The Realties of Publishing A Fanzine

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It always amazes me when fans think publishing a fanzine is easy work.  I wish.  Despite what many think, it really can be a full time job if you let it.  Publishing a zine is a job that you have to juggle with other committments like friends, family, work and other projects that one might be involved in.  There are times where you have to specifically set aside time to spend on the zine. It can be quite easy not to work on it, but when you’ve made a committment to publish a fanzine, you try and devote as much of your free time to working on the current issue at hand.  It can be a tough job juggling all these priorities but somehow each issue does get put together and published.

Each issue begins as a germ of an idea.  And then there’s a bundle of questions that are commonly asked.  What sort of material do you want to include?  Will there be artwork?  Are there any interviews, or specially commissioned featured articles?  Do you need reviews?  Who’s available to write material and who isn’t.  How many pages do you have to fill?  Who can design your cover for that issue?  Do you have any readers letters to publish?  Will this issue feature fiction and/or another installment of your comic?  All sorts of things you ask yourself.

Once you have some sort of idea what you want to include in this issue, you start soliciting articles from your team of writers.  Who’s good at writing themed articles?  Which of your columns will be featured this issue?  Which of your reviewers have purchased the latest Doctor Who merchandise so it can be reviewed?

Email’s go out asking for material.  Contribution deadlines are set.  Your writers get busy penning the material you need.

Next you ask yourself if you have time to pen something for that issue.  Yes. No.  Maybe.  It all depends on how much free time you have and if you can slot it in with everything else you have to do.

A few weeks past and the articles you’ve asked your writers to write start coming in.  Each one of these have to be read over and edited for spelling, grammar, punctuation, making sure what the writer has written makes sense.  Is it a good article?  Will the readers like?  Do you need to trim it down because its 500 words too long?

Then the merchandise reviews come in.  These need to be edited.

Often more emails have to go out because your short of material, or you need some artwork to go with that special feature.

A few more weeks go by, dozens of emails have been bouncing back and forth across the internet highways.  Your editing is done and now comes the fun part.  Its time to layout that particular issue.  What pictures need to be found to go with that interview?  Are there any recent pictures of your celebrity guest interview that you can use with that interview?  What sort of title fonts do you want to use.  How many columns,  What size of fonts.  How many pages can you allot to that interview?  Five, six?  Oh no!  Only three.

Adverts have to be arranged and set up.  A rough draft is printed of the issue.  Is there any space still left open in the issue?  Does any of the layout look weird?  No?  Yes?

Now its time to get that cover designed.  Which of your artists are free to create the cover for you?  How long do you have before you need that cover back before the issue is sent to the printers?  Ah great.  Everyone’s busy with other projects, but Fred can squeeze you in between other committments.

A few days later you get that cover from Fred.  You print out anohter draft copy, do a final check over everything and if everything’s a-okay, then the issue can be sent to the printers via FTP upload.  You zip the issue and then upload it to the printers and they do they magic.

Two days later the issue is couried to you.  Voila.  There you have the latest issue.  All hot off the presses and shiny and new.  Ah but you’re job’s not done yet.  You’ve still got to print up the mailing labels, put those on envelopes, stuff those envelopes with copies of the zine, check to include subscription renewal notices if there are any subs up for renewal, stuff those in the envelope, seal the envelopes and then finally, take dozens and dozens of copies to the local post office to be mailed out.

You buy the stamps, stick them on the envelopes and then give them all back to the lady at the postal counter.  Finally after two to three months of work your job is done.  Another issue of Whotopia has been published and sent out to its readers.  Ah but not quite.  In another two or three weeks, it begins all again on the next issue.

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