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Zines 101 A Students Guide (abridged version) by Matt Holdaway What Is a Zine?

? (Pronounced like magazine without the maga.) A zine is an independently created publication, done for the love of creating, not to make a profit. Most zines are photocopied some are done on computer, some are handwritten, some are put together cut-and-paste but they can be printed offset, like a magazine. Most have print-runs of a couple dozen to a few hundred. In a zine, you might find typos, misspelled words, improper grammar, and brilliant or radical or just plain honest ideas that simply arent allowed in Time, Newsweek, or People Magazine. A zine can be about whatever subject its creator decides upon. Some typical subjects are comics, personal writing, fanbased writings (most commonly music, movies, or science fiction), literature, anthology/art, and reviews. They touch on sex, politics, activism, television, work, travel, food, obsessions, whatever. They may incorporate screenprinting, linoleum cuts, and hand-stitched bindings. They are personal and idiosyncratic. The best thing about zines is this: there are no rules. Brief History of Zines Zines can most directly be traced back to the late 1920s, when readers of science fiction magazines started communicating by way of mimeographed fanzines. In the 1950s and 60s, the beats and the counterculture got into self-publishing, using mimeograph machines and photocopiers, and several anarchist newspapers began. Punks in the 1970s began to exploit the photocopier, and the form closest to todays zine was created. Zines really burst onto the scene in the 1980s, with the help of Factsheet Five, a zine/magazine that reviewed zines. The original editor, Mike Gunderloy, originated or popularized the word zine and established most of todays zine ethos (non-profit, trading, DIY, importance of feedback from readers, etc.). The 1990s brought technological advances and personal computer access that made professional editing and publishing tools accessible to the general public. By the early 1990s, thousands of people were doing zines. The mainstream media began to take notice, and retail stores began to stock them on their shelves. By the late 1990s, this interest had ebbed somewhat, but more and more new zines are still being created. The use of the Internet has created farther stretching networks of people working within the same medium as well as providing publishers a virtual retail area, increasing reader access to remote locations and allowing more people to see content than the self-publisher could afford to non-virtually print. Why Publish a Zine? To see your work in print. To share what you can create. To encourage others to be creative. To find and connect others with similar interests. To get mail. To make new friends. To create the publication you always wished existed. To teach yourself something new. To make yourself a better writer or artist. The individual reasons to create are zine are as diverse and unique as the individuals who create zines. Getting Started Once you decide that you would like to make a publication, the work begins. The most important thing that you can have is determination, the ability to see things through to completion, and a little free time. Supplies you may need to access to: Depending on how you decide to design your zine, this is a list of supplies you might need: Sharpies, pencils, typewriter or computer with a word-processing program, scissors, glue stick, Exacto knife, scanner, ruler, paper trimmer, photocopier, stapler. Often you can find materials to use/borrow. (Many copy shops have these items freely available for customers to use.) Protecting your identity: The world can be a dangerous place. It is recommended that you get a post office box for correspondence and a separate email address for your online correspondence. A pen name can help but if you are looking to make money off your publication and will be accepting checks, that can get tricky. You will have to make your own policy on who you will and wont deal with. Layout: While you are creating your zine, you need to plan the layout. The total number of pages youll need to plan content for depends on the size of your zine. If youre creating a full-size zine (8 x11 printed on both sides), your page count needs to be divisible by two. If you are creating a digest-size zine (8 x11 folded in half), each 8 x11 page will have four page segments two pages on each side, with a margin (blank space) in the middle. Cut this in half and youve got a mini-size zine (in other words, eight page segments on each full-size sheet of paper). When youve got your content ready to layout, it may help to make a mock-up what youd like to do, to help you decide on the flow of the text and how the pages need to be pieced together for photocopying. For example, a 12-page zine takes six pieces of paper to make. The layout will go like this: Cover___________________ (Actual Page 1)________________________Back Cover Page 1 Page 10 Page 2___________________ (Actual Page 2)____ _______________ Page 9 Page 3 Page 8 Page 4_ (Actual Page 3)______________ Page 7 Page 5 Centerfold Page 6

