The Nut Hatch Fundraiser

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Title: The Nut Hatch Fundraiser
Creator: Jane of Australia and Nut Hatch Press
Date(s): 2000 (around August or September)
Medium: online
Fandom: many
Topic:
External Links: The Nut Hatch Fundraiser, Archived version
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The Nut Hatch Fundraiser is a 2000 essay by Jane of Australia.

It addresses some bad management decisions and large debt Nut Hatch Press had at the time, why the situation got so bad, and some percieved solutions.

Some Topics Discussed and Illustrated

  • over-investment in fandom
  • relying on others
  • bad management decisions and trust
  • getting out of debt by selling more debt: "Thank you for your forbearance, and also — thank you in advance for helping us through this difficult time by investing in quality Nut Hatch Products."
  • Bill Hupe
  • fandom and profit, bad teeth and the desire for furniture
  • Christmas is coming, and perhaps some fannish goods would make nice gifts!

From the Essay

Part One: THE PROBLEM

Now, here's a page we'd prefer not to be writing — and it's a difficult page, because the situation has become so complex, and not a little desperate! It's not a question of the Press's survival (Betty Ann and Jackie Beeman between them are holding several thousand dollars' worth of zines, which means the press is in good shape!) ... it's a question of personal survival here.

It should be fairly obvious that most of that stock being held by the distributors was produced here, shipped out of HQ in Australia ... and was financed by a very small pool of dedicated fannish publishers who need to sell those zines before break-even point can be reached.

In fact, the "small pool" of financiers has dwindled to one: JJ is currently "holding the baby" as the sole remaining financial backer ... and the story gets worse. For the benefit of those tuning in late, we'll backstory the saga ... right back as far as 1991!

Part Two: THE HISTORY

It was "the Golden Age" when Nut Hatch was expanding, and Entropy was in a kind of revival. We were frankly thrilled to be offered the services of a dedicated fannish distributor. There's an old saying: "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." It was.

The short version is, a lady called Kandi Clarke took masses of orders for "in progress" titles. Never sent the money to us ... and vanished with over four thousand bucks.

Not unnaturally, the folks who had ordered from her wrote to HQ in Aus, and asked "What happens now?"

To safeguard our good name, we delivered every single copy. Yep, every zine ordered was printed at the press's expense, and delivered. The "press debt" started right here, because the only way to cover this outlay was by borrowing. Okay so far.

A year or so later, we got another offer from a guy called Bill Hupe, one of the best-known distributors in the business. He "did all the cons," and had all the contacts. He was one of the big guys in the trade, and when he offered to carry Nut Hatch- Entropy, it looked like there was a chance for us to trade our way out of debt after the Clarke debacle.

The plan was, if you could sell 1000 zines, with a A$4 "markup" on each one, you'd be out of debt! Easy, when Mr. Hupe swore he could sell 100+ copies of a good Trek zine any day.

The result was a disaster.

We supplied many, many hundreds of zines for "con stock." We were paid ... for few. Then Mr. Hupe also vanished, and with him went another five thousand bucks' worth of stock.

The press was now over NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS in the hole.

Meanwhile, Betty Ann Brown had developed a nice circuit of clients and was doing promising business. Business was good enough that we supplied "extra" zines on top of orders as the years went by ... and then one day business just quit. There is simply a point where you reach market saturation: you can't find any more new customers. That's the bottom line.

Unfortunately, this bottom line has been reached with Betty Ann still holding $2000's worth of stock!

And what about the nine grand from before?!

Well, we've traded hard for most of a decade, wheeled and dealed, and slowly whittled the press debt down to just under the $3000 mark. That debt has been refinanced over and over, as one Nut Hatch backer after another left the group, and quite naturally, needed to take their money out.

The last one left holding the bag is JJ. And if you would take a moment out right here to read the story of her life at this time in JJ's Domestic Trivia, you will soon see that she is no longer able to support the press debt.

While zines were selling fast (10 - 20 titles per week on average in a good year), the turnover rate was high enough for the debt to be steadily whittled away at $3/copy "markup." This is how we've traded down $6000 of the debt (we won't even talk about the interest rates ... the last twice the debt has been refinanced has been on personal loans, ie., the bank. The last of it is "money shifted" in a fancy dance involving credit cards ... you don't want to know).

If you've had a quick look at the Domestic Trivia, you will know that JJ now is in a process of house hunting, buying furniture, and in recent weeks a couple of sad events have piled up credit card bills. With empty bank accounts and maxed-out credit cards ... suddenly there's a car that needs work, TEETH that need fixing, a house full of furniture to be obtained ...

And at this time, Nut Hatch-Entropy sales have almost quit.

The truth is, it's time for the press debt to be unloaded ... it's a question of personal survival, and a "crunch point" has been reached where the person who did the most for the press for more than a decade is being punished the hardest.

What's the answer to all this?

Simple. Raise three grand, fast!

Not so simple.

Part Three: THE SOLUTION

Well ... we put our heads together and came up with a bundle of ideas. The only practical thing we can do is ... The Fundraiser.

Before anyone says a word or thinks the thought, asking for donations was never on our minds! In fact, we wouldn't accept donations even supposing they were offered. Nut Hatch-Entropy has been run on a non-profit business footing since the begining [sic], and it's going to remain a "business."

However, it's painfully clear that a so-called "profit" is going to have to happen, because when fannish merchandise is sold for the cost of manufacture, nothing is achieved here. So...

