Make Your Own Zine in a Few Simple Steps

bigstock-stack-of-magazines-informati-65467588-672x372If you have a burning desire to share your ideas with the rest of the world, zines (pronounced zeen) are a fantastic way to go. Your creative ideas, tips, illustrations, graphic design, photography, poetry, artwork, recipes, comics, stories – in fact nearly any idea that you wish to share with the rest of the world – can be turned into a small publication. While the zine world is expanding, it is really seen as a niche publishing opportunity for you to share your unique perspective with like-minded people of the world. Here are a few things you need to think of during your zine making process.

Who is the zine for?

You also need to determine the reason why you want to put your zine out into the market. Is it for exposure? To share ideas? Or is it a portfolio of work or a way to showcase your talent? Perhaps you just want to collaborate with other like-minded people who you may ask to contribute. Set your intentions behind the zine early. Is it a one off or do you see a series developing? Zines may change over time, however having a clear focus and setting goals upfront is critical.

The title

This is obviously one of the most important decisions you will make during the zine process. The title becomes the masthead of the zine. You also want to think about the tone you are creating, and then design a logo for the zine title in accordance with that tone.

Size

A4, A5, A6. What size you do want the zine to be? Often zines are small, however this doesn’t have to be the case. You can use A3 paper and fold it in half, and there is your first 4 page zine! Or use A4 paper and fold in half, and you have a 4 page A5 zine. Fold it again and there is your 8 page A6 zine. Simple! Play around with size and feel the difference in the publication you will create. Do you want a pocket book, or something larger that people can read leisurely at home? Play around with how the zine could be laid out.

Number of pages

It is all about the content! Remember, content is king. This is what will get you noticed and have people coming back. You need enough content to make the zine interesting and engaging, and not too much information that it turns the reader away (if they were looking for a book, they would have got one!). When choosing the number of pages, be sure that you know you can fill them all. You don’t want to be struggling for content if you decide to create a series of zines. Map out what will be on each page in pencil first. Where it will sit, how big will it be, etc. Ask yourself:
  • What is the information you wish to convey on each page?
  • How much content do you already have, or need to create?
  • Will there be a mixture of graphics and text?
  • What is the call to action, if any, on each page or throughout the zine?

Play with layout

You can cut and paste images and text to arrange on the page and mock-up a draft version first. Then, use blu tac or glue to stick the images and text to the page. Using blue tac before sticking the paper down will allow you to move it around and change the layout if it doesn’t seem to be working. You can look through magazines to see what format works for you, and recreate this style of design for yourself.

Is your aim to make money or give it away free?

If your zine is distributed for free and your only goal is for it to be seen, then a lower cost version may be the way to go. The cheapest zine format is a two-sided black and white printed zine. You might start out giving the zine away for free and hope to gain a following over time. As your following increases, you can start to think about colour or even glossy versions. If you want to sell the zine, having higher quality prints might just be what’s necessary to attract customers willing to pay cash. Contact Dark Horse for more information on printing options.

Distribution

Where do you plan to distribute your zine? This is critical to your success. You can hand it out on a street corner, and drop it on the counters of a few shops that might have a similar target audience to your zine. Drop some in the library, or maybe try to sell them through local or independent bookshops. Your zine has a unique look and feel, so it could be something that adds a new dynamic to a bookstore. Speak to your local writer’s festival – they may just be looking for some unusual content. There are even zine fairs which you can attend and see what’s happening in the zine world. Online distribution is also a method worth investigating.The more you distribute to the right audience, the better your zine will sell. Ask people for help, and you might be surprised what comes your way.

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