Once you have your layout decided and all of your pages filled, copy and paste your work onto pages the same size as you are going to print (unless you did your layout on a computer). Then its off to the photocopier. Identical machines will have different levels of quality. Search around and find the best quality for your time and money. Some machines can collate and separate and some can even fold and staple for you. After making your copies, you can fold and staple and then distribute! Helpful tips: Give yourself a half-inch margin on each side to give the photocopier space for variance. You dont want the last word of every line cut off! Dont forget to include contact information! Page numbers are also helpful (to your readers and to you when you start collating). Color pictures and shading often get slaughtered by a photocopier. Black and white originals with bold lines often turn out closer to the original on a photocopier. Layout, especially the first time, will take much longer than one would expect. Dont run everything the second the master copy is ready. Make a copy that you can read through and edit. Then re-edit. Once you are really satisfied, print it. Dont be afraid to step back from your zine for a little bit. Give it room to breath so that it is right when it is finished. Once it is finished and you send it off, it is on its own. The more you do yourself, the cheaper things can get. Your time is worth something. Shop around and explore options. Never underestimate the value of a great relationship with your printer. A zine can be a great place to explore and express your feelings and to say things you have always wanted to say, but once something is printed and distributed, there is no way to recall it, and there is always the chance that every single person you know could see what you have printed. The chance of that with a zine is slim, but you should believe and be able to stand up for what you print. The one who creates the publication is ultimately responsible for everything printed. If you are going to use a computer, make sure that everything you worked on is backed up in more than one place. Have a hard copy somewhere and it is recommended that you store your work somewhere online as well. While there are a limited few who have started with making their own publication who have gone on to turn it into an occupation in some form, you shouldnt start a zine with the idea of rewards such as fiscal gain, popularity, respect or anything beyond getting a publication printed. More often than not a zine is a money losing venture and there could be a number of people who wont understand why one would devote the energy to it. It is the notion of getting something in print that should motivate. If you look past that, you might be disappointed. Dont let that stop you from having aspirations and dreams. The process is tedious and has hidden steps. The process itself however is part of the joy. Addresss can become outdated rather quickly. All the information in this guide could be outdated by the time you see this. When doing a mass mailing, test addresses with postcards and emails first to save on postage. Once Its Done Now that youve made your first zine, you need to get readers. One way to find readers is to send your zine to publications & websites that review zines. Visit for a list. (This list was printed in Zine World #19.) Be sure to include full contact information for your zine (mailing address and email address) and the price of the zine, if these are not clearly listed within the publication. There are several libraries that accept and display zines. Visit (This list will be printed in Zine World #21.) You may choose to try to get your zine distributed. A distro is an outlet, usually run by one or two people, who will sell zines on behalf of the creators. Often the zines are sold to the distro on consignment (meaning the distro will pay you after the zines have sold) at a rate of 5060 percent of the cover price. Some distros only need a master copy of your zine and can make their own copies, giving you a percentage of the sales. Whizzbanger Guide to Zine Distribution lists distros worldwide; its available for $6 (in North America, $8 world) from Shannon, PO Box 5591, Portland OR 97228. Other Resources: Looking for more information? Check out: Stolen Sharpie Revolution A Do-It-Yourself guide to zines and zine-related craft, including tips about photocopying, postage, layout, mail art, dealing with distros, etc. $4 from Microcosm Publishing, 5307 N. Minnesota Ave., Portland OR 97217-4551, Articles on zine history, advice, zine libraries, e-zines, legal issues, distribution, and more. Yahoo Groups Join or to connect with other zinesters, publicize your zine, or find advice. For the complete version of this guide, contact Matt Holdaway at 1945 B. Berryman St., Berkeley CA 94709 or or visit