Zine Making a Mini Documentary

Zine-making is as easy or elaborate as you make it. Start with the supplies—for a basic zine, all you’ll need is a pen, paper, glue and a pair of scissors. From there, the possibilities are endless. Honesty, self-expression and personal satisfaction are the only core values of zine-production according to the “Cut & Paste” mini-documentary.

Quoted from: Unte Reader – How to Make your own Zine

Sell Your Writing on Etsy

Self publishing lets writers choose what they want to publish and… the format they will use. Most often the format is digital now. But… consider going back to print. You can print publish your own content without a big name publisher, or a literary agent. Self publish your own zine and distribute it online through Etsy (or other online stores like it).

I was surprised at how many zines are being distributed through Etsy, in particular. Most are sent as do-it-yourself publications, on paper and mailed out to buyers. However, there is the option of selling a digital copy which people buy and then print themselves. There are pluses and minuses for both. A digital copy is easier to distribute, no mail service involved. But, the print copy gives the writer options. A print publication can be mailed out with extras. I’ve seen publishers make their own stickers and buttons. You could also create calendars for yearly subscribers. There are a lot of extras you could do with your own print publication.

It’s a new (retro) way of self publishing.

teamzineLink: Team Zine – Etsy Teams

Write your own Christmas Newsletter

ascii art angelI admit I don’t write and send a Christmas newsletter every year. Often I have it started, get it written, find the art to put inside and then I don’t get it mailed in time. Or, I get stalled out somewhere along the way. So, the best I do is send Christmas cards and try not to feel bad about not getting the newsletter finished and mailed out in time. But, the years I did work everything out and send the Christmas newsletter (inside the standard, yet cheerful, Christmas cards) were good years and I had the feeling of a job well done and having done a good deed.

Who to Send the Newsletter To

The first people I send a newsletter to are those who are a bit isolated among family and friends. Elderly and singles can feel disconnected from friends and family at this time of year. I think it’s important to make them feel included. If you want them to come for Christmas dinner or meet for coffee over the holidays, add a personal invitation to the newsletter.

If you want a newsletter for people who don’t really have a personal connection to you (like business connections or people you know online) send an edited down version, with less personal information about you and your comings and goings.

Consider the people you are sending the newsletter to and decide how much you really want them to know. Why not boast a bit if things are going well? If you don’t go too far, stick to the facts, the people who know you should feel happy for you. Encourage people to write back about their own great moments and events so you can add them to the newsletter for next year.

Never write a pity letter. The holiday season is about good cheer. Find yours before you start to write. The only people you might want to send a whiny letter to are your parents, maybe.

How to Create the Newsletter

Creating a holiday newsletter is fun. It’s a chance to find my Christmas spirit early. I look for holiday images and think up something to write about whatever we are doing for the holidays. Sometimes I find great seasonal quotes too.

In a non-digital way, I like to make the newsletter in the retro zine publishing way: glue, clippings from magazines and I hand write at least some part of them. It’s too much to write them all by hand, but you can stash in a few sentences or at least hand write the salutations for each one.

Add a recent photo of yourself and family. Take a photo in the middle of summer with everyone wearing antlers if you plan ahead that far. Pick something you do, like a sport or a hobby and make that the focus of the photo. There’s no reason the photo(s) need to be seasonal or holiday photos. Make a cake and decorate it for Christmas, get everyone’s face around the cake and use that as a holiday photo. Take pictures of your family (or yourself) making paper snowflakes, snow angels outside or pulling the Christmas decorations out of storage. You don’t need “deer in the headlights” posed photos.

How to Write the Newsletter

If you tend to babble once you put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) read it over the next day, or the next week. Decide if you really want to tell EVERYONE that much about yourself, your plans and what you’ve been doing. Consider the person you least wnat to communicate with… do you really want them to have all that information?

If you can’t think of anything to say, recruit help. As your direct family (husband, kids, parents, siblings) what they have planned for Christmas and include that. Or, interview yourself. Write out a set of impersonal sort of questions and then answer them. Or, include more photos and less text, if you really can’t write about yourself. Add captions or some explanation to go with the photos. Let people know what they are seeing.

