A Guide to Self-Editing a Little DIY Book

Photo: Katie, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Even if you’ve never heard of a fanzine, there’s a good chance you’ve probably had one in your hands at some point without even knowing it. These handmade booklets provide a way for people to share their art, writings, thoughts and provide a platform for underrepresented and marginalized voices. If you have something to say, why not use a zine to express yourself? Read on to learn more about the history of the zine and how you can make one yourself.

What is a fanzine?

Zines are self-published, non-commercial booklets that are usually reproduced using a photocopier. They provide a safe space for their creator to express themselves freely and share their art, words and thoughts with a chosen (and often niche) audience. Most fanzines are produced in batches of 1,000 or less, and many are produced in editions of less than 100.

A brief history of the zine

Before the Internet, zines allowed people to network, share ideas, and collaborate creatively. The first zines were created in the 1930s, when artists made their own science fiction fanzines, or “fan magazines”. During the Beat Generation of 1950s and 1960s, independent zines by independent authors who explore their perspectives on American culture and politics.


Photo: Philpp Messner via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Zines continued to be a medium of expression throughout the 1970s, when they allowed people to have a voice outside the mainstream media. Self-published magazines have helped shape the feminist movement, and in the 1980s, the punk scene saw an array of music fanzines and a cultural revolt against authority.

In the 90s, the riot movement grrrl (an underground feminist punk movement) used zines to reach out to women across the United States to start a “girl riot” against a society they believed to be sexist. The handcrafted aesthetic of the zines helped visualize the group’s “do it yourself” attitude.

The zine is still a very popular medium today which continues to have a rebellious charm. Many people around the world continue to create their own, individually designed publications that explore everything from art and music to poetry and politics. Read on to find out how you can make your own zine.

How to make a fanzine

How to make a fanzine

Photo: Ksenia Chernaya, via Pexels

There are no rules when it comes to make a fanzine. It can be done by hand – using paper and drawing materials – or it can be digitally designed and printed. You can even create a collage-style zine using images found in magazines. It all depends on what materials you feel comfortable with, as well as how you would like your zine to look. So grab your favorite tools and read on to learn the steps you’ll need to take to make your zine a reality.

1. Decide on the subject of your zine

The idea of ​​self-publishing can be daunting, but your zine doesn’t have to be the next bestselling novel. They are usually only about eight pages long, so the ideal content should be short and fun. Your zine could be about your own personal experiences, or it could tell someone else’s story. Here are some zine ideas to help you unleash your creativity:

  • A poetry fanzine
  • A photographic zine
  • A comic
  • A short story
  • A collection of essays
  • A little cookbook full of your own recipes
  • A booklet of cocktail ideas
  • An informative zine on your favorite subject
  • An illustrated glossary
  • A fanzine on your country of origin or your heritage
  • A fanzine on your favorite band
  • A collection of your favorite quotes
  • An instruction manual on how to do something

The options are endless! However, if you don’t like posting something solo, why not get together with some friends and brainstorm a zine idea you can. do in group?

2. What format will it have?

Zines can come in all kinds of formats, from accordion-bound zines and paperback booklets, to zines to fold-out posters, and online-only zines. For beginners, there is two simple formats which are super easy to make yourself using printing paper: an eight-page foldable mini zine and a standard A5 booklet.

Keep in mind, if you will create multiple zines of the same design, use a photocopier to scan and print multiples of the original work.

The Eight-Page Foldable Zine

orange and almond biscotti

This folding fanzine format uses a single sheet of A4 paper, folded into eight rectangles with a horizontal slit in the center. Each small rectangle represents a page of your zine. Remember that the pages will not be in order when they are laid out flat like a single sheet of paper. The first page will be at the bottom right and the last page will be a rectangle to the right. It might sound complicated, but for an easy visual explanation, check out the folding instructions below, along with a video that shows you how to do it.

Mini Zine Origami Sandwich

A5 booklet

An introduction to expressive lettering

Make a DIY booklet lets you decide how many pages your zine will have. You can make one by combining a bunch of A4 paper and folding it in half (so that the left and right sides are touching). You can also add a single page to the back of the stack of paper that serves as the front and back cover. It could be a colored page or a thicker piece of cardboard. For those who create a zine digitally, you can create your layout in Photoshop, InDesign, or whatever digital tool you feel comfortable with. Once you’re done, print your pages, order them, and fold them all together into a booklet. Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation.

If you are creating this style of zine, you might want to bind it to the back of the booklet. (Read on to find out how you can do this in the next section.)

Once you’ve decided on the format, now is the time to move on to the fun part. Fill in your blank pages with your own visuals and writing.

3. How do you want to tie it all together?

Binding your booklet is the last step in completing your zine. For a quick and easy solution, use a long-arm stapler to clip your pages vertically in the center of the booklet. Use two to three staples to secure your pages, and if you’re feeling creative, try using colors.

Stitch binding is another popular technique among zine makers, but it takes a bit longer. However, this process allows you to add a little more personality to your post. First, fold your zine in half to make a crease and drill three holes along the crease. Use sewing thread, embroidery floss, or whatever thread you want to thread through the holes with a single running or saddle stitch until the pages are secure. Watch the video below to learn how to create a saddle stitch.

Your zine is finished! Now is the time to share it with the world.

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