i’m on distro vacation! yaaaaaaay!

what’s up with the weird rash of people that are suddenly being all sour grapes because distros decided against picking up their zines? “all these zine distros just carry the same shit anyway. they just have a few token out-lier zines to differentiate from one another & to look like they aren’t all the same. but actually i know that all these distro people get together & have formed a secret cabal that decides which zinesters get distro action & which ones have to make it work on their own dime.” these are paraphrasings, of course, but i think i have the gist down & it’s pretty obnoxious. if every zine distro is just like the next one, why do i get so many orders? & why did i place an order with a zine distro that is not mine yesterday afternoon? could it possibly have been because that distro had some zines i wanted to check out, zines i do not distro & have not read? MAYBE.

you know who doesn’t complain about zine distros being all the same & having boring taste & just carrying the same fifty zines by the same thirty pre-approved zinesters? people whose zines are good enough to get into distros. & trust me when i say that the bar is not that high. there are some distros out there with some truly shitty catalogues, not that i’m going to name names in a public forum. they know who they are. (well, they don’t…that’s kind of the point of having bad taste.) want to know a sure-fire way to make sure your zine is never carried by a distro, even if it’s really good? walk around with a sense of entitlement & complain about distro operators not properly kissing your ass & lavishing you with praise. i have stopped carrying zines i really liked in the past simply because the zinester was difficult to work with & gets on my last nerve. i’m certainly not going to pick up a zine that is just kind of iffy & blah when the zinester isn’t even a fun, respectful person with whom i want to work. running a distro is a shitload of work & it all goes a lot more smoothly when zinesters aren’t laying diva trips on me. how big a deal is it to be turned down from a distro anyway? just submit your zine to someone else, or write a new issue & try again, or sell your zines on your own.

man, i am so glad i am going on vacation & am not going to have to deal with any of this shit for a couple of weeks. i am not going to miss all the bullshit: standing in hour-long lines. fielding e-mails from people who want to know exactly why i turned down their zines so that they can prepare a counter-argument & try to bully me into taking some copies. dealing with people who send me unsolicited stacks of zines & then ask for money for them. people who write fucked up, offensive shit in their zines & then try to tell me how i’m wrong for being offended & disturbed. getting zines that are specifically exactly what i am NOT looking for, which is clearly stated in my submissions info. getting unsolicited & unacceptable PDFs. receiving six-page zines from people who say they’re charging $2 wholesale per copy (this really happened). coaching people through wholesale/retail pricing (not that a big a deal, but tiresome after a while). people who order zines one at a time, so that paypal takes a bite out of every single transaction & i lose a shitload of money on the order. i could go on. seriously, so much of the piddling shit work that goes into running a zine distro is beyond thankless–it’s infuriating.

(upon re-reading–sorry to swear so much. i am really making it sound like i hate running a zine distro. i don’t hate it. it’s just really aggravating sometimes & i need to vent.)

yay vacation! we leave tomorrow afternoon & have only had one small argument about how best to pack our suitcases! it’s not so easy to fit all the sweaters, wool socks, thermal pants, reading material, et al two people are going to need over the course of eight days into a single checked bag. our cat sitter is apparently stuck in alabama because the airline wouldn’t let him board his plane back to kansas with an expired ID, so we had to find a back-up cat-sitter–no mean feat when you live in a town where you barely know anyone, & almost everyone you do know is an out-of-town/state student also leaving for the holidays. but it all worked out & i think charlotte will be in good hands. i managed to blaze through my to-do list & take care of everything i needed to do before we leave town (including catching up on all my mail for the first time in six months), so it’s off to massachusetts with a clean slate. i am looking forward to a week of illicit cigarettes, red stripe, too much food, taking the subway, & snow.

everyone should congratuate jared on finishing his first semester of grad school. now he can finally get a full night's sleep!

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

4 thoughts on “i’m on distro vacation! yaaaaaaay!

  1. Oh man, I saw that discussion on WMZ. Hilarious. I kind of wanted to respond but really didn’t know what I could say to “waaah waaah waah, distros having some kind of standards for what they pick up hurts my tender feelings and also is OMG CENSORHIP.” People crying “censorship” just because of the POSSIBILITY that they and a distro owner may not see eye to eye? WHAAAT.

    1. seriously. the weird part is that i have actually read the zine in question–i got it for distro consideration sometime in the spring. i was on the fence about it, but ultimately, i wanted it to be better than it was. i liked the concept, but the execution was sloppy & disappointing, & there were a few weird pieces about getting over on other women by sleeping with their husbands/boyfriends that didn’t really strike me as the kind of feminist sentiment i really support, you know? i figured she’d probably sort herself out as a zinester & start making some good shit down the road & i’d carry her stuff once it developed a little bit more. but now…forget it. everyone is entitled to their opinions, but people who run distros are still people who are doing a shitload of work for zinesters for zero pay & little acknowledgment. maybe don’t shit all over us the nest time you want us to help you out!

  2. I never believed distro owners with the amount of work that goes into a distro until i started my own. I knew it was a ton of work… but nothing like I have experienced. It’s super disheartening to see these “pop-up” distros that are going to just fizzle and burn before doing anything.

    The zine in that thread… i have not read but just from the photographs of it alone, it seemed put together really haphazardly. Though, the subject matter does intrigue me. Like i said… i am just not ready to jump into carrying things that could be considered explicit as of yet.

    I hope you have a relaxing trip. You definitely deserve it!

    1. yeah, ericka warned me before i started my distro, & i was like, “got it, lots of work, i’m on board.” but nothing could have prepared for me. she even said, “imagine how much work you think it’s going to be when i say it’s more than you can imagine, & then multiply that by ten.” it’s just constant troubleshooting for people, answering questions, fixing mistakes, reading new zines, re-stocks, writing descriptions, trips to the post office, etc. it just never stops. & i don’t usually mind it. i am just so burnt out right now.

      i don’t really care that much when some new distro pops up & it seems obvious right away that they’re not going to last. it happens all the time, & it’s really nothing new. this is why i don’t just go around submitting my zines to every new distro that comes down the pipeline. i pretty much just kick back & wait for distro people to approach me (which i feel kind of guilty about, because i know i don’t go seeking out zinesters that don’t submit their stuff to me).

      i do carry some pretty explicit stuff (like the “dudes” zine, for example), so i’m not going to claim that it’s a big issue for me. but i do expect zines i carry to be decently-written & halfways well-laid out. i am willing to cut some slack on the writing sometimes if the ideas & the visual execution are exemplary, & i’m willing to cut some slack on the layout if the writing is a cut above, but mediocre writing & boring layout? pass.

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