Reply To: What NOT to do in a ZINE

Main Forums General Zine Making What NOT to do in a ZINE Reply To: What NOT to do in a ZINE



by lofip (old WMZ)
1. I would recommend not leaving pages unnumbered unless the numbers severely inhibit the style you’re going for. I know it makes it harder to collate the pages (uhhh….) but it’s worth it for the reader because even non-rubber-band-bound pages can become unbound. (Rubber bands – they’re so horrible when they ooze that glue/resin/stickiness.) It’s also ever so slightly cute when they’ve been bound wrong, but I almost didn’t say that. Far be it from me to encourage conscious acts of faux-unconsciousness, if that makes sense!

OK, other flashes of insight have just hit:

2. Don’t leave a zine unsigned unless anonymity is part of your style (your ‘art’). Nicknames are fine. Symbols a la Prince are fine. A chicken scratch. An X. I mean, you can leave it unsigned but you won’t make me happy. I forget why it’s important but it always strikes me as frustrating when I finish a zine and can’t define the creator in any way. But – again – maybe anonymity is your whole point. So be that.

3. Don’t forget to leave a means for people to contact you. Don’t leave an address you know you’ll be leaving within the next year or two unless you also provide a more stable email address. So frustrating not to be able to contact you! Unless you don’t want to be contacted, of course. Your prerogative always. But for others, take heed.

by Gianni Simone (old WMZ)
Considering what has been discussed in a couple other forums, I’d say:
DO NOT forget to specify if you DO NOT want other people to give away/sell/photocopy your zine. Otherwise they may understand they can do whatever they want with it.

by Andrew Culture (old WMZ)
And for the love of god give us a contact of some sort!

I also like when zines say when they were first printed, the lifespan of zines is huge and it’s sometimes cool to realise a foreign zine has taken years to make it’s way to you!

The staples thing really bugs me too, I tend to staple zines that arrive loose myself!

by Agua Pura zine (Old WMZ)
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.

by Alex Wrekk (old WMZ)
I spent a bunch of time reading zines after the Portland Zine Symposium and even wrote some letters to find t hat there was not contact info anywhere and some people don’t even put their name in them! How and I supposed to get my old school zinester mail on if I can’t send a letter!

Also, I think it was a zine librarian lamenting the fact that zines don’t put dates on them and it makes it impossible for archiving. i think since 2002 I have been putting the season and the year in my zines like “Summer 2008” because I never really feel like tying down to one dates, but it seems that putting a season ties it down well enough.

by Gianni Simone (old WMZ)
If other people contribute to your zine, why not include their postal and/or e-mail address, and maybe some info on what zine(s) they make? If I like their contribution, I would probably want to contact them.

by Ericfishlegs (old WMZ)
“Also, I think it was a zine librarian lamenting the fact that zines don’t put dates on them and it makes it impossible for archiving. i think since 2002 I have been putting the season and the year in my zines like “Summer 2008″ because I never really feel like tying down to one dates, but it seems that putting a season ties it down well enough.”

This is a good one that in all my years of zining has never occured to me.

Another one- if you say you will accept trades then you should accept fucking trades. If you say “selective trades” or “contact me first” that’s fine, but if you say you’ll accept any and all trades then you’re more or less obligated to take any and all trades.

Along those same lines- if someone sends you cash for a zine make sure you send them a zine asap. First of all if you wait too long you’re likely to lose the address. Second of all, people get kind of peeved if you keep them waiting 3 months for a $2 zine.

by Samantha Trees (old WMZ)
I just did a zine making workshop and talked for like 10 minutes about how awesome it is to actually bind your zine, and how ESSENTIAL page numbers are. I then taught everyone how to use sewing to bind their zine. Totally awesome.

by Shapes of Sweetness (old WMZ)
Yeah, goodness in this thread. Good binding is important to the max. Yeah and you gotta definitely watch your margins. One thing I found interesting though is I never thought about putting the season and the date. That’s a great idea, totally space cased the idea of dating your zine, I’m doin’ it from now on. About the copying issue, yeah wouldn’t you assume if the author didn’t say you could copy the zine that you can’t? Also what’s everyone’s preferred method of binding?

