Tips for Aspiring Zine Editors
compiled by shawn.
1) Pick topics you enjoy rather then trying to cater to your "audience."
2) Ask folks who you think would make interesting writers to write for your zine.
3) Friends don't always make the best contributors.
4) Even if you ask people to contribute, be prepared to do all the writing yourself.
5) If possible, have someone proof read your work before you start laying your zine out.
6) Don't, under any circumstances, expect to make money.
7) Local mom and pop record stores are usually good about letting you leave some copies of your zine on their counter (often at little or no extra expense).
9) Be open to trading copies of your zine with other zine editors.
10) Also other zine editors may be willing to distribute your zine around their towns. Offer to exchange copies with other editors and distribute them around your town. You could also leave your zine in places like coffee shops and bathrooms. Taking out ads in other zines is another useful way of promoting your zine.
11) Most importantly, have fun.
1) If someone is willing to read your words, they're paying you a tremendous honour. You're not doing them a favour, they're doing you a favour. Repay this respect by keeping your writing tight and well-edited, keep fonts legible, etc.
2) While you should write about what you enjoy, don't be entirely self-indulgent. Don't whine at length, spew stream of consciousness 'exploration writing', or write out your dreams, for example. This kind of writing comes easily but will probably bore your readers.
3) When you're researching and writing an article about some cultural phenomenon (like some art movement or political event you've become interested in), try to approach it from a unique angle, describe its broader significance or its significance to you personally. Otherwise, your readers could just get the same facts from an encyclopedia.
4) Don't reprint things off the Internet or from other magazines and newspapers. Not to avoid breaking copyright, just to avoid being totally uncreative and lazy.
5) Get feedback on each issue. Ask people other than personal friends what they thought and try to really draw their opinions out (if they try to get off with "it was interesting," counter with "what was your least favourite thing about it?"). This is the best way to improve.
6) Does distro work well with everyone, and if so, where should I send to? Distro is a path of slightly greater resistance, involving diminishing returns (smaller share of the profits), more paperwork and greater financial risk (some distros never pay). Exhaust the easy routes first, and then be sure to ask people for their opinions about various distros before dealing with them. Browsing alt.zines will also give you an idea of what experiences people here have had with various distros.
7) Attending zine shows is another very easy thing to do to get your zine out there.
The Site of Big Shoulders
1) We have set up a number of people in the role of "department editors" they're basically responsible for tracking down new original content for a specific zine department, presenting it to the rest of the editorial staff, working with the "talent," and then shepherding the feature through production. In order to occupy a department editor-level position on our zine, a person has to commit to spearheading at least one new piece of content per quarter (or contribute on a regular basis in some other way; i.e. design work, illustration, promotions, Webmastering, etc.).
2) We always get together on a weekly basis for an informal production/planning session. Usually, a lot of beer is involved, it's always very informal, and staffers are free to bring along friends (some of whom end up getting involved in the zine). We manage to get a big chunk of work done at these meetings, and I feel they have been an effective way to both keep staffers interested and recruit more people to the effort.
report new or dead sites here