RE: I wanna start a zine!

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I’ve only started The Radical Uprise Zine about six months ago.  I’m still new to the game, but I’ve gotten a few questions lately regarding how to get started.  I’ll try to break it down as short and sweet as possible.

What’s so great about zines?  They can be whatever you want them to be.  There are no rules or guidelines to follow.  You’re completely free to do whatever you like, however you like.  It’s a good feeling!  You can write anything your heart desires, and be sure that others out there want to hear what you have to say, as they share those same desires!

Zines rule.  What you can expect:  New, fresh perspectives.  Original artwork.  Poetry.  Spelling and grammatical errors.  Mail in your mailbox.  New friends.  Fun.  Etc., etc.

I think one of the most rewarding things about zine making is seeing a tangible object sprout from a simple idea that was once in your head.  I’ve always loved writing and scrapbooking for as long as I can remember, and making zines is basically the best of both worlds.  I get to write about topics I enjoy – subjects I am passionate about.  I get to cut and paste articles and artwork (there’s something so fun about this process).  I get to distribute something to hundreds of people all across the world.  It’s a good feeling!

If you’re thinking about starting your own zine, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions.

Are you looking to make money from your zines?  If you’re in it for the money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.  Although I do make a slight profit from the zines I sell on Etsy, when you figure in the hours (and hours and hours) I spend writing, laying the zine out, cutting and pasting, printing, listing fees from Etsy and Paypal and so on and so forth, I nearly break even.  Make sure you’re starting a zine for the right reason!  This will also allow you to stay TRUE.  Zines are about having fun and spreading the word.  If you make a profit from it, that’s great, but don’t expect to quit your day job.  (;

Do you have the time?  Zines can be a lot of work.  I mean, a lot of work.  Make sure you’ve got the time to dedicate to your zine!  The Radical Uprise Zine is a full time job for me.  Between writing, organizing, cutting & pasting, printing, folding, distributing, etc., it’s a lot of work!  Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into!

| Taken from Amber‘s blog |

Things to consider:

Zine Name /  I suggest choosing a name that’s easy to spell and easy to remember.  If someone really digs your zine, you don’t want them struggling on how to spell your name to look you up!  Your zine will be a reflection of who you are, so take that into consideration.  Make sure the name you want isn’t already taken, and refrain from ripping off names of other zines.

Content /  What is your zine going to be about?  I (personally) find it best to allow yourself to be someone open-ended here.  The Radical Uprise, for example, focuses on all things based around positive thinking, fun and enjoying life.  You can restrict yourself if you only choose to write about one specific subject.  However, at the same time, if it’s something you are super passionate about, you won’t have an issue coming up with quality content.  Are you going to accept submissions (from my experience, Tumblr folks love to get involved)?  I believe allowing submissions is great because you get to hear different perspectives and points of view, and who doesn’t love being praised or published?  (:

Graphics / Layout /  Keep copyright laws in mind.  If you’re cutting and pasting from magazines or using images from online, be sure to use credit.  White space is boring, so fill it with doodles, text or magazine clippings.  At the same time, don’t over-pack your zine with content, making it hard to read and too “busy” looking.  Don’t try to stuff too much into an issue, just for the sake of  filling it up.  You can always save content for future issues.  This process is all experimental, so play around with it to see what works best for you! 

Inventory / What to have on hand /  Sharpies.  Paper.  A printer.  Creativity.  Old magazines.  Glue sticks (and more glue sticks and more glue sticks).  Ribbon.  Stickers.  Stencils.  Patience.  Paint.

Tips I’ve learned along the way.

Give yourself room!  There have been too many times where I’ve pasted too closely to the edge of the paper, which leads to your work getting cropped or cut off.  Make sure you leave yourself some margin (about a half an inch is good).  If the damage is done, all is not lost.  If you realize you haven’t left yourself enough room, you can simply copy your pages at a smaller percentage.  Typically if I run into this issue, I can copy at about 97% and it all works out!

Have a friend edit!  Sometimes when you’re reading over your own work, you see what you want to see.  Meaning, you may read what you mean to say instead of what you actually wrote.  You can overlook punctuation and spelling errors, so ask a friend to give it a quick run-though.

Don’t rush.  I don’t guarantee any specific time my zines are released.  Though generally they come out monthly, I don’t suggest committing yourself to producing a zine on the first of every month.  Life happens and sometimes does not allow this.  Work at your own pace, and allow yourself enough time to make it the best it can be before taking it to the copy machine.

Find a friend who works at a copy place.  Seriously.  At Fedex, it costs .09 per black and white page, which means .18 for a double sided paper, not including tax.  This adds up pretty quickly.  When I first started printing, I was literally paying people to buy my zine.  Scout around.  Compare prices.  Make nice with a friend who works with (or owns) a copy machine, who can cut you a better deal.

Basic is typically better.  When photocopying, black and white obviously copies better than color.  Bold lines will copy bolder and stronger.  If I’m using personal photos, I’ve found it best to convert them to black and white and bump up the contrast and shadows.

Include your info.  Let people know who to contact to submit their own work, or shop for future issues.  I print my PO Box on the back of every issue.  If you don’t have a PO box, I highly recommend one.  They are fairly inexpensive to come by, and you don’t have to share your personal information!

Get involved!  You can network at places like We Make Zines, or scout around on Facebook for other people who like Zines.  Trade with other zinesters.  Give some away.  Get involved in festivals and craft shows – anything to get your work out there.

| Taken from Nichole‘s site |

Remember, it’s all about fun and self expression, so there really aren’t many rules.  Don’t get discouraged when you clip off half of the words whilst printing your first issue, or if you find several typos after you’ve distro’d your first fifty copies.  You will learn the easiest and best way to produce your zines with time.  Just have fun!

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13 responses »

  1. Thanks so much! I’m hoping to start something like this in the next year or two so thanks for the heads up 😀 I’d also like to say that I adore your blog and would be miserable without it. So thanks for that, too. I must get my hands on your zines asap.

  2. I have never wanted to make a Zine until I came across this post. I am doing some research into now and was think of making a zine about my dreams. I have some really crazy dreams and when I tell other people what my dreams were they find them funny and interesting. I would love to know what you think about this idea.

    • If YOU love the idea, my opinion shouldn’t sway you. (; I think it sounds like tons of fun, and I most definitely back you! Zines are so much fun. Give it a try, and I bet you’ll get hooked. (; Best of luck to you. xx

  3. Pingback: 43 Things To Do On A Rainy Day Instead Of Complaining About It. | The Radical Uprise

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