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

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.

One, excellent, source of zine reviews is 'Xerography Debt'. This zine and editor, Davida Gypsy Breier, are long standing pillars in an often transient zine community. Xerography Debt delivers insightful columns, scores of zine reviews, and contact addresses. Media Junky is also a good source, with prisoner friendly Jason Rodgers at helm.

The true difference between a published writer/artist, and one with stack of dusty work in their locker is not (solely) talent – it is dependent on motivation and effort. Creation is only half the formula for success. Creators must be willing to learn how to carry through with the plan to get their masterpieces before an appreciative audience.

Countless books, and periodicals like; ‘Writers Digest' will teach you how to break into commercial publishing. Zines and the zine community will provide opportunity and a forum to practice and refine your craft - And perhaps even make a name for yourself. Good luck to you all.

Some zine review zine contact addresses:

Xerography Debt ($3.00): c/o Davida Gypsy Breier, POB 11064, Baltimore, MD 21212

Media Junky ($1.00): c/o Jason Rodgers POB 62 Lawrence, MA 01842

Zine Reviewers Notebook ($2.00): c/o Doug Harrison POB 5291, Richmond, VA 23220

Microcosm Publishing (req. Zine catalog, $2.00): 636 SE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Garry Erwin #95B0644, Clinton Corr. Facility, Box 2000, Dannemora NY 12929

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

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