I know I’ve said it loud and proud from the rooftops that the beauty of zines is that there is no one way to make them. That still holds true, and the things I mention in this post as things that make ‘excellent’ zine are simply opinions. (Though the current post title IS much better than ‘Things You Could Consider Including in Your Next Zine’.)
That being said… There are a few things that I love to see in zines.Margin Awareness
If I’m in the right kind of mood, having words cut off by printer margins can be like a fun puzzle that I have to sort out. I’ve only ever been in that mood once.
Printers and copiers have margins on all sides that they won’t print on. (Unless you have a printer that does borderless printing, in which case I am jealous.) That’s why you get that wonderful white box around an otherwise dark/heavily cut and pasted zine.
It’s too easy to set margins in Word, InDesign, and other programs to simply ignore it. Doing things completely by hand isn’t an excuse in my book either (though Dear Anonymous 1 will show you that I learned the hard way). There are plenty of ways to take care of it – from simply being aware of the margins to using something like washi/tissue tape that will give you a border without ripping your page up when you take it off.
I get the ‘stick it to the man’ crowd who won’t be held back by ‘margins’ or ‘thinking about layout’ and such. I get not wanting to be held back creatively. But having your words get cut off because of lack of margin awareness is less ‘stick it to the man’ and more ‘stick it to the reader’. (Hint: you probably don’t want to stick it to the reader)Include Contact Info +/- Contributor Info
You probably saw this one coming because I talk so much about it in my reviews. You know how much I love zines. If I love your zine, I want to know more about any other zines you may have created or are creating. I want to follow on Instagram and Twitter. Possibly Tumblr even though that’s still a bit of a foreign world to me. There’s not a lot that I appreciate more as a thoughtful gesture as clear contact info.
I do keep in mind, however, that some people don’t want to be found/contacted/etc. So while I do make a point of it often, I am also considerate that some people want to create in an anonymous way.Only Use Your Handwriting (Or a Font) if it’s Readable
I don’t see a lot of handwriting in the zines I read, but I have seen the bad side of it. There was one zine with a subject I was very interested in, but there were handwritten parts mixed in with typed parts… and I could barely make out the handwriting. Pair that with bad margin awareness, and you have something that people are likely to put down.
A side note for fonts: I love fonts. There are so many out there, and places like DaFont.com make it easy to find exactly what you need. What you probably don’t need in your zine, however, is a lot of different fonts. There are exceptions to this (at least, I hope, because I consider Dear Anonymous to be one example of an exception), but consider your font usage carefully.A Little Bit More
I know I said three tips, but here are a few other things you *might* want to put in your next zine. You absolutely have to stay true to your vision of what you want your zine to be, and you have to do what makes sense (why put a table of contents in a four-page mini-zine?). However, there is fun to be had by thinking outside the box…
*‘First printed’ date
*# Print run
*# Zine (ex 2/30)
*Table of Contents
*Intro Page/What it’s all about
Have fun. Do what’s right for you and your zine.
Good afternoon beautiful zine people.
Today I was thinking about mail (as I do often) and how fortunate I have been to receive utter awesomeness from lovely people around the world. It hasn’t been that long since I received the very first zine sent to me from someone I had no connection with, purely for review purposes.
Receiving that absolutely blew my mind because it was one of those ‘I’m making it doing this thing I love’ moments. Not only that, the person who sent the zine did absolutely everything I could have desired as a zine review to make it easy to identify them (the info I put with each zine review) as well as establish the expectation that the zine was sent for review.
In turn, that got me thinking about tips for sending your zine to zine reviewers. It’s similar to a tips post I wrote way back when I reviewed books, and people seemed to like it, so away we go.FiveTips for Sending Your Zine to Zine Reviewers
*Check the website. They’ll often have FAQs or other ‘about’ pages that’ll answer your questions in regards to tastes, formats, genres, and even reviewing style. This is a big one in that it can save everyone a lot of time. You don’t want to send your lit zine to someone who only reviews punk music zine reviews. That sort of thing.
*Include a note. I love included notes just because, but they serve a function as well. (More on what to put in the note to follow.) I like a mystery as much as the next person, but notes are definitely helpful – especially if you don’t have an established relationship with the person you’re sending to. Even if you’ve already chatted through email and they know the zine(s) is coming, still include a note.
*Mention the website. This isn’t as important to me personally now because SeaGreenZines is the only zine-related site I have going, but it used to drive me nuts years ago when I was doing book reviews and posting book promos.
At one point, I had over half a dozen websites that I wrote for, reviewed on, and/or sold advertising space on. People would email me and say, “Here’s my ad. Thanks!” I would have no idea what site they were talking about, and it always added that much more work to my day, made me cranky, and delayed their ad going up.
*Mention how you found them. This is more fun than anything else, but I love it when people mention where they found me. Instagram, the website itself, someone else mentioning me/the site. It’s nice to know but can also be valuable in terms of letting the reviewer know what’s working as far as time investment goes.
*Include your details. I have a business card with all my links and such on it that I toss in with any zine I send to a new person. Even included in the note, this is a good move. Make it easy for people to check out your other internet spaces, and they will.
Things I Know About Cooking and Not Eating Animals
Shit and Sundries
I’m not anywhere near to being vegetarian or vegan so I have to admit that I was wondering if I would really get anything out of Things I Know About Cooking and Not Eating Animals. As it turns out, I did.
I love that S&S starts off with a funny, ‘keepin’ it real’ confession about her beginnings in becoming a vegetarian. I’m not here to judge anyone’s reasons behind their life choices, but admitting that it came from something silly makes the zine more relate-able. When you’re talking about potentially sensitive subjects, a bit of humour can definitely help.
There’s a bit of most things I think you’d expect to see in this zine. There are things she wishes she’d cooked with sooner, recipes, how to re-hydrate dried beans, and more. It certainly introduced me to some things that I’d never even heard of before (textured vegetable protein, anyone?). Plus, just because I’m not a vegetarian, it doesn’t mean I don’t love my beans and own a dehydrator.
There’s a blank page in the back for ‘notes and stuff’ that I think is cool. I’ve never seen a notes page in a zine before. That may be for obvious reasons, but I like seeing new and different things in zines.
All up, it might not be quite my thing, but it was a good zine in the subject that taught me things without preaching to me.