Welcome! This resource was created to help people who are new to this zine community to learn. This resource was made for both people who wish to purchase zines and apply to them, so some information may not be relevant to your situation.What is a Zine?
There are some variations of zines. In this context, it's a physical or digital self-published book that is available for a limited amount of time. Most zines have a small window of when it will be available, you will not be able to get the zine after the window is closed.
Although there are zines that are made, produced, and shipped by one person; this guide will be covering collaborative zine projects that feature a group of moderators and contributors.
Projects may also be referred to as: art books, anthologies.Some of the projects within the community are not book-based and vary from: calenders, planners, playing cards, tarot cards. Although the end product is different, the process is typically the same.How do zines work online?
1. Pre-production Period: The moderators start a zine project, determining its theme and specifications; how many contributors, how big the zine will be, where the profit will go, or if it will be released for free.2. Creation Period: Contributors — writers and artists — will be brought into the project to create content. Some zines will also offer merch from charms to stickers.3. Preorder Period: After the creation period a zine will enter the preorder period. For a limited amount of time will be available for purchase. Some zines may have leftovers where they sell low grade merch.
Free zines will just be released, usually for an infinite amount of time.4. Post-production Period: Products are shipped, or digitally released. Charity zines make their donations. Contributors are told when they can release their zine pieces.
What would you like to learn about?
Disclaimer: Every zine is different. These are just tips and some general information about zines. They aren't guaranteed to help you find successful zines or get accepted into zines.
So... you found a cool zine. Now what?
Research. Research. Research. Any zine shared by a zine retweet/reblog account does not have an automatic green check of approval for being credible. Take your time to research the zines you choose to dedicate time to and support. Do not blindly invest yourself to something you know nothing about.So where should you start? When it comes to researching zines, the most important things to consider is "What do I know about the zine?" and "Who are the mods?". The goal is not to encounter a displeasing surprise.1. The Basics
This is the bare minimum of what you should know about the zine. Zine concept , content restrictions — or lack of them —, timeline, compensation.2. Mod Credibility
The people are the face of the zine they control the project. They're responsible for sharing news about the zine, to look over contributor applications, and make decisions for the zine. You want someone you can trust in this role.3. Mod Roles
What exactly are the mods doing? What does these roles entail?;tldr
Just need a refresher? Here's a summary
Zine TimelinesTypically a zine will run from about 6 to 9 months depending on the size of the project. It's broken up into a few parts:
Interest Check - to gauge what potential customers and contributors want from the project and how to move forward
Creation Period - when content is being made; usually when spotlights go out
Preorders - this only happens once. Zines are typically run as single print & limited time. No reprinting . If you want the zine, mark it in your calendar multiple times.
Production/Shipping Period - when zines and merch are ordered and shipped to the shipping mod and then shipped to customers
Leftovers The absolute LAST time to get anything if you missed preorders. Oftentimes these pieces may include grade B quality and anything leftover. (This is mostly for merch since it is typically bought in bulk and not a specific amount)
PLEASE NOTE not all zines have leftover sales. DO NOT rely on leftovers if you REALLY want a zine.
Zine AnnouncementsThis is information typically shared as content throughout the zine period.
Mod Info released before mod applications AND updated before contributor applications. See Mod Credibility for more
Contributor List typically released within two weeks of emails being sent, at the LATEST. Sometimes zines do need time to correspond with potential contributors as well as collect information, create the graphics, and correctly tag 30-40 contributors. Although it is a simple task, it is time-consuming. Should be posted BEFORE the first check-in.
Spotlights varies from zine to zine, typically gives you a sense on what type of content can be inside the zine. Optional
Previews typically released throughout preorders, but could also start before. This gives you an inside peek at what is inside of the zine. Usually, previews are posted by the contributors and reblogged/tweeted to the zine accounts.
Charity Donation Typically this is the last post from a zine account, concluding the project. The zine has to be a charity zine.
Information you should pay attention to:Mod Information Availability
Often times moderators will wait for a full team before announcing who is on their team but I find this to be a red flag. Mod information should be available of all mods on the team before mod applications go out.
TIP: Do not apply to a zine if there is NO mod information available. You have the right to know who you will be working with.Tone
There should be some professionalism from the zine. How do they reply to questions, are they courteous or rude?Check out the FAQ
Often times it has answers to most of the information you need. Usually, it should be in an easy to find space — usually, the zine Tumblr or card will have a link easily accessible.
TIP Do NOT go straight to the ask box or Curiouscat with your questions. Check out the FAQ and social media pages to see what information they are providing to the public without needing to be prompted.Deadlines
Keep track of deadlines if you wish to apply or preorder!