by Colin Tedford (old WMZ)
As others have said, please number pages (makes it easier to refer to things when people write to you, among other things!), include contact info, and make it legible. Also, I really like to have the author’s name (or pen name) clearly on the cover – it surprises me how many people don’t do this. Date (or at least season & year) of 1st printing is good. And as mentioned above, DO NOT staple through the edge like you would a regular unfolded stack of paper. If you must, please tape over it with duct / electrical / bookbinding tape to prevent injury. But really, a long-arm stapler doesn’t cost that much, especially if you plan to keep making zines – and you can always use the one at the copy shop if need be.

by Katie D (old WMZ)
In regards to sewing, if the zine is relatively thin you could probably put it through a sewing machine. I have seen people do it for art based objects so I dont see why you couldnt do it with a zine.

by Lucky Sia (old WMZ)
I think it could be fairly thick, but you’d need to use a heavy needle (like for sewing jeans). However, one point here would be to make the stitches quite long. I have sewn little paper books on the sewing machine before. If you make the stitches too close together, it is like perforations and the paper will come apart where you meant to stick it together. 🙂

by Rick Bradford (old WMZ)
All good suggestions! I especially like the suggestion of including a date and contact info — you never know when that stuff will benefit you.

Also, I want to repeat the suggestion that if you don’t mind other people copying and distributing your work then make that clear. That’s if you don’t mind. I think if the subject is not broached within a zine then the safe assumption is that it’s not okay to copy and distribute at will (contacting the zinester would be the next move).

by Niku (old WMZ)
has legible font been mentioned? I love mini zines but sometimes the font is so small and crammed together (i.e. no spacing or layout of any kind), I just can’t read it. Plenty of larger zines have way too small font too.
I understand saving money by getting as much material into a few pages as possible, but if no one can stand to read it, it doesn’t matter. try at least 10 point, if you can’t fit it into the fewer pages, reorganize it into an additional issue. In my opinion if you have to charge 50 cents more or something, that is totally fine and worth it. Also, ask Ciara – she has a lot of ideas for and experience with making zines both efficient as well as easy to read and good layout.
Please please!
I also second the margin thing, I find it challenging myself and will just say, add extra extra margin room just to be safe. not all copiers can really be trusted…

by Gianni Simone (old WMz quotes too)
Bri zine said: “i feel the name on the cover is a personal choice and its not like i’d turn a zine down if the author’s name WAS on the cover. i just don’t think of it as something that should be a little more ‘mandatory’ like being safe with staples haha…of course your name should be somewhere on the zine (unless you’re going the anonymous route) but i don’t think it has to be the cover.”

I may be wrong but I think Colin did not really mean the front cover. You could put it on the inner covers, for example, where other info (e.g. address, etc.) usually end up. That’s what I do anyway. But as you say, everybody has the right to remain anonymous.

Bri zine said: “i once got an email from a guy who told me my zine was too much like a blog or diary entry. he told me i needed to write more reviews because thats what other zines did. he’d obviously never heard of a perzine, and i highly disagreed with him, but i did look back on the issue i had given him, and saw how the writing could have been better.”

I always take these things as “constructive criticism,” which does not mean I’m always going to follow people’s suggestions, but at the very least their opinions help me put things in perspective. Even in your case, it made you think about what you were writing.

Krissy PonyBoy Press said: “I have gotten to the point now where I choose mostly basic sans-serif fonts. If you use fonts with serifs or fancy fonts that are too thin, then if the copies you are getting made are not the highest quality, they can be very hard to read and sometimes kind of disappear.”

