You’ve decided that you want to make a zine. You know your topic, and your excited about it. But would it be even cooler with more people involved? Why, yes! Yes, it would!
Congratulations, you’ve decided to make a collaborative zine.
One of the first zines I ever made was a collaboration zine. Dear Anonymous is filled with letters (and a few poems) written by people from around the world. I feel both honoured and lucky that people trust me with their words and that they want to be a part of something.
Collaborations are a very strong, important part of the zine community. They can be a way to get to know other zine writers and makers as well as being a perfect way to start becoming a part of the zine community if you’re not ready to make a zine on your own just yet.
As I worked on putting together the PCOS zine today, it occurred to me that there are more than a few tips I wish I’d read before setting out to make my own collab zine. (A few that bear repeating for me…)
1. Decide how you’re going to credit contributors.
There are plenty of ways to give your contributors credit. In Dear Anonymous, the focus is on being anonymous, so I only credit whatever people sign off as.
You can also choose to create a contributor section where there is more room for contributors to introduce themselves like this one in Fat-Tastic 3:
Property Zine keeps the contributor information snuggled right in next to the work so you can instantly look up the person who created what you’re looking at/reading:
There are also probably heaps of ways to do it that are creative and fun. The point is to decide what how you want to do it because that will inform more decisions you make, like…
2. Figure out what details you want up front.
Now that you know how you’re going to contribute them, you’ll have a much better idea of how much info you want and what kind of info. If you want to do things Property Zine style, you might not want the longer bio you saw in Fat-Tastic. You’re certainly not limited to these styles. Having a contributor section doesn’t mean you can’t leave it at an Instagram handle and call it a day. The point is knowing what you need from the start so there’s no confusion or chasing for additional info later (she says, having just finished sending off emails chasing for information…).
The reason that this goes even before your call for submissions is because you can put some or all of this information on your call out. If you want a lot, then you probably don’t want to bog down your call for subs. But if you only want an Instagram handle, than plugging that in doesn’t take up much space at all.
3. Create a call for submissions – extra points for images.
This is purely my opinion but… Even if your image is mostly or completely filled up with a bunch of text, an image is still better than text. Why? Text requires copying and pasting. Images are so, so, so much easier (and quicker!) to share, and if there’s one thing you want for your call, it’s for it to be easy to share!
All you really need is your title (or focus, if you don’t yet have a title), a little bit about your zine, what you’re looking for (strictly poems, strictly comics, black and white, anything under the sun?), a deadline (if you have one), and an email address for people to send their work to. Take a look at the Call for Submissions category to see what you like/don’t like.
4. Keep all your info together!
This may be one place – like a folder you set up in your email box for zine-specific emails – or two places, one digital and one physical. I do the latter. I keep all correspondence and submissions in one zine-specific folder in my email. However, I also keep a physical envelope that contains the addressed envelopes (I send out physical contributor copies), as well as any handy dandy checklists to make sure I have everything I need from everyone.
For the PCOS zine I’m working on now, I have contributor name, title of their piece, mailing address, and a checklist for their preferred names, their bios, and whether I’ve already addressed an envelope for them.
5. When it comes to YOUR contributions, less is more.
Of course you’re contributing your time, effort, paper, ink, money, etc, but I’m talking about what you actually contribute as work to the zine.
Now this is a little bit of a sticky one. Who am I to say how much you can put in a zine you’re putting together? No one, really. For me, this is about balance. You want to be a part of the zine, yes (and yes, I think you should put in at least one piece of work), but I really think the spirit of a collaboration is to put yourself on similar or equal standing to the other contributors. It’s about balance and what feels right.
You wouldn’t put a dozen pieces into something, have one thing submitted from someone else, and then call it a collaboration. Yes, sometimes you have to put in a few things just to make sure you have the page count you need/are shooting for. There are plenty of reasons to submit more than one thing or put in more than an intro/outro. Use your intuition. If you’re still not sure, ask. 🙂