Three paragraphs of text should be plenty. Stick to one side of a full sheet of paper, add images and illustrations. If you have kids they can decorate the back of the newsletter with their own drawings. But a newsletter doesn’t need to be continued on the next page, one page with about 200 words is just fine. You may add personal notes to individuals if you have the time and interest. Just make sure you get those sent in the right envelopes.

How to Mail the Newsletter

Sending the newsletter via email is the fact that it’s impersonal and defeats the purpose of connecting with people and making them feel valued and important. There is a very different feeling to having a real newsletter made with pictures glued to it, hand written (versus typed) and opening an email file to see what someone made with their computer. It lacks the personal touch. Email never has been great when it comes to sharing emotion, feeling and atmosphere.

Weight and packaging. If you plan to mail it out you can’t create a newsletter which won’t easily slip into the envelope or cost too much to mail out. Think light if you want to add extras. Also, don’t add anything which could poke a hole through the envelope. Light and flat.

Zine Making

Have you ever put together a zine? Do you even know what a zine is?

A zine should be creative with art too. Maybe some fiction or cartoon drawings. Personal essays and rants and artistic commentary all belong in a wide variety of zines I have seen and admired.

If you were going to take on the experiment of publishing your own zine, what would you make it? Once you pull together a plan think of a great name for the zine.

You may never actually put together a zine but you could take an hour to imagine yourself as a trendy, arty, underground or indie publisher of a zine.

The Great Divide

I’ve been reading websites and blogs online for several years, especially blogs and sites created for writers. I couldn’t even try to look back and count how many I have read, how many I still follow or how many I find new. The numbers don’t really matter. Overall I have noticed one thing divides them all, one thing makes them have or have not. Real experience, really being published (online doing it yourself or being published with an online network just isn’t the same, it doesn’t give the same challenges).

Writers who have been published just know more, have that extra experience with the reality of writing. They have set goals, met them and moved on to new goals. Writers who have only been published online have a softer market, it’s easier to break into online writing when you can even set up your own publication and do it all yourself. Writing online, the main challenge is to find someone to read what you write. Writing in print the main challenge is to actually get written in print. To get the work finished, to get it written well by stricter standards than you will find online and to get it in print/ published. Then, you start to work on getting readers. It’s a longer haul and you don’t have the cushion of being online and being your own boss more or less.

So, this is my goal for 2012. I want to be published in print. Not a zine, I’ve done that. Not a magazine either. Although I have not done that I’m not as interested in magazine writing as a goal. I know I can write that type of content. I’ve been writing it for years online. I want more. I want to push myself, challenge myself to write a book and get it published. I’m not aiming too far over my own head. Just enough that I will be pleased with myself in the end and yet I don’t feel I’m setting myself up for a fall right from the start.

Wish me luck on crossing the great divide.

For International Zine Month

I made a zine, once. I didn’t distribute it. So I’m the only one who knows about it. But, the process was fun. Before I had a computer I hand wrote the contents, doodled and cut and pasted the rest. Then put my pages together with a cover. It was about the paranormal and the unexplained. I don’t have it now. Sometime during many moves from one town to another city, it disappeared. I’d do it again. It was a great way to be free with my creativity.

July is International Zine Month  (Facebook) – Set up a zine reading, a zine swap, a cut and paste party, a zine fest, or even a simple zine workshop at your local library or community center. Write a letter to every zine you read, leave your zine at random places around town like buses, bathrooms or universities. Order zines directly from the creator, make a shirt with iron on letters that says “ask me about zines”, make buttons with phrases like “zines saved my life” or “do you read zines”. Send out zine fliers with your mail or leave them around your town. Approach shops in your town about carrying zines, donate to zine libraries…..


24 Hour Zine Thing

WikiBooks: Zine Making

Zine Wiki

Love Letters to Irony

Nobody Cares About your Stupid Zine Podcast

We Make Zines


Broken Pencil


Zine World

Google Groups: alt.zines

Sticky Institute

Flickr: Art Zines

Flickr: Zinesters

Flickr: Illustrated Zines

Yahoo Groups: Zine Geeks

Independent Publishing Resource Center

Live Journal: Zinesters

Live Journal: Zine Scene

Zine Mobile

The Book of Zines

The Paper Trail Interview Series (On hiatus?)

