These questions (some have been slightly edited) are representative of e-mail from folks who have dropped by the AAPA Web site. The questions are listed here at the top of the page, with both questions and answers included below.
Q 1. I'm looking for a place where I may expose my work and have a little more motivation to write. So how does it work? Do I write whatever I wish (if I am a member) and if it's good it gets printed somewhere or placed on the net? I'm looking for a place where I could put my writing to be viewed instead sitting in my journals or hiding on the hard drive.
A. It sounds like AAPA is the place for you. I hope you have looked over the various AAPA Web pages, particularly " About AAPA", " Examples", and " How to Join". These pages should give you a hint of the type of activity you'll find in the AAPA.
The focus of activity is the monthly mailing of papers we call the "bundle". But members can also publish an "E-Journal" and have it included in the online AAPA archive.
Although a some members print articles written by others, the best way to guarantee that something you write is printed is to publish it yourself. To participate as a publisher, you need to print enough copies of your paper to cover distribution to the entire membership (formatted to fit inside the 6 by 9 envelopes used for mailing) and send them to the Mailer. The Mailer then stuffs the bundles and sends them to all the members.
If you want to try to get something published by another member, you could contact one of the publishers whose work you enjoy to see if that publisher is interested in printing something you wrote.
Q 2. Could joining this organization present me with opportunities to see what others think of my writing and eventually get my work published?
A. Yes, participating in the AAPA could stimulate other members to comment on your work. Although a number of publishers print the work of other members, the best way to get published within the AAPA is to do it yourself. With the availability of desktop publishing and copy centers, it's not too difficult to become a publisher.
Being published within the AAPA means all the other members see your work. If you would like feedback and comments, it would be a good idea to mention it in your publication. Otherwise readers might be too polite to offer an opinion.
Q 3. How will I be compensated for any articles that I send you? Do I have to meet a quota, or write a certain number of articles to remain a member?
A. Because we are hobbyists, we write our articles and publish our papers just for the fun of it, without any financial compensation.
The AAPA doesn't have any activity requirement. As long as you send in your annual dues, you will remain a member. Of course, those who are most active receive the greatest enjoyment out of their membership.
Q 4. You say that you need writers that need to express their creativity? I happen to suit that description!! What is the age limit? I am only 16 but I am an avid writer. Also, is this an organization that is run over the Internet, or by mail?
A. There's no age limit. When the AAPA was founded in 1936 it was made up mostly of teenagers, and we have had active members who were even younger. I was 16 when I joined AAPA. Today more of our members fit into the retirement category, but all ages are welcome.
Almost all of AAPA activity (including the monthly mailing of amateur papers) takes place by postal mail, but most members have e-mail and use it to keep in touch.
Q 5. I would like to write for the Association but I have no access to printing facilities that would print multiple copies. Do other individuals within the Association print what others write or do you have to print your own work?
A. There are several members who regularly publish essays, stories, and poems of other members.
You can become a publisher even though you don't have a press. If you can create a master copy using a computer (or even a typewriter!), you could have it duplicated at a professional printer or by using a photocopier.
Q 6. What sort of articles does the association prefer? Do you just deal in the types of writing that you sent samples of or are you interested in current affairs-type issues?
A. People are free to write about whatever interests them, but personal experiences and perspectives usually get the best reaction. We can read about current affairs in dozens of professional publications, but if you bring a personal perspective to a topic it can make it special. Politics and religion are two of the least favorite topics.
Q 7. If one does wish to send in material, how many copies are typically sent in? Does the mailing bundle go to all members, or just active ones?
A. Every member gets a monthly bundle. The Mailer currently requires about 150 copies. (We have more members, but some of them are family members and share the bundle with someone else in the household.) The Mailer usually includes a note of how many copies are needed for the next bundle, and what date they need to arrive.
Q 8. I publish several Farm Bureau newspapers. I am, alas, "tainted" by the commercial dollar, as I do get paid to do this work, but I love publishing, always have and always will. I work alone, out of my house, and it is sometimes a lonely situation. I would like to be in touch with like-minded individuals.
A. We have quite a few members who are either currently working for or retired from newspapers. Also, a couple of journalism professors. They enjoy having an outlet for their work that isn't constrained by some editor's idea of what they should write. Because there is no deadline, they work at their own pace and have complete control over the finished product. The "amateur" is in AAPA to indicate that we write, publish, and print for the love of the activity and not for profit within the context of the group.
Q 9. Is there any discussion list with the AAPA? My husband, father, and friends urge me to sharpen my graphic and writing skills - they seem to see some potential in me. I, on the other hand am testing the water, so to speak, to see if I have what it takes.
