Zine Production Log:
Ok its a year later and I have a new zine out; this one much bigger and Iv been publishing it myself - the first orders should go out on Monday; but I wanted to give some info on what it's like to make and sell print zines online as a homepage owner!Firstly what setup do I use:
- Some sort of way to make zines - I use Affinity Suit, but you can use literally anything; including scanning a hand-drawn one
- A printer - I use a Brother HLL2350DW Monochrome Laser - this does black and white only (146 euro)
- Paper! (About 20 euro for 500 pages of general paper and 250 of special paper)
- Long Arm Stapler (I paid 40 for a nice one, but you can get these for 20)
- Paper cutter (50 euro with extra blades where I live; you can get cheap ones for 30)
- Envelopes (I paid 11 euro for a 150 pack, for A5 zines you want C5 envelopes, C6 for mini zines)
- Covers (I paid about 18 euro for 60 A5 plastic covers)
- Staples come in big packs (I paid 6 euro for 5000)
- Printer Ink (This is a whole topic, but I paid 40 euro for inks to start with)
- Scissors, pens, cutting mat, and tape are all nice to have too.
All in setup costs from nothing to the basics are around 300 euro.Inks and Printers:
Laser printers are much more cost-effective than ink-jet ones and they produce cleaner long-lasting pages. (For those who don't know: here is a video explaining the difference
) - All my tests with laser have been super painless; I don't think I could handle this project dealing with an inkjet, but for a very small production run it might be a great way to start if you already have one that works!
One issue you'll run into; Most printer inks are quoted for text document printing - e.g. "You'll get 3000 pages from this ink cartridge", but that quote is for 5% ink coverage of an A4 page. My zine designs are around 50% ink coverage. So I can expect to get around 300 pages per ink cart. My zine is 16 A5 pages - so that's 8 A4 pages (4 double-sided) - plus an extra card page; that means I can print about 35 zines per ink cartridge.
You can buy name-brand ink for laser printers in double 6000 packs for 85 euro (WAY too much) or non-name-brand for 40 euro. So we can break that down 6000 pages = 60ish zines = around 0.70c per zine in ink or 8c per page.
This is a really important thing to know because if I go to my library they charge 20c per page - depending on printing costs in your area, it may be cheaper or more expensive to print yourself.
Colour printing is WAY more expensive and complex in every possible way, so I would not recommend it.Papers:
For a nice zine, heavy paper is recommended but certainly not essential - Im using 120gsm paper (this also seems to be quite economic and I was able to get it at 3c per page), it's lighter than a business card but heavier than most flyers. You can get fancy/coloured papers for your cover pages if you like but these are very costly (about 20-30c per page)
If you're printing at a print shop, check to see if they allow you to bring your own paper (most do, but remember laser printers need laser safe paper)Time:
Its a little hard to tell since I reworked pages many times and used material I had already written or made in the past - but Id say it took me a full week to make this zine or about 2-3 fully completed pages a day.
Im not sure yet how long it will take to make the first batch, but Iv set aside a full weekend to be safe. Id say it takes about 5 minutes to make a zine after cutting n everything.. so maybe I'll be done in an afternoon.
Writing addresses, doing inventory, and going to the post office will also take time - so I think production of 20ish zines might take a half day.Costs:
All in all, it costs me about 1.10 euro in materials to make a zine. Postage including an envelope costs me around 2.30 euro. Transaction fees on credit card/paypal sales around 95c. Zines sell at 6 euro plus 2.50 shipping - thats 8.50 minus 95c, 1.10 and 2.30 = 4.15 is left for me (lets say some things go wrong, plus I put stickers on them; so to be safe Id say 4 euro is left!)
It cost about 230 euro in static setup costs (printer, cutters etc) .. sooo 230 / 4 = 57! I must sell 57 zines in order to break even
After that the money can go towards supples for future zine making or towards my site costs.
In total I can (with the supplies Iv already purchased) make about 60 zines - 60-57 = 3 * 4 = My maximum take-home profit is 12 euro. Ooph, that was a LOT of work for 12 euro (assuming that many sell), but from here on out Im set up and future costs will be significantly lower.Who buys zines:
It seems like most of the people buying zines are from this forum, my newsletter, Mastodon, or are IRL friends/family - so these are people who actively engage with me, or are internet friends. I haven't gotten the impression that any casual visitor to my site has ordered a zine; that makes sense, but it's also worth thinking about - do you have a gang of friends who will order your zine? Realistically, running MelonLand and all my sites gives me an unusually big group of potential zine wanters - I am aware this is a unique position, and I'm very thankful to everyone who makes it possible
However, I think zine fairs are great too; people like to buy a zine from someone they've met in some way, so it's not a reason not to make a zine, but its worth being aware of.
Ko-Fi as a shop seems to work well, I have had no complaints - I decided to use it over my gift shop, mainly becouse I think my gift shop scares people away from providing payment info Conclusion (so far)
I will update this once the first batch has been shipped; however, I thought Id wrap up by saying that my zine experiment is modestly successful! I might lose money; but at least a thrid of the costs have been covered so far (15 zines) and I had a lot of fun designing the zine and getting everything setup!
I would say, it has taken a lot of commitment, logistics, time and research. It's quite a big project to get into, so if you are planning to make zines like this, be ready for that!
An alternative approach would be to hand draw zines; that would save some of the setup costs like the printer etc; but it would be much more time and you'd still need to think about a lot of the postage stuff.
My conclusion so far is that this is prob not for everyone; but for a few people, it might be a good project to get into - now that Im setup I definitely wanna make more zines!
EDIT 1: I had the maths in this completely wrong, it has been updated; why do numbers change very time I count them