Ready for Takeoff?

This month launches the second year of Zine Scene. For those of you just aboard, let us take a moment to tell you what it's all about.
Author:
Publish date:

What the heck is a 'zine' anyway?" you may be asking. Well, in its simplest terms, a zine is a self-published magazine. But ask anyone who has any experience in zines what they're all about and the word "passion" is likely to come up: "A zine is a publication done for passion rather than profit," says Chip Rowe, Zine advisory board member and overseer of Zinebook.com; "Today's zines are an extension of the passions of their creators," says the editor of The Amateur Poetry Journal, Judy Gripton, also a zine board member. These definitions incorporate the central element that distinguishes the zine as a publishing medium.

The zine itself
The zine, in appearance can take on many forms. A print zine (on actual paper) can resemble anything from a chapbook to a brochure to a pamphlet to a newsletter. An e-zine (electronically based) can operate as a regularly updated Web site or as an e-mail newsletter.

In both mediums though, little rules apply. There may be a strong graphic element or none, an additional print or Web accompaniment or not, an open submissions policy or a writing staff of one, and the updates for each new issue may happen anywhere from weekly to annually. However, regardless of frequency, it's a universal characteristic of the zine that it is a periodical; it is created and concepted with the intention of continual publication.

The zinester
Now that you have a basic understanding of how zines operate, it is time to understand the driving force behind them—the zinester. "Zinester" is a catch-all term to describe creators of a zine whether they be electronic or print. A zinester is an individual who has such a strong desire to publish that they forgo financial gain for the love of creation.

Rowe puts it like this: "A zinester is an independent-minded person who is driven to create. They can't explain why they do it, but it's not a fad to them. They will always publish in some form or another."

Publishing is the passion for the zinester. But another passion seems to also arise, a passion (sometimes bordering on obsession) for the zine's subject or topic.

What they're about
At the Zine Scene, we have had the pleasure of receiving countless zines and e-zines sent by zinesters in hopes of review (WD features zine reviews every other month in this column). What is most surprising about all these publications is the variety and creativity that shows itself in the subject matter.

There are literary zines that focus on a particular genre of literature (horror, science fiction, fiction), but often times, zinesters will take this narrow field and hone in further (horror poetry only, science fiction involving UFOs) and dedicate the whole publication to that niche.

There are also zines that revolve around a love for a particular subject. We've seen zines on Polka, lighter collections, Star Trek and even zines themselves. The possibilities are endless, (but probably being published about somewhere by some zinester).

Limitations on subject matter, like most else with these publications, are set by the only rule that ultimately applies: your passion.

This article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Writer's Digest.

Amir

The “Secret Sauce” Necessary to Succeed at a 30-Day Writing Challenge

In this article, author and writing coach Nina Amir lays out her top tips to master your mindset and complete a 30-day writing challenge.

Kane2

Crashing Into New Worlds: Writing About the Unfamiliar

Award-winning crime author Stephanie Kane explains how she builds characters unlike herself and navigates their worlds to create vivid and realistic stories.

plot_twist_story_prompts_without_a_trace_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Without a Trace

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave without a trace.

WDVintage_10_29

Vintage WD: The Truth about True Crime

In this article from July 2000, true crime novelist and former New York Times correspondent Lisa Beth Pulitzer shares with us some key insights for breaking into the true crime genre.

new_agent_alert_barb_roose_books_such_literary_services_adult_christian_fiction_and_nonfiction

New Agent Alert: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Grinnell_10:28

Evoking Emotion in Fiction: Seven Pragmatic Ways to Make Readers Give a Damn

Evoking emotion on the page begins with the man or woman at the keyboard. Dustin Grinnell serves up seven straightforward tactics for writing tear-jerking stories that make your readers empathize with your characters.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 546

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a spooky poem.

Richard_Shadowlands

Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.