Hand-making is a good option if you're making very few indeed, or if it's based on crafty stuff, or a series of one-off things. Otherwise, remember that you've got every right to combine hand-making techniques with other techniques, such as photocopying the whole zine then sewing a front cover (or whatever).
Photocopiers are a big thing in zine-making, whether it's subtle use of the photocopier at work (or so I've heard) or the photocopier in the library. Some photocopiers will even do your stapling for you, which is very kind.
Many photocopiers do not copy all the way to the edge of the page, and some have quirks about the way they photocopy different shades/colours, so it's a good idea to try a print-run out once or twice and see if you can get it looking good, before you dial in "500" and press Go. It's a good idea to get used to a specific photocopier's quirks and then stick with that one, to avoid giving yourself a new set of headaches.
If you have a computer and a printer at home then it can be easy to print things out yourself, especially if you're not doing many. But after a while it gets:
- Expensive. Printer ink is really quite expensive, and (especially if you have any pages with large amounts of black on them) you'll be using up printer ink faster than you can possibly imagine...
- Frustrating. This is particularly true if you're doing double-sided things but your printer doesn't do double-sided, because you need to do a lot of sitting there feeding printed sheets back into the printer in the correct order/orientation/etc, and it can go wrong quite a lot too. It can also go a bit wrong because the printed sheets might be a bit damp or crinkly, so the printer goes a bit wrong in feeding the paper back in. Then there's also the stuff about getting it all to print out so all the folds line up nicely.
Anyway. If you are using your own printer then here are some tips:
- Remember to make sure it'll fit on the page. Most printers don't print right to the edge of the paper, which means that either the edges of what you've designed will be chopped off, or it'll be printed out slightly smaller than maybe you expected. You might find you need to leave an empty border around your work so that nothing gets chopped off.
- Do a bit of experimenting then make a template. Draw some lines (or try and set appropriate borders) in your software, print them out, fiddle about and repeat until you've got it about right, and save that file. You can use this as a basis for your pages then delete/hide any guiding lines before you print the pages out. This webpage has a couple of examples of templates: http://www.footprinters.co.uk/layout.htm
- A quick rule of thumb: if your zine doesn't fit in the page, resize it (in the print preferences or whatever) to about 97%.
Getting them printed
If you're strongly into DIY or anarchist things you might not want to use a company to print the things for you, and that's fine. But if not:
If you're getting to the point where you're making a lot of copies (more than a few dozen) then it's probably cheaper and easier to get the zines printed on your behalf, and will get you more uniform results. Of course there are various limitations with this: the printing companies are not likely to be willing to print every fourth page using tracing paper, for example. But you could easily get a printing company to make the zines and then do some "post-processing" on the zines to add your preferred cross-stitch/hole-punch/felt-tip customizations, which is quite a nice way of combining interestingness with painless production.
Printing companies typically vary a lot when it comes to pricing, so make sure you ask around for different prices. They can also vary in helpfulness, and this can be quite important. Does the company look small and friendly? A small friendly company may be more inclined to spend time talking to you and making sure they get it right. Double points if the website gives the name, photo and direct phone number of the person who gives quotes.
Check: are they happy to do small print runs? Check that "small print run" means 50 rather than 50,000.
You don't particularly need to pick a nearby printers, because delivery is often included or inexpensive.
What info to tell the print shop
- What the finished zine will look like (e.g. 12-page A6 booklet)
- How many copies you want printed
- What weight of paper you want (e.g. 80gsm is normal printer paper, 120gsm is thick paper... ask them for advice if you're not sure)
- The color and shininess of the paper (e.g. white, glossy)
- What colors of ink you need (e.g. black, black and red, or full colour)
- If you want it delivered and how soon you need it done
- How you'll provide the original copy - either electronically (PDF, Word, jpg, by CD, email, etc) or 'camera ready' (on paper)