Jerod Pore's FAQGeneral information about zines, and alt.zines
Updated 13 November, 1995.
This file is Shareright 1995; you may (and please do) copy, reproduce, replicate and distribute this information however, whereever and in whatever format, and as often as you wish, as long as this sentence is included.
Zine, F5 and alt.zine info mostly by Jerod Pore - email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Alex Swain - email@example.com - for ezine info.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
ZINES - THE PAPER KIND
What are zines?
Zines are small press publications with a press run of 15 - 2,500. They often deal with obscure or controversial subjects, or they're about the life of the publisher, or they're about the latest underground muzak sensation. A zine is not defined by its topic so much as its funkiness, its personality and its lack of pretention. It's easier to define what a zine is *not*. They aren't slick, they aren't professional (although some of the best publisher *do* pay a lot of attention to detail and presentation) and they don't make a profit.
Between zines and magazines there is a gray area that doesn't have a catchy name like "zine". These are publications like _Factsheet Five_, _ANSWER Me!_, _Gray Areas_, _Strange_ and others that have circulations over 2,500 (or even over 10,000!) and slick, color covers, and sometimes make a profit. Some of these we write about in F5, if they send us copies and deal with stuff not found in mainstream publications. Right now we call them "Independently produced magazines" or "notquiteazines".
Then there are the ezines, where circulation is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate. Like the paper-based zines, we call them zines if they have passion and quirkiness and personality and aren't out to make a profit. You know'em when you see'em. _Hot Wired_ is an online *magazine*, and not a zine, like _Geek Girl_ or _Web Runner_.
Of course, before this ever-so-nifty computer revolution, zines came in a few other formats. People still produce audiotape zines. There is the occassional videotape zine. Every once in awhile we see a bagazine (notes and stuff sent in a baggie). One person sent in a roll of toilet paper, with screeds handwritten on each sheet.
How does one find out about zines?
OK, this is a patently biased opinion, as I'm intimitely involved with these fine publications, but here it goes... The best place to start is with _Factsheet Five_ or _Factsheet Five - Electric._ We review 1,000 - 1,500 zines every three months (more or less). We provide ordering information, size, quality of reproduction, contents and what we think about a zine. Once you get a few zines that sound interesting, you'll notice other zines referred to. Pretty soon you'll have more reading material then you know what to do with.
Other sources for zines are _MaximumRockNRoll_ and _Flipside_, _Gray Areas_, _Bypass_, _Indy_, _Small Press Review_ and _Taproot_.
Those of you interested in electronic zines should get John Labovitz's e-zine-list, with over 600 entries in it as of this writting.
See the _Factsheet Five_ FAQ for answers to questions about _F5_.
How does one produce a zine?
It's really quite simple. Put your thoughts on paper using words and/or pictures (if you find anything else that translates well onto paper, let us know). Photocopy 15 to 50 copies (start small!). Figure out how much money you can afford to lose so you can set your price (most zines are available for trade, stamps, one to five dollars, or free). Send one to us at _Factsheet Five_. Send copies to other zines that you've liked. Make sure the price, your address and other information (do you take trades? are you actively seeking submissions?) is either attached on a separate sheet or easily found in your zine.
You *don't* need a computer. If you have access to one (n.b. - ownership doesn't matter, access does), fine, but it's really not necessary. If your handwriting is clear enough, you don't even need a typewriter, and this is all presuming you're not going to communicate primarily in pictures. You don't need to track subscriptions. People send their money or SASE or zine in trade and you send yours. Subscriptions are nice, but are not required.
You don't need an ISSN or other official designations, although information on that is provided in this document if you want it.
Once you start getting into the territory of Independently Produced Magazines (i.e. you've gone to offset printing, you have subscriptions, you can't handle mailing them all out, etc. etc.) you're pretty much on your own for now. Maybe later this document will address those issues. There are distributors for zines and notquiteazines.
Producing an ezine is handled in the ezine FAQ.
How do I get people to contribute to my zine?
Produce a couple of issues, make it known that you want contributions. If you need contributions just to get started, why are you doing a zine?
How much money will I make doing a zine?
You'll be lucky if you break even. Don't expect to make a profit. Hell, you'll be lucky if you don't lose more money than you can afford to lose.
However, before you're totally discouraged, a few zines have gone on to being profit-making, rent-paying publications. Don't expect it, but it can happen. Profit, though, should not be the motivating factor in producing a zine.
Then why do people make zines?