Asking for Trouble

Zine Library

Toronto Zine Library

Zines for Lunch

Robert Street: Anchor Archive Zine Library

Arrow Archive

These Things That People Make

Zine Dream

Facebook: Fanzines

DIY Bookbinding

E-Zinez: The Handbook of Ezine Publishing

Guest Post: Creative Karma

From Bev Walton-Porter at her blog, Elemental Musings.

Creative Karma – Do You Have It?

In the writing life, there are certain intangibles you can’t explain to other writers until they’ve experienced it for themselves. One of those intangibles of the writing life is what I call creative karma. Simply put, creative karma means what you give out, you’ll get back. Giving support and encouragement to other writers will eventually return to you in kind. Publishing is a tough business for writers, so we need to stick together. Back-biting and unhealthy, cut-throat competition doesn’t help the writing community, it only hinders it. Eschewing negativity and using our energies together for the greater good is a win-win situation for everybody.

How can you increase your positive creative karma? Here are five ways to get started!

1. Celebrate others’ successes

Success and accomplishment is good for everyone. It also tends to rub off on others, too! Remember that being a writer isn’t about competing with others; it’s more about competing with yourself. Spread good cheer and encouragement by hailing others’ successes – like selling a first book or getting an agent – and remember that if you haven’t hit your stride yet or haven’t inked your first contract, it’s good to be gracious to others. When your time comes, you’ll find those same writing colleagues will be there to help congratulate and celebrate with you as well.

2. Teach what you know.

You won’t ever know everything about the writing business, but chances are you know something already. Even if you’ve only got a short amount of time under your belt, your trials and tribulations in the publishing industry can help others avoid the same pitfalls. Learned some dos and don’ts about query writing? Discovered a terrific critique group or message board? Found a way to be more productive during your writing day? This information – and more – can be valuable to writers who are just starting out in the craft. Write blog articles or share e-mails with your writing buddies about these things. It’s an easy way to give to others a gift of the knowledge you’ve gained thus far so they won’t make the same mistakes.

3. Share job opportunities.

One of the hardest things to learn as a writer of any kind is where to find writing opportunities or freelance gigs. Do a good deed every day by sharing newly discovered job leads and publishing guidelines with other writers – especially new ones. It may be tempting to keep the information to yourself, but remember that the more you give out, the more you’ll get.

4. Swap resources.

This is along the same lines as sharing job opportunities (above). Got a great lead on a new writers’ resource that’s chock-full of articles, how-to’s and tips? Forward the information to your writing buddies. Got a line on a new imprint for a publisher? Let them in on the tip and guidelines. Know of a new market database? Tell all your writer friends about it. Keep valuable information circulating and your writing network will stay vibrant, healthy and up-to-date!

5. Be a matchmaker.

Introduce the people you know to each other – writers, agents, editors, publishers, readers – so you can help them get in contact with others who may help them find the information they need to move forward on their respective paths to publication and writing success. Networking is a must when it comes to the publishing industry, so take note of your colleagues’ special qualities and play a combination of matchmaker/muse for them.

Keeping good creative karma flowing is one way to do unto others in your writing circle and in your profession. In the publishing business, no one should make a go of it alone – there are too many precarious potholes and dangerous detours to navigate. Offering a helping hand to others builds bridges that won’t be forgotten. In the end, make contact with others and share information you know will reap positive rewards not just for yourself, but for many others as well.

Bev Sninchak (writing as Bev Walton-Porter and Star Ferris) is a professional author and editor who has published hundreds of stories on a wide variety of subjects. She’s also written four books: “Sun Signs for Writers,” “Mending Fences,” “Hidden Fire” and “The Complete Writer: A Guide to Tapping Your Full Potential,” co-authored with three other writers. She has edited and published the award-winning e-zine for writers, Scribe & Quill, for the past 13 years. She is a member of The Authors Guild and is represented by the Meredith Bernstein Literary Agency in NYC and MPL Creative Services of Springfield, MO.

