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Making Your Bones In Creative Arts: A Quicker, Easier Way To Publishing Success

June 6, 2015


ZINE  noun \ˈzēn\ : a small magazine that is written by people who are not professional writers and that usually has stories about a particular subject


Full Definition of ZINE : magazine; especially :  a noncommercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter <a feminist zine>


Breaking into the commercial publishing industry can be a tough nut to crack. Literally, millions swell the ranks of aspiring writers, artists and lyricists.


While self-publishing is an expedient and effective means, many prisoners lack the capital to fund that approach. An alternate route is contributing one's writing, artwork, etc., to ‘zines.’


Zines are small press, independent media or self-printed publications. They are often distributed via underground or casual forms of transactions; traded like publications, cash, stamps or exchange for 'letter of comment’.  The zine creators, readers and dedicated reviewers, make up a 'community' which spans the globe. The lively correspondence and good will embodied in this community sets it apart from mainstream/corporate publishing world.


Content freedom is yet another key attraction of zines. Where corporate presses are restrictive, zines are anarchistic. Free of censorship and moral boundaries, think; 'paper internet'.

Unlike mainstream publications, zine editors do not discriminate due to incarceration status. In fact, many are sympathetic and intrigued by prisoner’s energy, perspective and the 'edge' born of authentic life experience.


Finding and contacting zines to submit contributed works to is simple. Various zines are: zine review zines; providing columns of interest to zine community, reviews of zine, along with contact information. As with any interpersonal interaction, it is important to behave in a polite and courteous manner.


Remember that most zine creators are not in this to make money, and as such have little patience and tolerance for rudeness and 'Game.’ Read terms of offering carefully and respect their wishes. If they say 'free' great - but if not, don't beg for freebies. You only burn these sources out, and make all prisoners look bad. Some zines specify: 'No sales to prisoners / Not free to prisoners', as a direct result of them being abused or taken advantage of by prisoners in the past.


On the brighter, flip side - zine creators thrive on interacting with writers, artists and readers. Many quality and long-term relationships (not romantic - please don't hit on zine girls ...) are formed through zines.

Guidelines for zine submissions are generally pretty loose, but it pays to query the editor along with a S.A.S.E. Simple courtesies pay big dividends in all forms of correspondence interactions. With much of the outside world communicating electronically, it surely helps to make it easy and convenient to respond to you. Alternately, keep in mind that zines normally feature shorter pieces of writing, and 'copy ready' artwork. Before submitting work, it's always a good plan to obtain and read an issue of targeted zine first. Becoming familiar with scope of content, themes and tone will serve as great guide to choose or create items that would best fit into that publication. This is not to say you should 'clone' the work you see there - But submitting material radically different will reduce chances of acceptance.


Getting published in zines will not earn you money, (most editors will send you some extra copies). It will mark milestones of your work in print. With good social skills and perseverance, you become 'known' in the zine community - and build upon that beginning to bigger and better formats and even the mainstream publishing realm.