In the ten years I've been posting on this blog I've seen so very many magazines come and go. And very few that stick around for more than a couple of years. Back in 2011 I wrote a post about starting a new zine. What I said back then still applies so I thought I'd repost it. Yes, some things have changed as there are more paying markets and with Amazon you can get your zines on Kindle or in print. With the closing of Crime Syndicate, I'm sure that someone will step up and decide to start another zine, so here are a few tips:
I'm a huge fan of the online zines. They provide a place for beginning
writers to cut their teeth by learning how to submit, deal with editors,
and learn about rejection. And yes, with a few exceptions, they are
looked down upon by many of the professional writers out there because
they're not, for the most part, paying markets.
In the last few weeks I've found two new online markets, La
Criminophile and Icemedia, for crime fiction. The blogs were set up and
the calls for submissions issued, then bam, they were gone. No
explanations, just vanished.
I was really excited about La Criminophile because I really believed
that the people behind the zine had a great idea. Icemedia, I found a
couple of days ago but didn't mention. Why? Because the editor had
published one of her own stories as an example of what she was looking
for, but reading through the story I found several misspellings. If she
didn't care enough about her own work to edit it properly, how could she
It is so easy to set up an ezine. Get an idea, set up a blog, and
post a call for submissions. And this is the problem with many new
zines. There's no thought put into it before the subs do or don't come
rolling in. These are all things I look for when searching for new
markets, you can almost tell who's in it for the long run and who's just
starting up on a lark. And yeah, sometimes, they fool you.
I've been in on the beginnings of several new zines. The editors
asked for feedback on their ideas. My first question has always been,
"Are you sure you're up for this?". Zines are a lot of hard work, from
setting up the pages to editing the stories and writing rejection
letters. You're also going to have to put up with a lot of shit from
writers who don't have a clue how to act professionally.
To start, you need to have a vision of what you want your zine to be
and stick with it. You need to surround yourself with a support system
of people who are willing to help with the work, especially if your zine
takes off. You need to know that running a zine is time consuming and
will eat into your writing time and your family time if you aren't
If that doesn't scare you and you're still willing to get into the zine business here are a few tips that might help.
1. Run your zine like a business. You're offering a market for
writers so be as professional as you expect them to be. Set up
guidelines that say more than, "send me your best shit" but don't get so
nit-picky that you scare off potential contributors. Set up a page that
explains who you are and why you're getting into the zine business. If
you're a weekly, monthly, or quarterly set the pub dates and hit them.
People will only show up to read if you're there on time. They won't
come back if your weekly issue turns into a whenever-I-feel-like-it
issue. And writers get tired of their stories being held in limbo until
you finally decide to put it up. Your new zine is a business, you're
self-employed, and if you don't do the work it won't get done and you've
2. Most zine editors are writers and you have a circle of writer
friends and writers you admire. Tell them what you're doing and ask for
submissions for your first issue. Most of them will be glad to supply a
story, either new or a reprint. Once you've got your issue ready, post
it. With this issue you've given new writers an example of what you're
looking for, you've set the tone of your zine, and writers looking for
markets know that you're taking this new project seriously. Don't
believe me? Take a look at Needle magazine and Beat to a Pulp, that's
how they got started.
3. Have fun with it. Yes, it's work, but it's also your "baby", so
to speak. If you're having fun putting it together, it will show.
Readers and writers both will respect the trouble you've gone to for
them and they will spread the word. That word of mouth will be the best
advertisement your zine will get to help turn it into a success.
There are probably a million other things that you need to know if
you go ahead and start a new zine. What I've posted here are just a few
basics I've learned along the way. Enough to know that I don't want to
be in charge, but has given me a healthy respect for those who take on
the job and succeed.
Here's a link to the original post if you'd like to take a look at the comments. There was more good advice there.