TIP for Mods: Make the deadline easy to see if you're advertising something! Type it out in text area as well as having it in the image, especially if you have it in a gif and it is not always present!Accessibility
Personally I look at how easily accessible information is. Can I easily find the information or do I have to dig for it? I believe if the information is easily available, the mods are showing themselves as communicative and organized. Two traits that you want from a Moderator, especially as a contributor.What to look for in the FAQ:
Content Rating - SFW (13+) or NSFW (18+)
Content Warnings and Restrictions - no shipping, only shipping. Gore? Smut? Violence?
Zine Specs - how big the zine is (A5, Letter, etc), is it digital or print? How many contributors are they planning on accepting?
Proceeds - where does the money go? Charity or to the contributors? Maybe it's a free zine.
Charity - some zines begin with a charity in mind while others wait till around preorders to announce. Some zines may wait
Compensation - some zines promise a free printed version of the zine, while some only promise a digital copy and a physical copy ONLY if the preorder permits. Merch artists are sometimes only compensated with the merch they designed.
The information you receive WILL vary depending on what stage the zine is at.
Here are some things you should look for when looking up moderators. If you were thinking of becoming a moderator it helps to build up your credibility as well.Red Flag If a mod refuses to give information about themselves "before a full mod team is assembled" do not pass go, do not collect $200, and do not apply to the zine. You deserve to know who you will be working with.Social Media
Often times if a mod refuses to share their social media profiles, it is because they have something to hide. Newly-made profiles as well as empty profiles are something to look out for as well. One social media link speaks more than some non-informative paragraph about their interests in relation to the zine theme.
A Social media link is equivalent to putting a name to a face. You get to know them more as a person.Age
Not required on the zine page, in my opinion, but should not be hard to find if looking into the mod team. Age is also extremely important if the zine has NSFW content even as a side zine — all mods should be over 18.
Red Flag: A finance mod should be over the age of 18. Most zines use Paypal and the qualifications for making an account is to be over 18.Experience
Often times online experience is the best form of experience as it can be looked up. Past zine mod experience is what most zines look for but overall, something that shows the ability to commit to a long-term project is a good experience. For example, experience moderating events like big bangs or fan weeks/months. Contributor experience in zines as well as big bang participation are also applicable.Past Projects
Have they completed projects already and how did they turn out? Look up the zines to check them out. If you know people from their past projects, don't be afraid to ask about how they were on the project.
Red Flag: Being in too many ongoing zines at once. Consider the schedule of each zine as well as their job.
A mod team is very important, some roles maybe more important to you. Here's some more information about teamsMod Size
Most mod teams average around 5 people to help balance the responsibilities and roles that are need to make the project run smoothly.
Tip: Watch out for bigger zine teams, oftentimes it allows the opportunity for people to just "hang out".Mod Intern
Interning is a way to get some experience as a mod. Typically Interns help with organization and communication.
these roles are often accompanied with another role and sometimes not mentioned
started the project
make the discord server
is not and should not be a stand alone role.
usually a combo of organization and communication mod
A general mod is not needed if an organization & communication mod is listed
usually knows what's happening and neeeds to be done
keeps things organized: spreadsheets, google drive, inquiries
usually manages the discord server
usually knows what's happening
typically talks to the contributors
often times keeps track of check-ins
in charge of artists
usually has more say in artist assignments and applications
in charge of writers
usually has more say in writers assignments and applications
betas fics for zine
the person who's putting the zine together
often times the graphics mod
works with the production and/or shipping mod to make the zine and determine the specs
knowledge in printing, designing for print, and book making (if in a printed zine)
knowledge in Indesign or software equivalents
basic knowledge in typesetting (if there are fics, its important)
can make templates
should be 18+
often times the shipping mod
knows of manufacturers
usually makes templates
prepares merch for printing
should have experience making merch
these roles are often more time consuming
Social Media Mod
runs all the social media accounts: twitter, tumblr, instagram, carrd, curiouscat, email
sometimes works with the graphic mod to plan social media events
probably should know some html/css for tumblr or at least how it works
has the most time sensitive job as posts usually go up at specific times of the day
social media pages typically run in their timezone
requires time management and organization skills as well as technical skills
should have knowledge in basic design practices and typesetting
knowledge in design software of choice
designs all the social media graphics: contributor list, mod list, spotlights, banners, preorder graphics, store graphics
usually does chunks of work at a time then waits until needed again
sometimes works with an illustrator to make the cover
typically designs the tumblr and carrd layouts
is often times the layout mod
needs to be 18 +
manages store front with shipping mod
manages the paypal
needs to be knowledgeable in taxes
should be 18+
should have experience shipping packages
must be able to pack and ship zines
should live near manufacturers
Overall, here are the basics you should know about a zine before applying for it. Although some this information is not important when buying zines, look for this information anyway. If this information is not available by preorders it reflects badly on the mods.Mod Information
Social Media links - Do not apply to anything without this information
Past ExperienceThings to know before applying as a contributor
General zine information: Theme, Schedule, Number of Contributors, Zine Rating, Compensation
Application RequirementsThings to know before preordering
Where are the proceeds going? - If its a charity zine, what is the charity?