This is an interesting point of view because so far I’ve always heard the opposite opinion. There are even some hardcore font lovers who for a number of reasons would like to get rid of the whole sans-serif group. One thing everybody seems to agree with is that sans-serif fonts are good with big sizes, while serif fonts (e.g. Time New Roman) works best with small sizes. This is because the serif portion of the font make the letters stand out more. I’ll have to ask around about this…

by Colin Tedford (old WMZ)
Gianni Simone said: “I may be wrong but I think Colin did not really mean the front cover. You could put it on the inner covers, for example, where other info (e.g. address, etc.) usually end up. That’s what I do anyway. But as you say, everybody has the right to remain anonymous.”

No, I definitely meant on the front cover. I currently organize my zines by author (except the anthologies, of course), and having a name on the cover makes life a lot easier. It also helps with recognition – if someone liked your zine, and you publish a one-off or another title, they can recognize that and may be more likely to pick it up. I understand not everyone wants to, but I’m a big advocate for it and thought maybe it just never occurred to some people. It’s true, though, that the main thing is to have a name (real or pseudonymous) and contact info somewhere in the zine.

by Dorian Shaw(old WMZ)
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.

by Alicia (old WMZ)
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.

by b stein (old WMZ)
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.

by Anna Xen (old WMZ)
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?

by ManDuh (old WMZ)
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.

by Erica S. (old WMZ)
For stapling, you can also use a regular-length stapler and staple into a carpet or corkboard, then bend down the sharp ends with your thumb. Might want to put a band-aid on first though, and it obviously wouldn’t be economical for big print runs. (Also, had no idea that there were different types of staples in different countries… VHS tapes, DVDs, AC plugs, and now staples, you learn something new every day.)

by riotgrrrlaz (old WMZ)
This is such a great topic! So many good points have been hit on already that I find it hard to come up with something beneficial to add. I definately agree that the binding of a zine is important, as well as page numbering and contact information. If someone really enjoys yr zine and want to let you know this they can only do so if they have yr contact information or if they want to pass yr name and contact info on to others who may like yr zine… a lack of contact information is really only going to harm the zinester.
I think its important to always remember to give appropriate credit in yr zine to others who have contributed or to others whom you have “borrowed” information – it’s like writing a paper in school… you need to be sure to reference where you obtained information so that proper credit is given and copyright infringement is avoided. And if you decide to review another zine within yr own zine…. PLEASE include contact information on that zine. I have found myself interested in a zine after reading its review but to only be disappointed that there was no info on how I could obtain that zine.
And when using black and white copies of photographs in yr zine….please make sure they are not so dark that the reader cannot make out what the picture is of. I find that if I have to spend a lot of time trying to decipher what something is that I lose interest in that zine rather quickly and it gets put aside and may or may not be picked up again at a later date.

by Rosemary May Richings (old WMZ)
I’m quite new to zine making (I’ve only been making zines for about a year) that I learned over the past year that I learned over the past year and well…I learned because they were little mistakes I made along the way:
1.  Never staple together the master copy even though you can easily take out staples stuff can very easily get accidentally ripped. It makes photocopying a little bit more difficult then it needs to be.
2.  don’t forget to number your pages this is so important!! Order mistakes can create so much unnecessary frustration.
3. Invest in a good quality glue stick. I had to replace my glue stick three times because it ran out on me when trying to glue together zine pages, it was very annoying. I blame the shitty quality of the glue.
4. Don’t forget to include contact info and name.
5.  don’t forget  to factor in margins if not words could easily be cut off.

by Sarah Arr (old WMZ)
I think clearly pricing your zine is pretty important, too. That way people know what the cost is for ordering and don’t have to waste time (and potentially postage) asking. 

And, while editing is important, you should have someone else look over it, too. Chances are, you’ve been staring at your zine content for somewhere ranging from days to weeks. Let someone look at it with fresh eyes. Case in point? I worked on my zine for almost a month leading up to Philly Zine Fest last year, was very pleased with the content and having gotten done in time. I had a collate/fold/staple party with a friend, and it wasn’t until she got home with a copy that we realized I had misspelled the name of my zine on the cover. Yup. That happened. 

  • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  Darkroomist.