Mike put together an entire book on that subject. There are as many reasons as there are publishers.
How does one get the zines?
Zines are showing up in malls. Really. Tower Books and Tower Records carry a lot of zines. Borders Books has zines. Indie record shops are found in most cities, and most of them carry zines.
But snailmail is still where most of the zine action takes place. When ordering zines, cash is the best medium of exchange. Forget what your mother told you about evil thieves stealing one dollar bills out of mail boxes. If you absolutely must send a check or money order (and a money order is preferred over a check), then make it out to the name in the address portion of the reviews. However, many people publish zines under pseudonyms. Unless available only for a ridiculous amount of money, just send cash.
Many zines, especially personal zines, science fiction fanzines and anarchist zines are available for what is quaintly known as "The Usual." "The Usual" is your zine or tape or record or calendar in trade, or a well-written Letter of Comment on the subject of the zine, or $2 - $3. Be warned about a few things. There are no guarantees. Checks are likely to be thrown away. Sending a check to a publisher that has specified cash only could result in your name being broadcast to thousands of people around the world on alt.zines under the title "Public Ridicule of the Stupid".
Some zine names with especially offensive titles have often had their mail thrown away by self-righteous born- again postal workers, I kid you not! If the name of the zine is apt to offend your third-grade teacher, don't put it on the envelope. Some zines published in rather provincial parts of the world won't get their mail if the publisher's name isn't on the envelope, so whatever the name is in address, that's the name that should go on the envelope. We can work only with what information is provided to us. We'll post any special requirements that are conveyed to us. If a zine is free, you may want to help out with some stamps. Free often translates as "The Usual," and many anarchists will accept food stamps.
People with $40 subscriptions to _Factsheet Five_ (see below) can send $3.00 for two pounds of random zines. Other publishers offer similar deals. There have been a couple zine exchange networks, but the coordinator of the most reliable one has moved, and may or may not start it up again.
When did zines start?
That depends on your definition of zines. The modern zine started in the 1930s, with the advent of relatively cheap mimeograph technology and the rise of Science Fiction pulp magazines. Much of the format, language and style of those zines is still alive today in zines of a variety of subjects. There were Davey Crockett fanzines in the 1830s, and, if one is generous with one's definitions, the revolutionary pamphlets of the 1760s and 1770s had zine-like qualities. The family newsletter - the origin of the personal zine - started in the 1890s.
So zines have been with us for at least 60 years, and maybe even 200. And, no, they didn't start with punkrock. They didn't start just because CNN and _Time_ and _USA Today_ did crappy, bogus stories on them.
How many zines are there?
Our estimates have held at 40 to 50 thousand. This number represents the number of *available* zines. If a zine is no longer actively publishing, but back issues are available from the publisher or a distributor, we consider it as available. Ezines that have been archived at an ftp or gopher site have stuck around for years.
Our estimate is based on the approximately 8,000 titles in the _Factsheet Five_ database. Many zines review other zines, and most of those reviews are of zines we haven't seen. We took some samplings and found an average of 10 zines unknown to us in any given listing/reviews of zines. With about half the zines regularly reviewing many other zines that gave us the 40 to 50 thousand figure.
What happened to _Sassy_?
Although beloved by many zine producers, _Sassy_ isn't a zine. Ask over at rec.mag
ISSN, COPYRIGHT, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS AND MORE "CONVENTIONAL" PUBLICATION LISTINGS
n.b. I have _Poppin' Zits!_ listed in a couple of these. I haven't received any orders, just junk mail and requests for freebies.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Nigel Allen)
If you haven't already done so, you should write to each of the
following directories and ask them to add a listing for your
magazine. All of them provide free listings,
and most can be consulted at major public or academic libraries.
An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an 8-digit code
which identifies a serial publication, that is, a publication
issued in successive parts which have a common title and intended
to be continued indefinitely. If you would like to receive an
ISSN for each of your periodicals, contact:
If you would like information on registering the copyright on your periodicals, write to:
If you don't want to bother registering the copyright on
your publication, you should send two copies of each issue to:
so that it can be properly catalogued and preserved. I don't work for the Library of Congress, but I know that it appreciates receiving complimentary copies from publishers. People outside the United States should contact their country's national library, not the Library of Congress, to arrange for ISSN and legal deposit.
How do I copyright my zine?