A range of fannish products with a built-in profit margin. Good quality, unique, never-before-offered items. Or, one-of-a- kind items, such as press kits and photos from our personal collection. A shelf full of books. Pre-loved zines: "everything has to go!"

The range of fannish products we have under design at this time are disk-based Windows wallpaper featuring digital art, on THE PROFESSIONALS, DUE SOUTH, STARSKY & HUTCH ... full-color "souvenir cover sets" for the classic zines, featuring all-new digital art, and produced on a high-resolution printer with better output than some lithos (1200x1200dpi). Bookmarks. Clipart packs. Eventually, screen-savers. Limited edition art prints, where a digital painting is produced, output in runs no higher than 20, mounted, signed, numbered, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and a guarantee that no more than 20 will ever exist. And to begin with ...

A limited printrun, special issue of a long-time favorite, a classic that has never been put between covers before. This one is specifically for Nut Hatch readers:

RAINY DAYS: The Early Stories. 135,000 words, all the early stories in one beautifully produced volume, richly illustrated, with color covers. The edition will be restricted to 50 copies only; each copy will be signed and numbered, and the zine ... which is almost a work of art in itself ... will carry a certificate of authenticity.

What's the catch? There are two. First: These are the same stories that have been in circulation for a long, long time. You've read them before. But never properly typeset, never via the medium of a beautiful Desktop Published book. Never with rafts of new artwork. Second: the price. In order for a zine to help pay off the press debt, it has to cover its own costs and contribute significantly to the project. RAINY DAYS: The Early Stories will be compressed into 150pp maximum ... and it'll have to sell for about A$28 + postage.

The good news is: the Australian dollar is now at an all-time record low, under .55! Supposing the currency stabilizes here for a time, the exchange rate practically reimburses you for our profit margin!

[much clipped about other things for sale]

We need hardly add that zines make excellent gifts, and Christmas is coming! If you're looking for a special gift, even a perfect gift, do consider giving a zine. And please, if you do give zines, considering ordering your copies from HQ ... this streamlines the process. It can take many months for the cash to find its way to us from the distributors, and that cash is sorely needed in the short term.

So, to begin with, please go to Nut Hatch for the very special flyer for RAINY DAYS: The Early Stories. If you're already surfing Nut Hatch as you read this, pull up The Compleat Zine List, and look for RAINY DAYS VOLUME ONE, on the PROS OMNIBUS list.

If you're surfing DISCOVERED ON A WEBPAGE or ENTROPY, then click here to go to Nut Hatch, then pull up the Compleat Zine List etc., as outlined above.

Further fundraiser specials will be listed here as they come ready. We're extremely excited about disk-dased [sic] products, such as wallpaper, clipart and screensavers. PROFESSIONALS, STARSKY & HUTCH and DUE SOUTH items are high on out priority list, and we'll be updating this page regularly, as they're produced. Also with book and zine sale lists. *sigh* It's got to be done, folks.

Thank you for your forbearance, and also — thank you in advance for helping us through this difficult time by investing in quality Nut Hatch Products.

September 2000 Comments by Nut Hatch

Comments by Jane of Australia and her brother, Mike Adamson:

Behind the scenes it's been ... interesting. This is code for "chaos." Things don't appear to be working themselves out at this moment in the unfolding of the universe, so we're falling back on ingenuity and creativity.

The short version (this being the editorial!) is that Nut Hatch-Entropy is under some financial duress. CRASHDIVE was an unexpected success, but FLIGHTPATH #7 and THE XENIAD #1 were an inexplicable circulation disaster. Add to this the fact that Nut Hatch sales stopped dead in their tracks in July ... the book binding punch has died a noble but none-the-less irretrievable death ... while the "press debt" just won't go away ... and there's cause for concern bordering on mild hysteria here.

Those of you who have followed Nut Hatch and Entropy for over a decade know that Bill Hupe, Peg Kennedy and Kandi Clarke robbed us of upwards of $9000 in the early '90s. This huge "trade deficit" was financed, and re-re-refinanced by a group of friends who come together to save something good — the press!

One by one, outside commitments have caused the group to dwindle to, essentially, two people, of whom one (JJ) is holding the press debt.

Well ... if you've followed her personal history in the last few years, you'll know that JJ can actually no longer carry it. There's a good deal of trouble behind the scenes here, and ... as we began, it's creativity and ingenuity to the rescue!!

For the full story, read The Fund Raiser!! ... and before you begin, let us assure you, we are NOT asking for favors or donations. We're offering tip-top fannish merchandise, albeit with a stated, and accounted, "profit margin." It is simply time that the fannish press paid back its debts. In this situation, "profit" is difficult to see, but insofar as there's a wedge of funding on top of manufacture costs, we're playing it "straight down the middle" and making you privy to the necessity for this. Sheesh.

It would have been wonderful if we'd never had to do this, but Nut Hatch has almost faded to nothing, leaving $2000's worth of stock in the hands of Betty Ann Brown, who, with the best will in world, can't wave a magic wand and sell it ... plus $2000's worth of stock on the shelf here at head office ... plus debts to the tune of about $3000, currently being covered by JJ, who is the one left "holding the baby."

Help!!!! Tune in right here for a peek at the solution to this dilemma! Some wonderful fannish merchandise is coming along. [1]

References

  1. September 2000 Nut Hatch Editorial