As the self-appointed listgoddess (okay, I'm just the listmom, but that sounds a little
domestic for my personality *grin and blush*) for the
botmzines group/list at Yahoo!Groups,
I decided to throw together some pages about zines.
For starters, the "botmzines" name came from the group that inspired it, the Book Of The Month
list... BOTM. So, although our swaps aren't usually every month, the group started with that
name and so it remains.
With that bit of trivia out of the way, let's discuss zines.
First of all, if you want something that is published on time, and is proofread, has high-quality
graphics and writing, and generally sticks to the theme it had when you subscribed to it... subscribe
to a magazine. You know, like Time, or Newsweek.
Zines are published when the whim occurs to us. Oh, sure, some people manage to write right-brained
zines on a left-brained schedule. My hat is off to them. I have no idea how they manage it.
For fun, not profit
Zines are labors of love. We don't make money on them, or if we manage to show a profit
on one issue, we go crazy writing & re-writing the next issue, including color pages or something,
and--bingo--we're back in the red again. In other words, zines are not a way to make a living. Or even
pick up some extra spending money. For most of us, zines cost money to produce but we love 'em anyway. *sigh*
There are almost NO generalities that can be made about zines, so let me tell you
about my own eccentricities:
I have a love/hate relationship with my zines. They make me crazy, but I love them anyway. And
I love having zines to swap so I can get others' zines.
My zines are published at odd times, vaguely quarterly. They bear a variety of names,
also whim-based. They may
be half-pages (printed on 8 1/2" x 11" paper, folded in half), or bigger, or even smaller. Some
have cardstock covers, but most are all on the same kind of paper that came out of the
Most of my zines are b&w. Most of them are loosely related to art, especially paper
arts. Most are a mix of printed text, scribbled-in notes, and my own graphics.
Generally, after six months or so, I lose track of when people's subscriptions started,
so I close down new orders for awhile, and send out more than the subscription's
worth of copies (meaning that early subscribers can end up
with two or more times the number of issues that they ordered). And then I start up again.
that's embarrassing. In my studio, I operate in one mode only: right-brained. If you want
left-brained business practices, order only completed work from me. That part of
my business life is so psycho-organized, it's as if you're dealing with another person.
Really. I'm very Virgo, outside of my studio. I even alphabetize my spice shelf in the kitchen.)
Generally, I make zines when I receive someone else's zine and my batteries get recharged.
From the classic guide to zine-making, Zine Scene, by Francesca Lia Block &
Hillary Carlip: "Tell your story... your obsessions, your fears, your dreams, in words and pics,
because it is powerful, because it kicks, to express and connect, even if it's not always
pretty, cool, or slick." Also from Hillary Carlip, "Sometimes paper is the only thing that will
listen to you."
Worried about how it will look? Another quote from Zine Scene: "Who knows what Baroque
pearls and sizzling diamonds of content lie buried in the impossibly small print, or floppity-sloppity-scrawly
handwriting of a rough-to-read zine?"
In other words, say whatever you want to, and don't worry about how it looks. Or,
go crazy with how it looks and forget about saying anything overtly pithy. Either one works--or both!
Recommended reading, online:
My favorite resources & inspirations, offline:
- Others' zines. Plain & simple. Get your hands on as many as you can.
The easiest way is to swap! You can swap through the botmzines list at Yahoo!Groups, linked above.
- The Garage, Issue No. 2, published by Diane Moline. As far as I know, Diane makes her zines
in very small numbers, and only for swaps. I'm thrilled to own two copies of The Garage.
- Dog Eared Magazine, Issue Five, about Zines. For more info, see
- Zine Scene, a book by Francesca Lia Block and Hillary Carlip.