As soon as you type it up, it's automagically copyrighted. Now, the more you do, the stronger your protections are. If you're really concerned that somebody is going to steal your words or pictures you should: Include the magic phrase "All contents Copyright (C) 1995 by Vic Zinemaker" with the appropriate date and names. If people have contributed stuff they should retain the copyright, unless other arangements have been made. Send copies to the Library of Congress, or whatever bastion of authority is appropriate for the nation-state you happen to live in.
Mail a copy of the zine to yourself, via registered mail. Keep the envelope sealed.
Get the copyright info from the Library of Congress. Do what it says. Have cash available.
Be prepared to deal with lawyers. If someone violates your copyright, and you feel that some sort of redress is owed you, then it's up to you to sue them. If your work is appropriated by someone who makes a zine don't expect to get much.
Are there alternatives to Copyright?
Yup. Shareright, like this document, where anyone can copy it as long as they allow anyone else to copy it from them. Copyleft and anti-copyright mean something else, and I hope someone can tell me exactly what they mean so I can tell all y'all.
Should I worry about someone suing me for using their ad in my collage?
Only if you used a Disney[tm] character. So far, the evil, vile Disney[tm] corporation is the only copyright holder that I know of to sue a zine for image appropriation (although see the bit on trademarks below).
If zines are copyrighted, how come there are four zines called _Crank_?
Because you can't copyright a title, you must trademark it. Trademarks are different, sorta. If you really must keep your title from being used as the title for a zine, the name of a song or a band or the latest slogan from Coca-Cola[tm] you must register it as a trademark. Helpful hint: national registration costs a bundle, California trademark costs under $100. Register your trademark in California. If someone absolutely had to use your title, this would force them to bypass 15% of the US population or rename it for one state.
Can I get in trouble for violating some vile corporations' trademarks?
Yes, yes, YES! It's trademark violation that has caused pain and suffering for zine publishers. _Better Homos and Gardens_ had to change their name, _Thorazine_ has mentioned trouble, but I haven't heard anything lately. After trademark violation, the only thing you have to worry about is the morality cops busting down your door and sending you to jail like Peter Sotos or Mike Diana.
What about ezines?
What about them? Actually, ezines are the largest growing segment of zines right now, and the ezine FAQ has been written to answer you questions about them. You can acquire the ezine FAQ from ftp.etext.org /pub/Zines/WhateverRamblings/publish.txt or gopher.locust.cic.net /Zines/WhateverRamblings/publish.txt They are being reviewed in _Factsheet Five_. Web and gopher based zines will be linked to in _Factsheet Five - Electric_. The F5-E webpage also has links to John's e-zine-list, and archives of over 1,000 ezines, ejournals and emagazines.
What is alt.zines all about?
Back in early 1992, when it looked like _Factsheet Five_ was going to die for good, I got the brilliant idea of an electronic version. Not wanting to keep this just on The WELL, I asked Ed Vielmetti how to go about creating an alt newsgroup. Fortunately, Ed just created the group himself from msen.com. So alt.zines is a place for zine producers and zine readers to discuss zines. It's a place for reviews of zines, announcements of new zines (but, please, quit whining for contributers - if you don't have any of your own ideas, don't produce a zine), tips on how to make zines, discussions of the culture of zines, news about zines (e.g. who is being censored and why), specific zines and related stuff.
Can I post my ezine to alt.zines?
No. Not that I'm the Usenet police and I can stop you or anything, but Alex Swain of the ezine FAQ has created a newsgroup for vanilla ASCII ezines called, appropriately enough, alt.ezines - for which we all expect him to write the FAQ and include it with his ezine FAQ. For uuencoded files, I finally figured out how to create a newsgroup and created alt.binaries.zines for the express purpose of having a newsgroup for uuencoded ezines, and ads in the form of .gifs and .jpegs for zinesters interested in swapping ads.
Are there related newsgroups?
Yup. alt.etext, rec.mag, alt.pulp (for those of you with more interest in the zines of the 1930s), all the newsgroups dealing with publishing, with the world wide web and gopher (for ezines), all the comics and comix newsgroups, and, of course, newsgroups that cover the same territory as particular zines. Someone just started alt.zines.samizdat - but all that has shown up there was one of ashton's Shub-Internet crossposts and a stupid advert. Some time ago own.zines.buddhism was created, and no articles have shown up there at all.
As mentioned above, alt.binaries zines is for the posting of uuencoded zine files. Please set your follow-up to lines to either alt.zines or alt.ezines, as applicable.
alt.ezines is all for ezines only - posting them, discussing them and all that.
This site is maintained by the Zine Syndicate.