing and critiquing of this issue holding me back.

One-Girl Bicycle Club #006 is about struggling with self-care, pop-punk, broken friendships, body image, and identity.

Available in my Etsy shop or you can drop me an email at sonyaeatszombies[at]gmail[dot]com
11.11.14 / ogbc6 inside

November 11, 2014

Considering Zine Identity and Where to Go From Here

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10.31.14 / zines
I started this issue of One-Girl Bicycle Club months ago. I started it, and I scrapped it, and I started again. And now I’m here with an issue ready to copy and assemble, and while I’m glad to be finished, I’m still not content. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel up to potential.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of starting over with my zine. I’ve been considering a whole new identity. I started One-Girl Bicycle Club when I was a junior in college. It was my first attempt at a zine at all, and I’ve learned so much since then. I’ve read so many different other zines since then. I know I’ve changed and my tastes have changed over the least two and a half years, so I’m just not sure how I feel about it anymore.

Do I want a new name? Or just a new format? Do I want a new approach to perzines entirely? A break?

I don’t even know.

(Okay, no. Definitely not a break. I can say that with confidence.)

What I do know is that it doesn’t feel quite like it fits anymore, and I know that I feel overwhelmed with the possibilities of what it could be compared to what it is.

For a few months now I’ve been enamored with text-heavy, half-size zines (think Cometbus), and I can’t stop thinking about them. They feel so much more pensive and poignant than, well, than mine. I first modeled mine after a handful of zines that I’ve adored for years–years!–and I still do, but I don’t know if that style, that approach, is still effective for me and my goals.

Naturally, determining my goals would be a helpful approach to understanding all of this, but I’m finding it difficult to articulate what I have in mind–other than that I want my zine to be more, whatever that means. I want it to be more thoughtful, more resonating. While a facelift isn’t required for any of that, I can’t help wondering if it would give me more momentum, a clean slate, because right now I’m not feeling it. I keep wanting to put out an issue, but I can’t seem to connect with this issue enough to care about it. Sure, I’ll finish it, but I’m in no hurry. I’m not excited to release it into the world; it doesn’t feel like something worth getting excited about.

And I can’t help but wonder if a change is exactly what I need. I swapped my blog over to a self-hosted set up, redid the layout to something I love, and have been filled with nothing but ideas since then, so logic tells me that’s what I need for my zine, too: a big change, something to shake things up. So maybe I will. Maybe I’ll start from scratch–new name, new look, new everything.

Maybe not.

November 3, 2014

Panic! At the Editor’s Desk

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There’s about a month until the deadline for the first issue of Wonderlust, and I admit I’m beginning to worry. I was hoping for a bit more of an influx of submissions and instead I’ve received…three: some poetry and cover art. Reblogs on tumblr have slowed to a crawl and instead of excited anticipation at each email notification buzzing on my phone, I’m laden more and more often with preemptive disappointment.

This is one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on alone, and my impatience and excitement are spawning loads of insecurity. Do I have enough of a reach to get any submissions? Am I too boring for people to be interested in submitting? Am I too aggressive with my posts? Am I reblogging and tweeting too much? I DON’T KNOW. All I’m doing is worrying, and I think we can all agree that’s not going to be helpful in the long run.

I just want this to be successful, and for that to be even remotely possible, I need more than a couple of submissions. This isn’t a project that I can carry the bulk of. This is a comp zine; it takes more than my efforts alone.

One of my bigger-yet-achievable dreams over the past few years was to start some kind of literary zine. I looked into a variety of publishing formats, from Issuu to a WordPress site to tumblr, but I decided on print because I can’t shake the idea of people being able to physically read and reread pieces someone else has written, not because I have anything against digital versions, but because I think there’s something to be said for having a copy you can keep on your desk or your shelf or, if you’re like me, your milk crate beside your desk. And I finally put forth the effort to work on this project, so I can’t help feeling a little anxious about how well it’s going to turn out.

October 20, 2014

One-Girl Bicycle Club #006: A Preview

09.17.14 / zine writing

So about a month ago Jenna made the completely logical suggestion that I share some excerpts of what I write for my zines so I don’t have to worry about separating the two so much, which was something I discussed struggling with. While my newest issue isn’t quite finished (yet), I did work on writing some more for it today, and I thought I’d share a bit of what I started, sort of like a preview.

“There are so many different kinds of people I wish I could be: intellectual writer in a coffee shop, working + observing; badass punk girl stomping around town, black coffee in hand; hipster photographer always seeing and capturing everything, bordering on annoying. But when I think of doing something even close to approaching these types of lives, something stops me. I get scared, even just to leave the house and bike to the best coffee shop we have (and, frankly, it isn’t that good if you like fancy sugary lattes like I prefer, which also puts me out of the running for hardcore punk girl). So instead I sit here, on my front porch with the cars going by and by and by and the people walking or running or biking past, and maybe I write or read. Maybe I only stay a few minutes before I get bored. (Or cold, like I’m feeling today.) Knowing who I am and how that fits with who I want to be is always a struggle, because I tend to be a fatalist; all the persons I want to be are incompatible. I have to pick one and stick with it.”

I stopped there while I was outside because I got stuck, so I’m taking a break to share and mull over where else I want to go with the piece. I’m only a few pages short of my final goal for this issue, so I’m hoping to get it typed up and ready to assemble by the end of the week. I think I just might reach all of my goals for the month.

(P.S., How ’bout that Game of Thrones shirt, eh? It’s got Jon Snow’s face on it.)


September 17, 2014

Wonderlust Literary Zine

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I did it! I finally came up with a title for the literary zine, and I’m kind of in love with it. (And I kind of hope you are too.)

One morning last week, as I was getting ready for work, the word “wonderlust” popped into my head. I didn’t know if it was a real word or anything, but it had that kind of similarity to “wanderlust” without being exactly that, which I correctly assumed has been used for some zines already, so I had already decided against it. The first thing I did was google “wonderlust” when I got home from work in the afternoon, and I spent days looking up different phrases and search possibilities to see if it would work for the literary zine without too much complication, and after a lot of back and forth with Dan, we’ve come to the agreement that it’s good to go.

Next, I set to work setting up a call for submissions graphic and deciding on a timeline for the issue (and each issue to follow), and now my mind is reeling with ideas and plans. I was so excited Saturday night that I didn’t even fall asleep until about five in the morning; my brain just kept working and plotting, which I take to be a sign of a good idea.

I’m excited to work on a zine that gets to feature other people’s work, because sometimes it’s fun just to put one together without all the effort it takes to write the content myself. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, since sometime in college, but now I finally have the motivation and the resources to really charge forward with it.

September 15, 2014