Zine Agent

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Synonyms: Agent
See also: Zines, Zine Production, Zine Pirating
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A zine agent is a person or publisher who sells zines on behalf of others, taking over the production of zines from a previous publisher or individual. An agent is not necessarily the sole seller.

Good Things

  • what makes an agent a good one?
  • agents' benefit to fans

Not-So-Good Things

  • loss of control
  • possible mysterious bookkeeping


In the 1990s, Bill and Ann Hupe were sometimes the subject of complaints regarding cost and "ownership" of zines.

In 1997, Mysti Frank wrote an open letter to fandom, one which encouraged other fans to act on complaints she had about New Leaf Publications and the agent who took over Bill and Ann Hupe's zine empire. See Thief in Fandom.

In 2003, there were complaints about unauthorized publication of fan fiction, unauthorized editing of submitted stories, bootleg print runs of agented zines, and the production value of the zines themselves by Agent With Style. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5][6]

In 2008, a fan became upset when an agent sold Ducky's Pain and Bolo with unauthorized covers, something that generated discussion about what the role of an agent was. One quote: "...it is not an agents place at all to do something like that. They said an agent is like a babysitter, their job is to care for the baby not tattoo it." [7]

Examples of Zine Agents

Agenting Zines for Others at Cons

From Boldly Writing: 'In order to bring more fanzines, we [at BlooMN'Con in 1982] started the tradition of agenting fanzines at the convention for other editors. Conventions in future years picked up on this practice, and it is now fairly common."

A Fan's 1985 Proposal

Dear Zined,

Over the past five years or so, I have attended many conventions in my region, and sometimes beyond. At every one of them I try to have a table as a dealer. I do not sell as a professional, only as an amateur, and only to pay my way to conventions where I see a lot of my friends who also attend cons. (Sometimes this is the only way I have of seeing several of them.)

Lately, I have been selling zines for other people at my table. I have a zine of my own, but I find it better to have a variety to choose from on my table, since in that way I sell more zines overall. For example, a STAR TREK fan would not be interested in my zine since it STAR WARS, but if you put out a ST zine (or whatever kind of zine - I don't limit to one fandom) this would be a good way for it to reach that fan who would like to have it but who does not like dealing with postage, letters of inquiry, SASE's and the Post Awful (l think we are all that way on occasion) in the process. I have had inquiries for just about every kind of zine there is, once people know I have zines on my table, so I know from experience that the market is there for practically anything. Among those people I have sold for so far, there have been no complaints as to my ability to sell their zines and to keep good books. I have sold for Lori Chapek-Carleton, Cathy Ford, Jean Airey, Barbara Sharon Emily, and Richard Pollet.

Now as to the business involved, I sell for ten percent commission, and would prefer that only ten zines be sent to me at first until I have a chance to see how well they sell. Ten copies of one issue, that is. I also am willing to sell zines for free copies of that zine. In other words, for every ten zines of one issue I sell, I get one copy free. But this is something I leave up to the zined to decide. I also require that a list be sent with the zines in each package, including the name of the zine(s), how many copies of each issue, and the price per copy; and on the list should be the zined's retvum address and the date they were packed. This is for your benefit, in case there is a question about what was sent. Oh, and I do accept UPS. I can pick up zines at conventions also, should a zined be in attendance and selling sines at a con I attend. The con schedule so far is as follows: PHOENIXCON, ROVACON, SCI-C0N. CONTRAST, DARKOVER, CLIPPERCON, and possibly OMNICON. MEDIAWEST CON 85 and PANOPTICON NEW ORLEANS are also on the list. More cons will be added as they develop.

If a zined is at a con I attend then it is my policy not to sell their zine there unless no one else there is selling it. This is so zineds will not be deprived of more direct selling.

If you are interested in having me sell your zines for you, even zines that are still in the works, please contact me at the address at the address below and we can go from there. Please, please include a SASE or SASP to insure reply. [8]

A Fan's 1993 Comments

A fan in 1993 had some opinions about zine agenting, expediency, convenience, and possible abuses of power:

I think it makes sense for a zine ed to make sure their zine makes it to as many cons as possible; we are most of us more willing to buy zines in person; especially from a relatively unknown publisher, or a publisher who has had problems in the past, no matter how much they say they have it all under control now, so it makes sense for say, Jenn & Christine, (Manacles Press) to give zines to Bill Hupe to sell at cons that they are not going to.

It makes less sense for him to mail order their zine, when they do their own mail order for less money...

Finally, to that other hand, it makes me uncomfortable. Actually, I get uncomfortable anytime I notice anyone doing so much in fandom that I worry they couldn't work a real job too. For example, I noticed recently that at the time of the big B7 flap, that Ann and Leah were way in the middle of, they were putting out many zines a year, selling merchandise, promising to make x cons a year... fandom was becoming their life. No wonder they ended up crazy.

It's not so much that I don't want people making money off of fandom. I don't suppose that Bill is making more than the amount that 5 other people doing the same stuff much more part time would be making. It is just that when a substantial part of your income comes from fandom, your attitude about it starts to change. It is the attitude change I fear.

Also, there is not essential reason why things should be concentrated into his hands. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Kandy Fong, and a few others put a *lot* of money into VCRs and other equipment. There is no reason why every fan should need that sort of equipment. I am willing to spend a little, in both increased tape cost, and in shoulder patting and egoboo-boosting, to encourage her and others to do that. I feel that it is essentially different with mail order, which after all, you don't have to have special equipment or be a rocket scientist to do (even though *I* couldn't do it. )(Well, not on time, anyway.) [9]


  1. ^ comments made on FCA-L, March 2003, accessed November 14, 2008
  2. ^ PSA about zine publisher accessed November 14, 2008, a copy is archived here
  3. ^ Public Service Announcement accessed November 14, 2008 (locked when trying to access on August 10, 2012)
  4. ^ Public Service Announcement Bandwagon accessed November 14, 2008 ("According to the people we know who attended the first convention [my zine] was available at, Mysti sold out of that first run of the zine at the con. According to the report I got back, she sold two copies of it. And continued to sell two here and three there at different cons for the next year, while the reports of people [we] knew who attended those cons indicated that she was selling enough of them to make up three or four print runs, rather than the one run we had agreed to. Also, the zines she was selling were really *badly* photocopied and bound rip-offs of the master I had sent her, not a true printing.)"
  5. ^ Dear Disreputable Zine Publisher accessed November 19, 2008, a copy is archived here
  6. ^ Psychic Serpent Live Journal, accessed 5.11.2011 ("I just got off the phone with a lawyer friend of mine who is sending a cease-and-desist letter to AWS on my behalf, inasmuch as I did not authorize them to print the zines (I was never given the opportunity, as [Agent With Style] never sent me the files they claimed they would);" WebCite.
  7. ^ I needs opinions or at least to stop being incandescently mad, Archived version
  8. ^ from a letter by Judith Low in Echo Seven
  9. ^ Sandy Hereld at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (February 16, 1993