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How to Start a Zine
1. Get thinking: A zine can be about anything, which is sometimes the biggest challenge. Do you want a travelogue or a tour narrative? An apple pie review? A comic series? Maybe it’s a one shot or a serial. Maybe you just want to get on the horn about some stuff. Think about it.
2. Get some zines: There are lots of places around that sell zines—Book Thug Nation, Desert Island, Bluestockings, St. Mark’s Bookshop, the Brooklyn Zine Fest in April—and also, Google is your friend, and there’s a zine Wiki. Just poke around.
3. Get your content: Organization is key, especially if you’re collaborating. Mark a day on the calendar by which you’d like to have the zine finished, and work backwards—printing, layout, editing, soliciting submissions, etc. If it’s a solo thing, make time to generate work. In this town, time generally doesn’t make itself.
4. Get it together: There are layout examples and tutorials all over the web, from mini zines to huge, complicated fold-out sheets. Photocopying is the standard, but there are local printing presses if you want it in color (like CatPrint) or on newsprint (Linco). Talas on Morgan Ave has fancier bookbinding stuff. Oh, and get a saddle stapler.
5. Get it out there: You can sell them at many of the places I mentioned in #2, or through zine distributors and independent bookstores. If you don’t care about money, leave them where people wait: takeout joints, laundromats, cafes, bars, etc. When people are waiting, they will read pretty much anything in front of their faces.
Tommy Pico is the driving force behind birdsong, a queer-positive collective, small press, and zine that publishes art and writing. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn and is working on his first collection of poetry and prose as an inaugural fellow of queer art mentorship.