A. Since the AAPA was formed in 1936, long before there was anything like e-mail, all official business (such as elections) is conducted through "normal" mail. However, most AAPA members are online and using e-mail. The bundles, which are sent via postal mail, go out once a month and contain one to two dozen publications.
My sister began printing her church's newsletter a few years ago, and I got her a membership as a gift. She was able to get some interesting ideas from each month's mailing, and she enjoyed reading what other folks had to say.
Q 10. I am the advisor to a boys & girls club newspaper. Our staff is made up of kids age ranges 10-16. Is it possible for The Bee to be a member of the AAPA?
A. Quite a few member of the AAPA started as teenagers or younger. We would like to learn how to contact youngsters who have an interest in publishing papers. All of our current members are individuals, but at one time a high school class in Tampa, Florida, joined the AAPA and periodically circulated a paper through our monthly mailings.
Q 11. It occurred to me recently that I would like to begin printing stationery by hand for my own use. I am something of a machinist, woodworker and tinkerer and feel I could make a simple manual press. Is there a good book I can use as a starting point? Can you point me to a resource for type and other letterpress hardware that I would need that I could not make myself?
A. A classic letterpress instruction book, General Printing, has been republished and is available through Liber Apertus Press.
Check out the AAPA's Resources for Letterpress Printers page, where you can find information on getting started with letterpress printing.
Q 12. How do I go about getting re-entered as a member? I was active until late 1995 and lapsed. Let me know how to get reestablished.
A. Just send your dues to the Secretary-Treasurer and let him know that this is a reinstatement rather than a new membership. The current amount of dues and Secretary-Treasurer's address is available on the How To Join the AAPA page.
Q 13. I work as a freelance photojournalist in Jakarta (Indonesia). Do you have a place for foreigners to be part of your association?
A. Membership is open to anyone who pays the dues ($25 in U.S. funds). Although the vast majority of members live in the United States or Canada, we also have had a few members in England, Wales, France, Austria, New Zealand, and Japan.
It gets expensive for foreign members to participate by producing a journal; however, if you have friends in the U.S. you might be able to send a single master copy and have your friend send it to a printer and mail the copies to the Mailer.
You can also participate by submitting essays, stories, or poems to publishing members for inclusion in their own journals. However, there is no guarantee that anyone will have room, or be able to print your work soon after receiving it.
I don't want to be too discouraging of your joining the AAPA, but I do want you to have a realistic picture of the difficulties foreign members have participating.
Q 14. Right now my friends and I are starting an Internet magazine and we are looking for a way to get our hands on some press passes or press credentials. Does your organization provide this?
A. As an "amateur" organization, the AAPA does not get press passes to events. I am not aware of any way to get hold of such passes or credentials.
Q 15. Would it be possible for me to obtain a list of members of The American Amateur Press Association and their E-mail address? I work for the national press club, and we are attempting to put together a database of Journalists and Reporters.
A. I will decline your offer to be included in the database. Most members don't see their primary role as Journalists or Reporters, but rather as people who dabble in personal publication. I doubt that most would want their e-mail address in a professional database. In order to protect the privacy of members, we do not give out the membership list.
Q 16. Recently my husband and I discovered 2 roller printing presses and cases of type in my in-laws basement. We are interested in finding out what they are worth and the best way to go about selling them. We are figuring that the presses are 50-70 years old.
A. Here are a few suggestions on how to get information on selling printing equipment...
Determine the manufacturer and size of the presses. The size is the inside dimensions of the frame ("chase") that holds the type. The manufacturer is usually somewhere on the press. For example, a common press would be an 8 by 12 inch Chandler & Price.
The buyer will want to know if it is in usable condition. Are any repairs needed? Is there excessive rust? Very often, the rollers will need to be recast (unless they are made of rubber or synthetic material).
Look in the "classified ads" section on AAPA's Resources for Letterpress Printers page. Follow the links and see if there is something similar for sale.
Because letterpress equipment is awfully heavy, you are most likely to find a buyer in your local area. In any ads, be sure to indicate the location of the equipment and how to contact you.
If there is any other printing-related equipment (paper cutter, type, cases, cabinets, etc.) be sure to include it.
Here's a Web page that describes How to sell (or give away!) a print shop.
Amateur journalism is a unique activity. Amateur journalists publish journals on paper & online & come from many perspectives: from deluxe letterpress printed journals, to Xeroxed newsletters, to artistically designed cards and ephemera. We embrace the spirit of being amateurs – loving what we do for pure joy and not financial gain – while creating top quality journals, zines, and homemade publications.