I did my usual thing last week, offering to help anyone who wanted to do a fanzine, and something incredible happened: someone was interested! I doubt if anything will come of it but it got me thinking - as a condensed one page, dot point summary, what would my advise be to someone who was interested in creating a fanzine? I thought I'd use the old TrekUnited forum as my 'sandpit' to get some ideas together before blogging it.
POST TO BE UPDATED AS I'M GOING ALONG comments welcome
A fanzine is a fan produced publication in exactly the same way that a fan film is a fan produced film; whilst it is non-commercial because of the copyrighted material it contains, it can still aspire to emulate the work of the professionals we are fans of. The degree of professionalism you put into your work is up to you but a little knowledge can go a long way to making the project as efficient, enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. These are my scratch notes on the processes and pitfalls that I have encountered over the years. I'll format in the general project management style of planning, preparation, delivery and review.
First of all you need to make a few decisions about what you want to do which will determine what you need to do and how you are going to go about it.
- What is your goal, your scope, who is your audience, what do you want to achieve?
- To achieve this goal, what delivery media do you want to use? With the sophistication of digital technology the options have opened up from Hard copy to electronic files ranging from text file, html and pdf to different formats of eBook. Which are comfortable with? Do you want to break new ground?
The bad news is that fanzines cannot compete with social media for timeliness of news items and so don't do well as newsletters. Your 'news' will already be known to your readers and it will be more history than current affairs.
If you really want to do something that is news-related, consider a blog instead
Alternatively try doing it as an eZine, which is actually just a glorified email that is usually made using proprietary software.
With the change from hard copy fanzines mailed through the post to the internet age, Trekzines gained a specific niche in fandom, they are *not* news-related. They started off as a mixture of fan fiction, Treknology and commentary and the few that are left are really just fan-made short story anthologies. Checkout my article on the very first Trekzine "Spockanalia" on p.6 of Spock's Katra.
What type of content do you want and where and from whom can you can get contributions?
- What is your schedule, do you have a deadline, if this is going to be a periodical, what frequency (if any) do you want to set for it?
- Build your base of operations
- Production Group Forum - A private location that you can use to discuss the project with your contributors. I've usually used Google Groups or private Facebook pages but a closed forum here would work as well.
- Delivery page - A public location where you can post the project and the supporting material. I've used Blogger pages as permanent home pages because it is free and stable but you can mirror your delivery pages across as many publishing platforms as you see fit, each one opening up your publication to a new audience: Issuu, Scribd, deviantART, Facebook...
- Pitch for contributions. From your planning, put together a pitch to get people interested in contributing to your project,for example HERE.
- The first part should be similar to a treatment in film parlance, basically it is a promotional overview to capture the interest of contributors
- The second part should give people details of what you are looking for, such as short stories, poems or artwork, what word length, age suitability, deadlines for contributions, etc
- Support this with details of how they should format their work, the criteria for editing, file formats, etc. We made up a standard submissions guide for TrekUnited that we used for most publications
- Release announcement - When you are confident you are one week out from release, and that means everything is in the can, announce when and how you are going to release.
- What was the reception like, did you get any constructive criticism,
- Look at each step in the process and ask yourself: how did that work? Should I change it, maybe try something different or something extra?