We Make Zines

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Hi Everybody,

I was just going through a pile of zines I have. Some as old as 4 years. I was looking for a few particular ones, but thought I would separate them as ones I know I want to keep and ones to look at/read later.

As I was going through them I found a number that had used rubber bands for "binding" and a few that were just folded with nothing holding them together. In my opinions these ways of holding a zine together suck.

For example I dropped the box. Zines everywhere. Zines that are not stapled together come apart and unless I really know that zine and care, I don't care enough to try and figure out how it goes together (unnumbered pages too) so that zine will get thrown away (which I think I have done to 2 zines in my life). Also, zines that are not bound in any way will fall apart in your bag and are more difficult to read (because you basically have to hold them together).

The rubber band method seems like a good idea at the time, but rubber bends loose their elasticity pretty quickly and will break and often stick to the zine, so you are left with jacked up zine covers and no binding, which will make it prone to falling apart easily.

Since there seem to be a lot of new zinesters on this forum I thought I would pass on this bit of info. Obviously, just my opinion, but I do have 14 years of zine collecting and writing to base it on. :-)

Feel free to add on your opinions and advice of what you would recommend not doing in zine making.

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One thing that really irked me before was receiving zines that had written content that was photocopied and shrunk down in size so much that I could barely read it! In fact, I didn't read it. Zines shouldn't be some bizarre method of 1950's espionage.
Thank you for all the advice - Its really, really useful :D
blackcarrot said:
When making a 'perzine' keep some things personal. As in: Don't mention the person you love/hate/etc with their full name. Give people some amount of privacy. Don't say "I totally want to kill Joe Blow.." or "I totally want to fuck Jane Flahg" Change or omit or inital names. Some times people talk about really personal stuff in their zines, and mention other people - and you should give that person a shred of privacy and don't spread their lives into your per-zine. I think you can still write something just as personal and cathartic without mentioning peoples full/given/look-up'able names. Because chances are I live in another state and have no idea who you're talking about -- and if I did live in your local community, some things are better implied than written out for everyone to relish in. Unless you're doing some sort of review and then I think it's okay to say "Barbara Adobe makes amazing sculptures out of ground beef, go see her work!" Make sense?

Yeah, I used to use people's real first names in my zines, but now I block them out except for the first letter.
I have two things I've seen that bug me.
1- Copying wikipedia. Theme zines can be awesome, but just copying wikipedia is lame.
2- Using a large font and large margins which causes very little text on a page. I want to take more then 5 minutes to read a zine cover to cover. A size 16 font and 1" margins on every side cause a short paragraph or two to fill a page, and that sucks.
i think it's really important to bind zines, stapling is easiest. i wouldn't even think about giving someone a zine that wasn't stapled, unless it was for them to make copies of.... it's totally cool to not put any contact info/info about the zinester in the zine, TOTALLY cool and mysterious.
1) Liked black carrot advise on not using names in a perzine, in my case a diary comic.
2) Use a computer or typewriter if your handwriting stinks. Nothing worse then an un-readable zine hand written in pencil
3) Consider thicker paper for the cover (holds up better)
4) Consider providing a category on the back (sports, perzine, comic, DIY, GLTG) etc...to help organize your zine for zine libraries
5) Provide reliable contact info like an email account that you still use, a lot of older zines creators are lost in space
6) Provide permission to copy or not copy the zine, this is related to #5. I will not copy a zine with permission, yet at the same time some ziners simple cannot be reached
7) Consider mentioning on the back, any age appropriate warnings (nudity, language, sex)
8) Finish your zine
9) If all of these rules from myself and others overwhelms you from creating, and completing your zine, forget them all and finish your zine!!! I'd rather get a less than perfect zine than no zine at all.
Wow! This is all great advice, thank you!
This is great advice! all of you gave great advice, I could really use this advice considering, most of my zines never get finished.

Amber / Culture Slut said:
I feel like this thread could use a bump.

Some more advice to add to the list:

1. Print neatly in your zines. Reading messy handwriting is annoying.
2. Don't be afraid to edit and re-write.
3. Don't photocopy the pages straight out of your journal.
4. If you are handwriting your zine, make sure you're using a decent gel or roller pen, as opposed to ballpoint, which isn't going to copy well.
5. Don't be self-deprecating, like, "Sorry my zine sucks / is short / etc."
6. Make sure the pages are in order before you print 200 of 'em.
7. If you want to sell / trade zines, come up with a description that is going to pique someone's interest. Saying, "this is just a bunch of random stuff", or "my thoughts on life" isn't really going to help anyone.
8. Charge an appropriate price. Generally, if the cost of copying and postage is covered, you're set. Nobody wants to pay five dollars for photocopies of your sketches just because you call it art. Photocopies are still photocopies.
9. If you're making your first zine, read as many as you can get your hands on first. I'm not telling you to rip off other people's ideas, I'm just saying it's good to see what kind of techniques can be used, and to get a feel of writing styles that you like / dislike.
10. Don't be afraid of constructive criticism. It can only make you better.
I think that that is harmless to my artistic vision compared to what I read online about zine content some time ago.

I read, unwittingly stumbling apon a zine advice column, that one of the major don't is do not write negative content about a person or group of people.

Lets be serious, what zine or publication DOES NOT do that?

Secondly, what the eff* am I going to do start an Aryan nation zine, which many people in prison probably already have? That's media-topic monopolization; search your soul.

I'm not an idiot, I know what slander is. Or liable. I took friggin' journalism in highschool, I can keep my thoughts to myself, but making a zine that is so micro in its conception and distribution, is not slander, no matter who reads it.

Is this person correct in offering that as advice to future and current zinesterz?
One thing I've seen Jolie Noggle do that I like is putting address labels with her current address over the out-of-date address printed on her older zines. If you're going to sell/trade older zines, keeping your address current on those too is helpful.
Number 5 is a great idea! I should go ahead and do that too :-)
Thanks for the suggestion.

Scratch That Itch said:
1. Put a date on it! I really like seeing when a zine was made. Also put an expiry date on addresses if possible. And put the country on your address because yr zine will probably get to other countries. Americans, this means you.

2. Like Gianni said, say if yr zine is copyleft/anti-copyright/whatever, so people know if they can make more copies/steal artwork.

3. Read it before you make a load of copies to check it's legible - ie, a clear font/ dark enough/visible over pictures/etc.

4. Yeh, margins! Better safe than sorry.

5. I would really like it if more people listed crap they want to be sent/will send out, in particular things they would exchange for their zine like mix tapes/info on stuff/vegan sweets/etc.

There's plenty more I can think of but I'm starting to sound like a dick. But I have done (or rather, not done) all of these things in the past so it's not meant to be rude, ha.
Following advise from this thread, I've started to sew my own zines... (well, the other reason is that here in France they don't have the same staple's format that my stapler needs, so I will have to wait until I got back to buy new supplies). But I have to say that is enormously time-consuming, like 15 minutes to sew an issue (yes, I do quite little stitches, and now I've just read here that's the thing not to do... great!) Probably it would be easier if I had a sewing machine or if I'd use a thicker thread.

Anyway, I've never had anyone complain about staples in my zines... I just staple them to the inside.

Bird in the Hand said:
I like it when people sew the binding together! I DON'T like it when people leave their staples open for my weary little fingers. I happened to get stabbed by one offending zine following a fair on Sunday and will not be reading that zine.



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