Please visit her websites at: http://www.bevwaltonporter.com and http://editrix.homestead.com

Article Directories for Your Own Writing?

I’ve been working on my web directory, for links. Today I wandered into a WordPress plugin which lets you create an article directory. Not sure yet if it is part of your blog, a separate page, or a blog on it’s own. Perhaps it could be either way as both would make sense depending on your purpose in creating the article directory.

I’m not interested in becoming a mutated zine editor and being publishing articles by others again. I did that, formatting them was the most niggling and annoying part. However, that is in my past. I did start to wonder about an article directory for my own articles.

First, there is debate about how well tags work in directing anyone to your articles, past blog posts. Does anyone click on them? Do they pull up your best work? (Not likely in that case as they pull up the most recent first, not the best).

Second, if you want a collection of clips online isn’t an article directory a lovely, polished way to set that up? Rather than give links to several articles you can send the link to the directory of your best articles. One link, one click. If you were an editor or employer wouldn’t one link look nice? Of course, you would add an explanation about the directory so no one would think you just had one article to send as your sample of work.

Third, can you really pass up a new project? Something unusual and unique and completely self centred. Who doesn’t need a new self-obsession every now and then?

Hand Drawn Web Design

I made this list for myself a few weeks ago. I love the hand drawn element added to web designs/ site templates. I was doing some myself, posting drawings I had done to my personal blog. I would like to get back to that.

Anyway, here for your viewing pleasure… my list of resources for creating your own hand drawn web template or for adding elements of the hand drawn to what you already have. Best wishes!

Flickr: Hand Written Blogs – Not just the template but the whole blog.


We are Not Freelancers has a video tutorial: Technique for creating a hand drawn website.

Talk Mania created a hand drawn template and has a guide to what they did to get there.

Web Designer Wall also shows their process in making the current hand drawn template.

Go Media Zine shows how to turn a hand drawn sketch into a vector illustration.

Resources: (Most are geared to using PhotoShop).

Webitect has links to resources and a few tips for designing.

1st Web Designer has resources for using PhotoShop as well as fonts anyone can use.

My Ink Blog has examples of templates and resources for making your own.

Design M.ag has template examples and resources.

Design Reviver has doodling and other resources for making hand drawn templates.

Snap 2 Objects has sketches, doodles and other hand drawn elements.

Hongkiat has 40 hand drawn fonts.


Smashing Magazine writes about the trend to hand drawn websites and shows their top picks.

Hongkiat has 50 hand drawn template designs picked out as favourites.

Outlaw Design Blog showcases 30+ hand drawn websites.

Blog Spoon Graphics has 50 Inspiring Illustrations in Web Design.

Create Who You Are Blog has a few more designs reviewed.

Offline Promotions

Have you thought about using sources off the Internet to promote your site?  This idea has been on my mind for awhile. I often think we can only get so far in using online promotions. People online are getting ad blind from seeing ads on every site, every day. There aren’t even many people left protesting the amount of commercials online, it’s become a lost cause. If you think about it, how much time and resources are you pouring into online ads which you may get slim to none results from?

How about tackle the traditional marketing methods, offline? Take on a whole new slant for your site, promote it in a print newsletter, write up business cards for your site and pass those around, write a column for your local newspaper and get your link in your writing credits. Think about who you want to reach, what are they interested in and where would they notice your promotion. Plan your own ad campaign.

Ben Barden had the idea to write about offline promotions about the same time I did. He made a good list of places and methods to get you started.

The first places I have been looking at are fairly low brow, simple and cheap. There are all sorts of small publications for local markets in your area. Yes, it is limited in numbers but people will be interested in what another local is doing. So you already have a start. Create something to be a small ad and phone publications to see what it costs to run an ad in at least one issue. If you have no clue where to find a local publication just check out the exit area of local stores, look where you shop!

Another interesting and cheap source are zines. Maybe you have never heard of these off beat publications traditionally photocopied and mailed out to readers. You can have a zine publisher in your own town and not even know it. Try getting a copy of Broken Pencil, a great source for indie/ zine publishers.