Introduction: Guide to Zine Making

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Zines are self published materials with short print runs. Zines can be about anything from your favorite band to what you did on your summer vacation.

The world of Zine making is a largely underground. Zines are a perfect way to express ideas or feelings that are not fit for the main stream due to their personal content or unpopular ideas. Zines are the fastest way for writers and artists to produce self published works.

This guide seeks to give aspiring Zinesters not only tips to produce their first zine but gives some background on zine culture and how to get their zines out into the world. 

Here is a 10 minute mini-documentary about zine making called Cut and Paste:

Step 1: A Quick History of Zines

The boom of self published materials can trace to pre-1960s science fiction fan mags or fanzines. These fanzines allowed amateurs as well as professionals to publish their own science fiction content and share it with one another.
In the 1960's and the increase of political activism we saw an increase in self published political papers. This tradition of political self publishing continues today.

Starting in the 70's there was an increase in zines coming out of the punk movement. These zines were much more harsh in looks then their predecessors and took on the photocopier as the holy grail of publishing capabilities. Earlier to publish most people had to know the basics of offset printing layout. With the utilizing cheap copy machines, people could have an idea, put together a booklet and pass it out the next day. This allowed the punk movement to spread ideas and to promote new kinds of music. These ideals pushed into the 80's and resulted in the zine culture we have today which involved thousands of different publications and whole festivals dedicated to the creation of zines. The zine movement was an important part of forwarding the riot grrl movement of the 1990's.


Step 2: Kinds of Zines

Although zines are difficult to classify, there are a few loose categories of zines:

Perzines - stands for "personal zine" are some of the most popular and longest running. perzines focus on personal journeys and thoughts. They are usally very revealing into the personalities of their writers and allow a space for a writer to deal with problems or share experiences

Political - these zines are just that, political. They focus on politics or opinions that the writers feel should be expressed. Many political movements in the united states produce literature this way due to zines ease and flexibility.

Music or Scene- usually focus around music happenings or "scene reports" of a certain area or music genre. These seek to expand the reach of happenings in an area and get people excited about it.

Zines can cover all or none of these categories, these are just some simple classifiers for a great number of zines. If your zine is unclassifiable DON'T PANIC, you're just that good...

Step 3: Starting Your First Zine Step 1: Why Do a Zine?

So you want to start a zine? Great! although the first step is to determine what your zine is going to be about. This can be as broad or as focused as you want. You should ask yourself what you want to accomplish with this zine:

Do you want to show off to friends and family your cool drawings?
Do you want to write about all your friend's cool bands?
Do you want to spark a revolution to get people into planting purple peaches?

Whatever it is, do it! I's easier to have a zine that is a bit  focused and that interests you.

The zine we are going to be making for an example is "My Love and Fear Of Robots". I like electronics but i also watch too many terminator movies....

Step 4: Starting Your First Zine Step 2: Gathering Materials

The materials you will need to layout your first zine should include the way you want to lay it out. You could do this by computer, but where is the fun in that?

we are going to use the ageless technology of "Cut and Paste". Doing cut is paste is for sure messier than using inDesign or some other program, yet the feeling of a hand layout zine is so much more raw.More professional looking zines use computer layout for the most part, yet your zine could use a blended technique of printing out text and images and pasting them to your master sheets.

For cut and paste zines you will need:
-Glue (Use removable glue stick if you want to be able to reposition things)
-Pens (Sharpies give you more street cred, magnum markers make you pass-out)
-X-Acto knife (optional)

To make it look even neater the following items help:
- Stock images and clip art from other publications
- typewriter or rub off lettering
- an all in one printer to do simple copies or to enlarge or shrink images.

Step 5: Starting Your First Zine Step 3: Putting Together the Master Pt 1

Once you have some idea of what you want to do and the materials with which to do it, it's time to start making a zine. The zine you paste together will be know as the "Master". Take care of your master copy just in case you ever want to do a reprint of your zine.

You can decide to do it any size or shape, for your master however it maybe best to do it on white paper with black inks. This will allow the content to show up much better when you make copies.

It is also important to be aware of collation of pages. Its a good idea to decide how long your zine will be and take that many pages and fold them up and do your layout that way. Otherwise the layout process can get very complicated very quickly.

For this instructable we are using One 8.5x11 piece of paper, folded in half.

Step 6: Starting Your First Zine Step 3: Putting Together the Master Pt 2

Next you want to use scrap paper to do some drawings and lettering. Cut out the shapes. Get stock images and cut those out and place them around as well. draw or create backgrounds. Get creative! Treat it like a collage!

Once you like what you have do a loose layout by hand. When you like it paste it down.

You can use typewriters, computer print outs and hand drawn stuff for this process. For simplicity i used just a sharpie and paper.

Step 7: Starting Your First Zine Step 4: Makin' Copies

One you have your master copy done, it's time to make copies. For short print runs you will most likely want to go to a copy store. If you plan on doing a lot of copies, you should take it to a printer.

When getting copies try to find the cheapest places. It is much cheaper to make your own copies but if you want to get it done, most places will copy, fold and staple for a small fee. College towns seem to have really good copy prices down to 3 cents each.

Step 8: Getting Your Zine Out There

Once you have some copies made it's time to get your zine out into the world!

The best way to begin this is to give your zines to friends for feedback. It's also good to go to small music venues, infoshops, bookstores, or record stores that carry zines and ask if they would be willing to carry yours. For a list of infoshops click here. Zines usually range in price from 1-3 dollars.

Don't expect to get your first zine in all the shops right away, Becoming a good zinester takes practice! You can also make a website that allows people searching for zines to find you and buy copies.

If you're really adventurous, you can contact zine distributors and ask if they want  to carry your zine. A large website like this is Microcosm Publishing. For More Distributors Click Here.

Zine Fests can be a fun way to meet other zinesters and share your newly found love of small press. A few of these events happen every year including:
- San Francisco Zine Fest
- Portland Zine Symposium
- New York Zine Fest

If you want your zine to get reviewed by a large crowd of zinesters mail it to Zine World, they are pretty honest and constructive. Zine world also has a listing of zines they review. A really good way to obtain new zines and get people to read yours is to do zine trades by mailing the same number of zines with someone.

Due to the significance of zines in our culture, many libraries are now starting up around the United States. A list of these libraries can be found here.

Step 9: The Second Issue and Final Thoughts

Now you have a great zine, it's in all the shops and all your friends read it. The largest question is one of should ask is "Should I Do Another?"
Having a long standing zine is no small feat but for the right people its a very successful thing. Other zines are one issue and stand great alone.

Zine making is an extremely rewarding process and can allow a wide range of artistic expression to be displayed. Zines are much simpler than other forums of publication and much cheaper.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable. Please post your own zines you have made on any range of topics. If this instructable inspired you, please post your own zines, hopefully we can get an instructables zine culture to flourish!