What not to do in a Zine.

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    Darkroomist
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    Back on the old ning site, a great thread was started that can help Zine makers new and old. What not to do in a zine. Here’s the original post and some selected responses. Feel free to add more “Don’ts” or let us know which ones are most helpful to you.

    All posts in this main post are from old WMZ
    Posted by Krissy Ponyboy Press on October 4, 2008 at 12:25pm
    Hi Everybody,

    I was just going through a pile of zines I have. Some as old as 4 years. I was looking for a few particular ones, but thought I would separate them as ones I know I want to keep and ones to look at/read later.

    As I was going through them I found a number that had used rubber bands for “binding” and a few that were just folded with nothing holding them together. In my opinions these ways of holding a zine together suck.

    For example I dropped the box. Zines everywhere. Zines that are not stapled together come apart and unless I really know that zine and care, I don’t care enough to try and figure out how it goes together (unnumbered pages too) so that zine will get thrown away (which I think I have done to 2 zines in my life). Also, zines that are not bound in any way will fall apart in your bag and are more difficult to read (because you basically have to hold them together).

    The rubber band method seems like a good idea at the time, but rubber bends loose their elasticity pretty quickly and will break and often stick to the zine, so you are left with jacked up zine covers and no binding, which will make it prone to falling apart easily.

    Since there seem to be a lot of new zinesters on this forum I thought I would pass on this bit of info. Obviously, just my opinion, but I do have 14 years of zine collecting and writing to base it on. 🙂

    Feel free to add on your opinions and advice of what you would recommend not doing in zine making.

    by lofipi on October 5, 2008 at 1:00am
    Great topic!

    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 on October 5, 2008 at 3:35am
    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 on October 5, 2008 at 4:30am
    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 on October 5, 2008 at 6:46am
    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.

    Reply by Alex Wrekk on October 5, 2008 at 12:47pm
    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.

    Reply by Gianni Simone on October 5, 2008 at 6:30pm
    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.

    Reply by Ericfishlegs on October 5, 2008 at 11:09pm
    “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 effing 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.

    Reply by Shapes of Sweetness on October 7, 2008 at 3:53pm
    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?

    Reply by Colin Tedford on October 9, 2008 at 6:28pm
    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.

    Reply by Niku on October 11, 2008 at 9:55pm
    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…
    xoxo

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