I N T R O
Hello and welcome to "I'm fond of spreadsheets"
Here's a lil intro to me, the writer of this guide
J Yang—illustrator, small business owner, and shrimp enthusiast. I've organized seven zines from start to finish in the role of Project Manager, along with my small business ventures. I graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Communications Design and currently work in children's books and education (which tends to be super useful for design & layout).
The zines I've done before can be found here.
Disclaimer: This is a guide for the mid-sized 30+ people art zines.
So you're thinking of making a zine!
Wonderful! I hope that with the information provided here, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether to run a zine, and the necessary responsibilities that come with it. I hope it goes well for you.
Pre-requisites Here's the starter pack of what you should expect
I'm gonna start off with A) If you're running a zine, you're probably the person in a school group project who has had to pick up all the pieces after everyone else let you down. It's the *clenches fist* responsibility
• Repeat after me: if you sell your zine for money, you are a SMALL BUSINESS and need to treat it as such!
This means 1. Look up how to file taxes as self-employed income
2. Customer service & professionalism are definitely things to strive for
3. It's a business, you need to deliver
4. Transparency is so important! People trust you more if they know what's up
• Be able to allot time for the project. Emailing back & forth takes more time than you'd initially expect! A full zine takes 60-120+ hours of organizing. This means you're putting in multitudes more hours than just contributors.
• Be financially secure enough, especially if you're handling the money.
It's responsible to make sure zine funds stay separate from your living funds!
[Highly suggested] Make sure you have several hundred saved to be able to send the contributors a copy of the book, just in case sales don't go well. It's YOUR project, your contributors are either doing this for free or for a not-guaranteed amount of money, this is the least you could do to thank them for their time.
• Having someone on the team who knows design can help so much.
• Better with friends! Even if you're planning on doing most of the work, it's good to have people as a sounding-board or to suggest very simple solutions to issues you've spent the last hour spinning circles around :) Also if it's your first zine, having 2 other friends in on this is v good.
• Online business knowledge is very useful. I'll explain things more in this guide.
If you decide to go ahead with making a group zine, please be in a space where you're able to manage a lot of people. Nobody's perfect; it's not possible to always say the right customer service thing, or be around to answer things 24/7, but just being there and showing that you care matters so much. It's also totally okay to save this guide for later, when your circumstances are more conducive to overseeing such a project!
You've survived the intro! Please head sideways to 2. Setup