Getting Ready to Apply
This section is going to revolve around applying as a contributor.This can be broken up into two parts 1. What do I need to know before applying and 2. How to make a portfolio.
What to know before applying?
Read the FAQ. Every zine is not the same, often time contributors are disappointed because of this expectation.What is a guest contributor?
A guest is someone who was invited into the zine, thus skipping the application process.What is a pinch contributor?
A pinch is someone who can come into the zine in the middle of the creation period and cover for a contributor who had to drop out.Compensation - what you get for the time you put into the zine.
Some zines promise a free printed version of the zine, while some only promise a digital copy and a physical copy ONLY if the preorder sales permits.Deliverables what you're submitting to the zine.
Often times it's one illustration or a fic.
Tip if you are an artist applying to a print zine, make sure you have resources to create art at 300dpi in CMYK. Not all art programs support CMYK.Schedule
Check the schedule and make sure it work for you. Contributors are expected to follow the schedule and meet all the checkins. It is good contributor etiquette to communicate with the mods if you need an extension.
Note while checkins can be flexible, you do not want to be asking for an extension on the final due date.Contributor Expectations
Most zines expect all contributors to use Discord and follow the schedule and complete their work.Portfolio Expectations (Check the FAQ)
Most zines will list their expectations in the FAQ. How many pieces of work, a word count, etc. Not following these expectations usually reflects poorly on applicants since it shows an inability to follow directions.
See: Tips on making your portfolio for more Zine Etiquette
As a contributor, you are not allowed to share your work until the mods allow you to. Most zines do not allow you to share wips, and only allow you to release your finished pieces after preorders/leftover orders have been shipped out. Some mods will also allow you to sell your own work after the zine is concluded — but please check with your moderators to be sure.
Sharing your work early can affect zine sales negatively.
TIP Do not use the tumblr ask box or curiouscat to ask the mods questions you have as a contributor. Mods will typically NOT answer these questions. Instead, use the designated channel in the discord or DM a mod.Be vigilant until the end
DO NOT check out of a zine after submitting your final piece. Stay up to date with the zine until the project has concluded completely. There are zine previews to look at, and often times a compensation form. Zines may also offer the opportunity to buy extra items at a production price.
Tips on making your portfolio
Your portfolio is important as this might be the first look at your workKeep your portfolio SFW
Unless the zine you're applying to is explicitly NSFW, it is in good practice to keep your portfolio SFW. Check the FAQ and application guidelines to see if the zine will allow NSFW content. If they do not specify, and you wish to share NSFW content, send them an ask.
Some moderators may not be comfortable with NSFW content and not all of them may be of age to view explicit content.Curate your portfolio - only showcase what you believe is your best work to make the best impression. You do not want to be remembered by your weakest piece.
Tip Try to include at least one piece from the fandom the zine is in. Especially if you're a writer, it's hard to read about characters you do not know.What should go into your portfolio?
Look at the application requirements and expectations. A lot of zines have them. But here are some general tips:
Artists: Most zines look for 6-10 examples of completed work that showcase an understanding of anatomy, composition, lighting, color, perspective. Include pieces with backgrounds that set a scene!
Writers: Most zines look for 3 examples of work between 2-4k. Unlike art, reading a fic is more time-intensive so try to keep within their word count.
TIP "One shots" are better than excerpts, as you will need to write a short fic for the zine.What platform to use:
The goal is to easily show the bulk of your work in 2 seconds. You do not want them to dig for your art.
Portfolio websites Carrd, Behance, Wix, Squarespace, ArtStation.
File Sharing Websites Google Drive, Dropbox, sta.sh
Tip Try not to use websites like Twitter/Tumblr which can mix your art with other content, or require viewers to scroll a lot.
Tip Try not to hide your work within multiple folders that require viewers to search for your work.Writers
Pay attention to your formatting as well. If your fic is terribly formatted, it is distracting. Pay attention to your margins, the space between your paragraphs, and your font size.
File Sharing Websites Google Drive, Dropbox, sta.sh
Writing Websites Archive of our own.
Tip Try staying away from writing websites like Wattpad which is littered with ads or fanfiction.net which is banned in some countries.
Tip Try not to submit fanfiction from genres outside of the fandom to the zine you're applying to. Often time fanfiction relies on the reader already knowing the characters—and the moderators may not be familiar with the fandom you chose.Remember to check your Google Links
Check the settings on your google links to "anyone with the link can view". Some mods will skip your application if they can not view your portfolio.
Looking for something else?
Try one of these resources outGuides on how to run a zine
zine there, done that
how to organize a zine 101 by inky-thoughts
how to make a fanzine
How to run a zine by artofjyangGeneral Zine Knowledge
Zine FAQ by gloomyhomeTips on how to have the best zine experience
Zine Red Flags by bnhafandomevents