D'Alliance Open Letter

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Open Letter
Title: D'Alliance Open Letter
From: Ronnie Sacksteder
Addressed To:
Date(s): July 4, 1983
Medium: print
Fandom: multimedia
Topic: cancellation of a fanzine
External Links:
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The D'Alliance Open Letter was published in Southern Enclave #4.

In it, a fan cancels a zine, a not-uncommon occurrence. What made this letter controversial is that the fan stated she was not refunding any of the deposits she'd taken for it over the years.

One thing that is unclear is why it took almost a year for the original letter to be publicized to the wider fandom audience.

The Letter

Open letter to everyone interested in or involved with D'ALLIANCE. July 14th, 1983. Dear friends, readers, and contributors: I regret to tell you that the zine, D'allince, cannot and will not be printed. As of this date, I have recieved 32 reservations since December of '81 and approximately 30 contributions for the zine. The contributions all are lovelv and gratefully appreciated. The reservations are nowhere near enough to meet the printinq estimates I have received. Furthermore, pre-publication costs have taken all moneys received to date, and I am, very regretfully unable to return the reservation fees. If this seems out of line, please take the time to confer with anyone else you may know who has successfully, or not, made the attempt to act a first issue off the platform. If this seems unbelievable, it is the truth, nevertheless. It was never my intention to attempt to cover the cost for printing this zine out of my own income. I am in considerably strained finances at the present time and I hoped that the subscriber/reservers to D'alliance would present themselves in sufficient numbers to enable me to go to press this fall. That was already a years delay from the original pub date. To delay any further would be strikingly unfair to everyone. I am asking all reserver/subscribers to be understanding of these matters, if you possibly can. I am requesting all my friends, especially those who have become friends while working on D'alliance, who have contributed to the tine to be understanding enough to SASE me for the return of your material. And please, keep in touch. I don't intend to gafiate, retire or otherwise dissappear from fandom. I intend to continue writing, fannishly or otherwise and have been sometimes a fair hand at turning out a poem, so if anyone's interested in my work, let me know. I love fandom, despite some of the wrangles and hassles, and a whole lot of my friends for the past eight (?) Arrgh! years live there, so I've no intention of losing touch. I have simply come to the conclusion that this project cannot be completed, certainly not to my satisfaction, or that of the other fen involved. Thanks and Brightest Blessings on ye. Ronnie Sacksteder

Reactions and Reviews

May 6, 1985 [1]. I have been reading zines for eight years and publishing the newsletter UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR for four of those eight. In that time, I have ordered a lot of zines through the mail and I've waited a lot of years for some of them. It took Diane Steiner three years to get me my copy of SPOCK ENSLAVED. I am still waiting for my copy of SENSUOUS VULCAN. (For those of you who don't recognize the reference, Ms. Steiner was one of the prototypical editors who cashed checks and disappeared.) It took me three years plus to get a refund from Janice Sidwell Smith. There have been others. But for all the mitigated gall, I think that Ronni Sacksteder takes the cake.

This woman has been taking deposits for several years for a zine called D'ALLIANCE. During that time, she sent reassuring messages that, despite the delay, "it was coming." Now, in April of 1984, I find that it was cancelled in July of 1983. It was not cancelled with a timely public announcement in any news- or letterzine that I subscribe to. It was cancelled in an "open letter" published in another zine. Furthermore, it was cancelled with NO REFUNDS. Specifically, "pre-publication costs have taken all moneys received to date, and I am, very regretfully, unable to return the reservation fees. If this seems out of line, please take the time to confer with anyone else you may know who has, successfully or not, made the attempt to get a first issue off the platform. If this seems unbelievable, it is the truth, nevertheless. It was never my intention to attempt to cover the costs for printing this zine out of my own income...." AS a reader and as an editor, I object, adamantly and vociferously. to Ms. Sacksteder's behavior. It is NOT acceptable, much less STANDARD, practice to refuse to refund money for a cancelled zine. I don't understand how a few hundred flyers could cost S80 ($2.50 deposit x 32 reservations), and I don't accept the validity of any other type of "pre-publication cost." Publishing a zine is a risky business. It takes time to break even, and during that time, the editor is at risk financially. If you don't intend to absorb initial costs out of your own pocket, then DON'T START a zine. According to her letter, Ms. Sacksteder does not intend "to gafiate, retire or otherwise dissapear (sic) from fandom" and offers her writing and poetry to anyone who is interested in publishing her work. I, for one, would like it clearly understood that I resent her belief that her behavior is acceptable. I do not find it to be so. Theft and fraud are damaging to all societies; they are especially destructive in a society where so many members must participate at a distance from each other that trust is an, if not THE, essential social glue. Editors who betray the trust that readers lace in them as blatantly as Ms. Sacksteder has done, should have no reasonable expectation of continued welcome in fandom.

Susan J. Bridges, editor, Universal Translator [2]
The letter from M. J. Barrowman-Harper on Jani Hick's behalf was a truly fascinating example of both condescension and intimidation. All references to Jani were written in the present tense, so I don't believe that she is dead, it's a shame that her coven sister had to write for her and that Jani can no longer speak for herself. Whatever the case, sending threatening letters isn't going to cancel out the fact that she owes money and that it should be paid back anymore than the saccharine sweet letter from Ronnie Sacksteder is going to take the onus of what she is doing off her. Both have taken money from people who sent it to them in good faith. Since no zines have been forthcoming or are going to be forthcoming from either of them and many letters have been written to them asking and finally demanding the return of the money sent, then some nethod of getting that money back must be taken. if threatening legal go to it! [3]

References

  1. 1985 is apparently a typo on the original author's side.
  2. from Southern Enclave #4 (May 6, 1984), Interstat #80 (June 1984), and Universal Translator #23 (April/May 1984)
  3. from Southern Enclave #5