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my best friend and i decided to make a compilation zine and we just finished the first issue. most of the contributors were friends and family and didn't have any experience with zines (neither did my best friend and co-editor.) it sucked! they gave me work that was not inked in, had errors, was a janky size, or strayed to the far corners of the pages. i ended up doing a lot of work to get everything in order because of
their mistakes.

i can't just reject submissions, because i need as many as i can get, and i know the contributors personally. i was thinking about telling each person that they have to make and show me a decent looking zine before contributing so they understand what will look good in print and what won't. you know the deal -- stay in the margins, dark enough lettering and art, legible writing...

does anyone have advice as to how to politely get these people to learn how to make things ready to copy?

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If they don't have any experience with zines, I bet a lot of them would never bother to make their own zine so they can contribute to yours. And, if you're worried about offending them, that's could also offend them.

Write up a little guide for making submissions good for your zine. Give it out to anyone who might contribute. If people don't follow it, just politely tell them you can't use it. Or, if you're desperate for submissions, you might need to accept that editing something is just work that sometimes includes dealing with fixing other people's work.
Give them a template in which to worth with. Ask them to use a gel ink pen and print clearly. Tell them to edit their work before giving it to you.

The other thing you could do is only have them give you words.... and then YOU create the asthetic of the zine.
Sweetie, I know exactly how you feel.

I have a feeling that you're making a cut and paste zine? A lot of your problems could be alleviated by using Microsoft Publisher. If you have a scanner then you can scan the subs in, tweak it in photoshop or in publisher, print it out, and then still cut and paste to put it all together.

If it's just a really shitty submission, you can always do what I do...tell them that you're out of room for this issue but you will save their submission for a future issue. :)
Christina Wheeler said:
If it's just a really shitty submission, you can always do what I do...tell them that you're out of room for this issue but you will save their submission for a future issue. :)

You tell them you'll save it for a future issue an then presumably ignore it, since you already know it's a really shitty submission?

That seems horrendously rude to me.

As a follow-up to the thread you started about flaky contributors: If I didn't realize you were trying to blow off my submission, that would at least come across as flaky if I was contributing to your zine. Either way, it would make me take submitting to your zine less seriously.
thank you all for the tips!!
i decided to communicate individually with each potential contributor that i need error-free high contrast work in this and this size, inked in, etc. i've been stressing it. a lot. i'm crossing my fingers it will get the message across. going to have more "zine making parties" where people work on submissions at my house to give them advice while they work, too.

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