How To Start A Zine Distro
The first thing you want to decide is how you are going to accept zines for your distro. There are two ways of doing this:
Flats – A flat is a single (and can be double) sided version of zines before it has been folded and stapled. If you decide to do it this way, you just go to the print shop and make a copy everytime someone orders a zine. You can go once a week and make all your copies at once and save some time and trips to the printer. If there is any profit to be made, it goes to you. The zine writer gets no compensation from you.
Wholesale – You can work out a deal with a zine writer to buy a number of copies of the zine and then sell them through your distro. This is a lot easier since you don’t ever have to go to the printers and you don’t have to worry about folding and stapling. This may require money up front, but a lot of zine writers will sell them in bulk for cheaper. You can also work out a consignment deal, where the zine writer sends you their zine and you pay them every time you sell a copy. You can also pay them at specified intervals throughout the year. If there is any profit to be made, it goes to you. You shelled out the money for the zines so you get whatever money is left over.
It’s all up to you as to which way you want to run your distro. Some people prefer flats and some prefer wholesale.
* A good rule of thumb is to find out how much the zine writer charges for the zine and then sell them for the same price. That way you aren’t charging more or less for the zine and it won’t really matter where the person gets the zine from. The ideal purpose of a distro isn’t to make money, it should be about getting zines out that otherwise might not be known in your area.
* Once you’ve decided how you are going to run your distro, it’s time to look for zines to carry! You have to decide what kind of zines you want to carry – whether you want personal, political, informative, riot grrrl, hardcore, punk, straight edge, ska, or whatever kind of zine. An excellent place to find zines is on the Internet. Do a search for zines through search engines, World Wide Punk, mailing lists, zine webrings, etc. Check out the content and then e-mail the editor and ask about distroing their zine. You can place ads on people’s message boards and guestbooks calling for zines. If there are other zines in your area, talk to the editors and see about distroing them as well. Making a webpage for anything, including a distro, will increase your chances of getting zines to carry.
* You’ll want to make a catalog for the zines (and other items that you decide to carry) and advertise it. Most people won’t pay for smaller catalogs so it’s best to just ask for stamps. It’s also good to have on file the zine writers’ addresses and websites if they have them, in case people want to contact them or check out the zine before they buy it.
* It takes a lot of hard work and time to run a zine distro, and it gets a lot more complicated when you start adding other items to your catalog such as music, clothing, pins, etc. You pretty much handle everything like you would a zine – you can buy wholesale or sell on consignment.
* This obviously is only a start on how to start up a zine distro – every distro works differently and there is a ton of work involved, depending on what you stock and how many orders you get. Be patient with yourself and don’t overwork yourself. This should be a fun experience, not a headache!