On Reviewing Zines

Festival of the Photocopier Haul

My friend Fishspit emailed me recently and asked that I review some different topics in zines. Reading that, I realised that, yes, I do tend to stick mostly in a certain arena. Part of that is because poetry and I have a relationship that consists of awkwardly staring at each other in complete silence. Another part of it is that I know very little about any sort of music scene. The rest is a bit of a jumbled mess.

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about reviews in general and how I haven’t really visited the topic since that one (and only) time I made a podcast on the subject. While I’m not quite in the space to make another podcast, I thought I’d write a bit about what’s going on in my head in regards to reviews.

My Reviewing Rules

*Only positive reviews… and neutral ones. True, sometimes a zine doesn’t exactly hit all the right spots for me, but I’m not here to simply trash anyone’s work. If I really don’t like it, I won’t review it.
*I won’t post street addresses. The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards posting post boxes in with reviews. But I’m still firmly a ‘no’ on the street addresses. I am biased by having been stalked in the past.
*I’m so-so about interior pictures. For me, it’s about length of zine. If I think a zine is short enough where a lot of the content will be ‘given away’ by revealing a picture, I won’t do it. I’m also a bit hesitant in general because that’s someone else’s art and/or words, but I have started to make the occasional exception.
*Requests for certain zine topics and such are totally okay! It’s all good so long as everyone understands that I can’t just drop everything and grab a zine on that topic. I’m limited by zine cost, postage cost, so on and so forth. But I will keep track of all requests.

Ideal Review Happy Mail

I’ve only been sent a few zines to review at this point. Most of what I put up still comes from my own stock with a small percentage of that being trades and such. Even so, I’ve come to appreciate certain things

*Telling me it’s for review/it’s okay to review. Even if we’re doing a trade, saying, “Hey, I’d love it if you reviewed this” is perfectly good. It lets me know that I should probably move it a smidge further up in the queue instead of sticking it behind my own stock.
*The date. This just makes my life easier and makes it a little less likely that the sender will have to wait months for a review.
*Contact details to share. I will mention it if these details aren’t in the zine itself, but it’s really nice to have them in one place rather than needing to go hunting them down. (Hunting for further information is fun. Hunting for basic details… not so much.)
*Your identifying pronoun. This is a bit of a new one to me, but I do want this to be a positive space. I read an article a while back about a zinemaker whose pronoun is ‘they’ was listed as ‘she’, and they were very upset about it. You know me – I don’t want to upset anyone. So if your name points a person to an assumption that is wrong, please mention your preference.
*When in doubt, type. I love a handwritten letter, but if it’s difficult to read the handwriting, mistakes are easily made. When it comes to the things listed above, I’d rather not make mistakes.

I’m sure there’ll be other things that I think of here and there in the future, but that well and truly covers it for now. I’m happy to be where I am, doing what I’m doing in a way that lets other people know about zines. Any requests that aren’t to do with reviewing are also welcome. 🙂

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