We Make Zines

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Hey. What do you charge for your zine? Or is it free? I have always been making mine free (or trade, of course), but I don't have a job right now and am wondering what I should do. Thanks.

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Mine's free. I only make 50 copies or so at the moment, so it's cool. With the ones I send to the US (I live in the UK) I send one guy about 10 copies then the money to send them out to people. (I don't just drop it on someone, I arranged it with the dude and it's cool). I was talking with my friend when he was helping me staple it, and about how I may have to start making more copies, which I couldn't afford to do, so if I wanted to do that, I'd have to charge for it, but that's something I don't want to do (it's awkward to like be handing them out and ask people for small amounts of money, and also I frankly don't think it's worth paying for) and he also didn't want me to charge for it and said he and some other people would probably help me out with costs. So I'm safe.
a coupla dollars is the nominal charge for my zine but then a lot of them get posted for trade or free or just a damn letter. no one is going to make money out of zines - like tim said, its a hobby and its fun. trade is the best deal because you get to see what else is out there... but with postage and printing i dont feel bad about charging a coupla dollars at zine fairs - im still just going to spend it on other zines anyway
The three Ps! I reckon charge for printing, postage... and profit. Not sure why other people have hang ups about that, but I don't know how much this would worry potential zine readers anyway. It's not as if, when I buy zines, I actually do a mental calculation in my head and work out how much the zine must have cost to make and deliver, and therefore how much the price I'm paying is in relation to that. And if I was told that a zine maker had actually made some money on the side from their hobby, and I'd helped to subsidise that? I'd be chuffed!
That being said... Often I don't charge for my own zines since they're a hobby. The last one I did, though, I spent more money than usual getting the formatting and colour cover right and decided to give it a charge. I just made it a simple figure, like four dollars or five dollars. (I sold it at Sticky, which take part of the cover price, so I had to factor that in as well.) I think by making the price low, and simple, you can't go too far wrong.
I charge £1 without postage, because it's a nice round figure, covers my printing costs and covers some extra copies so I can afford to do trades. On etsy and dawanda, I change the price every few weeks to reflect the exchange rate, and just round it to the nearest neat number, like for example my zines were $2 USD last year, but now they're $1.50 because the exchange rate went down, and so I still get the same amount of money out the other end. I don't include postage in my international prices, because the prices for EU and non-EU can be pretty different, and it's easier to add a small amount of postage depending on country.
I definitely understand wanting to break even... Can you justify the price with the amount of content? I have a couple of $4 and $5 zines in my distro that are 1/2 legal but they are extremely text heavy and thick with tons of great content. I would pay $4 for a zine that was good on content.

Mulnix said:
I've wondered about this because my zine is printed on double-sided 11X17, and I'm thinking I'll have to charge $4 for it to break even. Is that too much, do you think? I haven't put my zine up on the site yet 'cause I'm still debating this.
I give all mine out for free cos it feels too much like work to sit charging money for them. But I've spent over £500 over the last year making them (and more buying other people's!) so...
My zine was free in person, but I took advertising to pay for the printing costs (upwards of 2K by the end, I did a big ass zine). I always charged $2 by mail to cover postage, traded for free with anyone. I think constantly losing money can get to really be a drag if you're paying for the printing out of pocket and giving all your issues away. I'd charge a dollar or two and seek out distribution and doing mail/Etsy/website sales just to have a little cash coming back at you. Then you can still give away free issues to people locally or that you meet that you want to share your zine with.

Does anyone do subscriptions anymore?
i generally charge $2 for a zine. then i shop around a lot for the best deal on photocopies so that the $2 enables me to break even or even make a little money (i sock it away in my fund for typewriter ribbons, rubber cement, & other zine-related supplies). i just moved to a new state, so i've had to hunt around for a good deal on photocopies all over again & it's definitely tough to find a good, reliable deal, but it's the kind of thing you can haggle on, to some degree. especially if you make a lot of copies--a few places have been willing to drop their prices for me since i'll usually make at least 2000 copies at a time. one shop even gives me a discount & lets me use the fancy copiers behind the counter. they just give me free rein to load paper, fix jams, & have free run of the copiers whenever they're not in use for other customers. nice!

i have seen a few zines that still offer subscriptions, but it's so tough to stick to a publishing schedule with zines, few last too long (the exception is "the east village inky," which is $12 for four issues, $10 for renewals). i offer a subscription to my zine distro, but that's a little easier because i am sending zines i already have in stock for the distro, as opposed to creating something new from whole cloth every three months.

i generally recommend that people try to keep their zines priced under $3 or $4 (unless there is a lot of content or other fanciness that justifies/necessitates a higher price) because i have learned from the distro that people just don't want to pay more than $2 for a zine, even if it's eighty half-legal pages & jam-packed with content. but that's just a recommendation. people can charge whatever they want & see what happens. a sliding scale or "pay what you want" option sometimes works out really well too. i used to do that & people who could afford it & liked my zines would sometimes give me $20 for an issue, which helped subsidize freebies to people who couldn't afford to pay anything.
When my band tours, I'll bring a bunch of issues to sell. Usually only about two bucks. Some nights I sell 10 bucks worth, some nights no one even walks by my table. Needless to say, the money I do make usually goes right back into the bar or a coffee and honey bun for the next day. At times, my zine have almost become my only lifeline for food when on tour. When it gets desperate, I become a much better salesman.

Through the mail (depending on how far I have to ship a package), I'll ask that they thrown down another buck to help out in costs. Everyone is usually cool with it.

If asking for money is a hard thing to do for some people, throw in incentives like buttons or stickers. Buttons alone are dirt cheap to make and it gives the consumer a little extra something to walk away with.
My last zine was 100 pages on legal sized paper...I buy thicker than normal paper and also had a partly-colored cover. I charged 7.00 for it - the cost for mailing alone was over 3.00. I had more orders than you would expect at that price. I think I will charge less next time, though.
After reading a bit of this thread, I've decided that if I ever sell, I will sell for $2 However, everything is trade right now.


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