An Amateur Press Alliance or "APA" is a form of self-publishing dating back at least half a century, and maybe more. An APA usually has between 10 and 50 members, who are both the contributors and the subscribers. Essentially, an APA works like this:
The person running the APA is the "Central Mailer" (CM) or "Official Editor" (OE). This is a volunteer (though sometimes elected) job. For each issue (or "mailing") of the APA, the CM sets a copycount, based on the size of the membership. Each member then produces his or her own work (a "zine", short for "fanzine"), and is responsible for copying and collating as many copies as the CM specified. The member then mails the copies to the CM by the deadline. (APAs have frequencies running from weekly to annually, though bi-monthly is the most common.)
When the deadline arrives, the CM produces a table of contents, and then collates the zines and binds the mailings together. The CM then mails a copy of the completed product to each member on the roster. Members must maintain a postage account to cover the costs of shipping. The idea behind an APA, then, is to share the costs of publishing and distributing.
APAs come in many flavors and sizes. There are "general interest" APAs devoted to any subject a member wishes to discuss. There are APAs devoted to comic books, science fiction, video, film, cartooning, music, and much more. In some APAs the CM or OE actually has the power to edit or exclude zines from a mailing. Some APAs are confidential or invitation-only, others are open to anyone willing to join. Almost every APA has a contribution requirement (minimum activity, or MINAC), e.g., contribute 4 pages every 3 mailings to maintain membership.
Two common APA terms are "Natter" and "Mailing Comments" (or MCs). Natter is general discussion, usually to catch other members up on what's going on in the author's life. Mailing Comments are comments to other members, usually about what they wrote in the previous mailing. Communication among members is a key concept in most APAs.
Rogers Cadenhead for a while operated a mailing list on APAs called APATALK. Although the list is now defunct, he gave me a copy of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list the list had assembled to make available here.
Why Bother with APAs When We Have the Net?
There are several answers to this question:
The experiences truly are very different from one another. While it's conceivable that some day the net may develop a true replacement for APAs, for the time being APAs have their place as well.
- Many people aren't on the net.
- The net doesn't offer the graphic design opportunities of a print medium (not yet, anyway).
- The net has a tendency to produce off-the-cuff commentary, while APAs, being less immediate, perhaps offer more opportunity for contemplation.
- APAs offer a smaller, often more comfortable, audience; not everyone is comfortable getting into a discussion with a hundred other people.
How Can I Learn More About APAs, or Join One?
There is an annual publication, The New Moon Directory, which lists information about all the APAs the editor is able to contact. You can order a copy by sending US $6.00 (price current as of September 1999) to:
The New Moon Directory
I joined my first APA (APA Centauri) in early 1988, and was in it for almost exactly ten years. I've been a member of several other APAs in that time, but I finally dropped out of my last one (The Turbo-Charged Party Animal APA) in 1999 due to lack of time. APAs were very good to me for a long time and I've made several good friends through them.
Eric L. Watts, Editor & Publisher
1161 Research Drive NE
Marietta GA 30066-5539
Web Site: http://members.aol.com/NewMoonDir/
Here are all of the APAs that I've been a member of:
- APA Centauri
A general-interest APA is nearing its 20th anniversary. It is bimonthly, with about 20 members scattered across the US and Canada. I was in AC for a solid decade, and never missed contributing to a mailing. I finally decided it was time to call it a day in early 1998.
A bimonthly APA devoted to discussions about sex and relationships. It is confidential, and invitation-only. I believe it is now defunct; the Web page hasn't been updated since 1998.
- APA Juice
A science fiction APA, published monthly. Its membership also hails from all over the US.
The premiere comic book-oriented APA, it is roughly 30 years old, and has published every month (save one) in its history. It has 50 members and has often has a long list of people waiting to get in. Since members only have to contribute once every three months, a former CM described it as "a monthly APA that behaves as a quarterly".
- The Turbo-Charged Party Animal APA
Another general-interest APA, this one based in the Madison, WI fannish community (though it seems like a lot of Madison fans have migrated to Seattle). It is invitation-only, and has a fairly low membership turnover. I joined the waitlist in November 1995, and got on the roster in June of 1996. I stayed in it for a few months after I moved to California in early 1999, but eventually dropped out. It was the last APA of which I was a member.
This midwestern APA spun off from WindyAPA years ago. Eventually, WindyAPA folded and its members joined Capacity. A bimonthly general interest APA with a number of members active in science fiction fandom.
A general interest APA based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul SF fannish community (it gets it name from St. Paul, I believe). It's pretty small, as APAs go, and seems mainly to be used by the various members to keep in touch with one another.
An APA which focuses on comic books, science fiction and popular culture. Its initials originally stood for "Western Amateur Publishing Association", but though the APA's members still largely hail from the west coast, there are several elsewhere in the world. (I don't know how up-to-date the Web page is.)
APAs with Web Pages
In addition to the pages listed here, there is an APA ring you can check out.
If you know of an APA's Web page which should be added to this list, please let me know. I will occasionally remove pages which are defunct, or which belong to APAs which I understand are themselves defunct.
- Alarums and Excursions, an APA for role-playing gamers
- All Of The Above, devoted to Steve Jackson Games' GURPS role-playing system.
- American Amateur Press Association, an older APA with interesting terminology, dedicated to "amateur journalism".
- Anzapa, the venerable Australia and New Zealand APA
- APA-5, focusing on comics and popular culture
- APA Centauri, a general-interest APA, which I belonged to from 1988-1998.
- Comicopia, a comic book APA.
- ERB-APA, dedicated to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs
- The Furthest North Crew, a Canadian APA devoted to anthropomorphics (i.e., the adventures of people with animal heads).
- Gothik APA, focusing on alternative comics and mainstream lines such as DC's Vertigo imprint
- Imaginapa, a general-interest APA originally founded as a spinoff of the eponymous APA-5
- Inkspots, an APA for comic and cartoon artists.
- Interlac, dedicated to the comic book series The Legion of Super-Heroes.
- Klordny, devoted to comic books, particularly The Legion of Super-Heroes
- LASFAPA, which I think has evolved from an SF APA to a general-interest one. It's one of the older APAs around, and like this page, their page discusses the nature of APAs
- Legends, a comics-oriented APA emphasizing an interest in DC Comics
- MZS APA is devoted to comic books, particularly those from Marvel Comics.
- Phoenix APA, a general-interest APA
- Point of Divergence, an alternate-history SF APA.
- Sord & Sorcery is a science fiction and fantasy APA
- WAPA, focusing on comic books, science fiction, and popular culture.
- X-APA, devoted to Marvel Comics' X-Men.
hits since 1 July 1996.