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How many copies of a zine make up a decent first publication?

How many copies should be created of a first zine publication? 

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Hm. I went based on contributor copies + trades arranged + ten copies on hand for etsy sales (though I don't know if it'll sell) and a few extras for 'whatevers'. It ended up being 30 copies.
I only print about 5 copies at a time because I never sell more than that in one day.  My goal was 50 copies total sold before I put it out of print.

it really depends on what you plan on doing with your zine.  Do you want to send it out for review? Are your going to send it to distros and stores for consideration? do you plan on going to zine fests to sell/trade it? are you going to trade copies with people here or on livejournal Zine_scene community? Do you plan on selling it on Etsy?


I personally always like to print more than I think i need.  Not only does this give me a good backstock so i am not constantly running to make more copies, but it also helps when someone wants to trade or a distro wants 10 copies.


I just print them as I need them, and dont have any plans to put them "out of print"..... the whole purpose of having a limited run of something is to drive up prices, and since zines arent about that, I dont see the point. I have the ability to print them any time I want, so why ever put it out of print. I usually print around 5 at a time.

When I first started, I made 20 and that was more than enough. Now I usually do an initial print run of 50 and follow it up with additional runs of 30-40 if I need them. You can always make more, I wouldn't print any more than you can realistically sell/trade/give away in a month. Unless you live very far away from a copy shop or something and can't get there at least once a month.


I do put my old zines out of print, either when I have a new one out or if I'm almost ready for a new issue. At that point, my last zine might be two years old, and it might not reflect my current frame of mind anymore. But all my zines so far have been personal/political, I would probably not put them out of print if it was an informative zine.

Well, no. Sometimes limited-run zines are that way because a) they cost a lot of money to print, b) the content is time-sensitive, c) the zinester doesn't feel like continually making copies of said zine, especially if they are prolific in their zine-making.  My first three issues of my zine will never see the light of day again because I am so completely removed from what I wrote about ten years ago (or even three years ago), you know?  So it's not for the purpose of driving up prices.


And to the OP: I usually do 30 at first, and then make more copies after that as needed until I make a new issue or whenever I don't want to print it anymore :)

Grace said:

I just print them as I need them, and dont have any plans to put them "out of print"..... the whole purpose of having a limited run of something is to drive up prices, and since zines arent about that, I dont see the point. I have the ability to print them any time I want, so why ever put it out of print. I usually print around 5 at a time.

It all depends on how much your zine costs to print and how much money you want to spend on copies you'll give away and how many you think you can sell and how much time/energy/money it saves you to print more at once.


I'll probably print 60 of the next issue of my literary zine, because I owe one to each of my three readers and two to each of my eight contributors and I have twenty subscribers and I can probably expect to sell another five to ten over the next few months through our website, and I can sell a few through Quimby's and Bluestockings though I should expect to break even on those so I won't be upset if I never get around to sending copies there. And I'm printing them at home, so I can do another batch of 10 or 20 or whatever if I need to. I don't really want to do more than 100 because then I'd need to go get more cover paper.

Thanks everyone for your input. I am taking real baby steps at the moment starting to plan and coordinate my very first zine.

I want to create something that deals with the more feminine side of stereotypical "male genres of music" such as Dupstep, Grime, Techno, Dancehall, DnB. Blending both subculture fashion and music. I'm also a bit of a electronic producer myself, making music in also heavily "male occupied" genres. So it  is perhaps geared towards quite a particular demographic.


I wanted to get a sense of what is a realistic goal to aim for in a "first publication" and I like the information you have all given. Some really interesting things to think about. The quality of the output in terms of product and costs associated seem to be something to consider in the inital scope (publication size) of the zine.So early stages havent considered that aspect yet....


I would ask another question closely related, can a zine be successful if it also extends beyond itself on say a blog or via pod casts etc? Is it common for inital issues to be very limited but to get a better sense of the future of the Zine, a website/ blog can help support it? Or is it better to be a little bit more pureist and have subscribers (hopefully) but in the meantime hook up free distribution via cafes, bars etc to build a following? I also want the zine to be able to react to the people who are likely to read it aiming at distribution of it along side gig flyers and at the suitable music events.

I'm not sure yet whether the nature of the zine would be better sat witin something that extends beyond my feelings on the subject but welcome colloboration and commentary to spread diversity in opinion? Or if it would be better being from a commentary perspective.. "informed & considered personal views" or "reactionary"


So initally does it mean somewhere like a website or blog to welcome discussion on the topics or a personal confidence in content and points of views?


As you can see - lots of things for me to still think about, let alone locking down content and creating the thing... but I guess watch this space...

It really depends on what type of zine you are doing and how wide of an audience do you want to reach. I did 200 of my first issue and went up from there. But I put a ton of time into the content and was trying to reach as many people as possible.

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