The 2021-2022 Zine Creation Kit:
A guide to making professionally produced fanzines for COVID-19 times

Welcome ✨


This guide began as a stop-gap to explain what may have changed in the creation of fanzines, post-COVID. However, as we kept working on it, we realised there is a lot of knowledge that has been picked up which is not really documented anywhere in an accessible manner. So here it is, our version of “common sense”, or “good zine sense”, combining experience with the formal training we are lucky to have from real life.


I guess now the question is, who are we to write this? We are zine mods and zine participants. The count is above 30 zines now over the past 4 years, split about 50/50 with modding and participation. We have been head mods, emergency mods, invited onto mod teams, worked on a project which made over 800 sales... we’ve been through some pretty crappy situations, including money theft... but we are still here. Because we think it’s important. Mostly, because zines are fun!


Zines can be large or small, simple or complicated. Overall, they are an expression of something, and there can be as many ways to make them as there are to run them. The “good zine sense” in this guide aims to impart what we think is a solid foundation in an accessible way and give you information on how to develop your own judgement.


So you have been linked to this guide, maybe you came here via search, or it could be something else. Thank you for giving us a chance, and we hope you learn something.


Main authors

Calamari-san (contact through Zine Town or Fan Events Hub Discord; DMs ok but you will get a longer answer via email)

Ray @flux_fiction (my DMs are a void they might get buried sorry!!!)

What is a zine?


As defined by this guide, a zine (used to denote modern / professionally printed fanzine, where "fan zine" comes from "magazine") is a collaborative production with enough complexity to require multiple staffing. They usually take the form of small magazines or books, and may be digital-only or include physical components. Physical components will tend to be produced via factories and manufacturing, but not necessarily.


The biggest indicator if a project might fall under what this site calls a "zine" would be if those involved are international, vs. traditional zines or doujins, which are more local distribution.


...and a traditional zine?

Fanlore time! (warning: wiki dive)

Individual modding guides marked with a 🌟 are stable.

Items marked as 🔰 are suggested start points for beginners, they contain concepts which will need time to develop.

Markings of 🧰 are suggested for more experienced as they contain info you might add to your toolkits.

A kind suggestion: As this website contains well over 20k of text by now, it might be useful to use the search bar.

Thank you for your attention!!

A note to zine makers


There is a lot of information out there:

  • Digital? Physical?

  • Interest check?

  • Mod apps?

  • Contributors?

  • Money?

  • Red flags?!

  • ???


It's about “a usual way” of doing zines which has emerged in the last year and a half. People will send messages asking about why elements from the usual way are not being applied. It might also be hard to recruit help if your experienced help is expecting something based on their existing experience and you have decided to do something else (and this is a known double-edged blade of hiring established talent). There are many reasons this is how it is, and they are good reasons.


I thank and acknowledge the efforts of all those who have been involved in zines that had to push through hardships and drama for a successful finish. It’s because of you, particularly those who stepped up and worked extra hard, that I am still here and can still believe in the passion behind why someone would make a zine.


Yes, please use the usual way if you are unsure. But if you have your own ideas and plans, they can also be done. Without new people and new ideas, the zine space won’t continue to evolve!


I hope this guide shares some principles that help guide your upcoming project. For experienced mods, I hope it can be something you can share for a better rest. For we know how it is to be kept up by zine worries at night.


Rooting for your success!!


- calamariさん

Closing


For further information, you should be able to find it by searching up some of the terms we have used but not sufficiently explained (e.g. “managing expectations”).


A lot of the guides that exist at the moment rehash all the same topics in slightly different ways. This is ok. Now as the zine scene gets bigger and more established, a lot of roles have become conceptualised, and they are missing stories. What purpose do so many roles have? What does an Art Mod really do? Maybe it’s time for other types of guides that don’t yet exist. We gave a them a first attempt as well.


You can agree or disagree with what is written.


You are welcome to take screenshots of this guide and post wherever you like, we have chosen to use a Creative Commons license to allow people to make adaptions while also protecting the work.


You can take a screenshot as a starting point and post it with information about your own zine-making methods around it. If you send us a link, we will add it as an extra resource in the guide. (I think we will keep hinting this. How are there so many zines yet so little documented infos for them...)


We would be the first to say that there’s still more areas that can be expanded upon. Actually, since this guide ended up as just general information for how to run collaborative passion projects, it would be nice if this guide can end up helping you teach us how you make your zines!


A thanks to everyone who’s contributed information to help shape this guide. Some of them are, in alphabetical order: 99nzhe, Asteria, Blue, Justice, lia_baldacci, Luna Chai, Marge, nini, Silvermoon, Sonder, tempural, Ruby, zxny; and others.


An incredible amount of thanks to the wonderful and patient proofreader-slash-content reviewer, birdeatfish, for their eyes on the first version of this guide (check out their free to download, original Streets Of zines! A wonderful role model for the current space of zines~).


Finally, we are so very grateful to you for your interest in reading our... 20k words guide(? Thesis? Book?) Our contact details are provided for any comments or questions.
Any errors are our own.


If we didn’t get to something... guess that means someone needs to write another guide.


Disclaimers, housekeeping information, etc.

This site focuses on the fan projects that have experienced an almost frenetic explosion of activity since 2018. Unlike traditional zines, most are short-term, one-off projects composed of multi-member organisational teams establishing formal shopfronts, printing books on professional presses, and sourcing merchandise directly from suppliers or manufacturers.

Our aim in this guide is to provide enough theory for individuals to develop their own success framework. We celebrate diversity and prefer to link to specific methodologies.

Please write your own guides so we can tell everyone about them :)

The guide is published for free by Hirumberyl Creative Services, which was founded in efforts to assist fanzines. All text, screenshots and photos on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where cited as being by anyone other than those in Hirumberyl. Under the terms of the license, you are free to copy, redistribute, or adapt the material, provided credit is given and you do not use it for commercial purposes. (This summary does not replace the license.)

On Twitter, @flux_fiction may be tagged if desired. Updates will continue to be added to this guide at least until December 2022, and we will edit this section if anything changes.

Analytics is enabled on this site (page views, scrolls, clicks, and video engagement) to help us understand which areas might be of most interest/relevance to readers and help us decide what to work on next.

An official ebook version will be made available at some later opportunity.

Changelog:

  • June 2022: More elaborations to Production, Finances updated, Advanced Finances added.

  • January 2022: Have added some more oddly specific information on Production and Head Mod pages. 2021 findings and more Additional Resources added to Other Information. Finances page is updated to reflect increases in production costs at the end of 2021.

  • (date lost): More regional shipping infos added thanks to various inputs through Discord servers

  • 20 August: Regional shipping infos added. Homepage re-organised for easier navigation.

  • 18 August: Correction of some errors. Guide is now mostly stable.

  • July - August: Adding more details. Checking of the content is still in progress.

  • 30 July 2021: Original posting.