Communication the Hard Way

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Title: Communication the Hard Way
Publisher: STW
Editor(s): Sharon Ferraro
Type: zine publishing how-to
Date(s): March 1975, revised and reprinted later that year
Medium: print
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
original version of the cover, Phil Foglio
front cover of the second edition, Doug Herring
inside art, the fanzine machine... art by Phil Foglio

Communication the Hard Way is a 6-page how-to zine about creating fanzines. It has the subtitle: "Fan Publishing."

The zine's main writer was Sharon Ferraro.

Contributors include Ruth Berman, Debbie Goldstein, Jeff Johnston, Devra Langsam, Carol Lynn, Paula Smith, Bjo Trimble, and Helen Young.

The zine was published as a joint project with boojums Press and the STW in 1975. This first edition has a cover by Phil Foglio.

The first 100 copies sold out almost immediatly, and the zine was republished, again in 1975, this time with a cover by Doug Herring, and interior art by Phil Foglio.

It was available from STW for twenty-five cents and two stamps.

This zine was succeeded seven years later by A-Zine: The "How-To" of Fan Publishing.

At the time this zine was first written (March 1975), the editor estimated that the number of published Star Trek fanzines "alone number nearly 200."


  • Introduction to Fanzines
  • Contents
  • Editing
  • Methods of Reproduction
    • Ditto
    • Mimeo
    • Offset
  • Layout
  • Art and Reproduction
  • Collating and Mailing
  • Sales
  • Advertising
  • Copyrights
  • Miscellaneous

Some Excerpts


COLLATING AND MAILING "Oh, my aching feet."

Here you are now with 50 different pages- 50 to 100 copies of each (Maybe more) and the basic problem is to transform them into lines instead of neatly stacked sheets of paper.

Place the piles with the odd numbered sides facing up in the correct sequence around the edge of the biggest table you can find. Talk to your friends, of the club and arrange a party, at which, coincidentally, you will be collating the zine; shanghai a couple dozen "volunteers" from the McDonald's around the corner; call a club meeting and announce that everyone who collates gets the zine for half price, etc. Anything to get warm functional bodies. The more people the faster the job goes. One person can get flatfooted trying to do it alone.

As your recruits circle the table, have them pick up ine copy of each page, checking the backside as they go to see if it is printed or smudged.


MIMEO: Advantages- number of copies (1000+), cost-medium, reusability. Disadvantages: Clarity, mediocre art reproduction, sore arms.

Mimeo is generally black ink, the stencils having a bluish color and a waxy texture. The printing is accomplished this way: the stencil is cut or etched- either by a typewriter or pen or a stencil tool. The deeper the etch the clearer the image. The ink flows through the etches onto the paper.

The stencils have an odd odor to them, sort of sweet and are available at most office supply stores. They will cost about $3.50 for 25 stencils. BEFORE you buy the stencils, find out what type of machine you'll be using - if it is a Gestetner, be sure you buy that brand or type of stencil.(The holes punched on the top of the stencil that hold it on the machine are different and not interchangeable.) You'll also need paper- 16 lb. paper if you'll be printing on only one side or 20 lb. if youlll be printing on both. AND a bottle of correction fluid. (40-50¢) Paper is available in many different pastel shades, but keep your reader in mind - white is easiest to read.

Cost wise, with a stencil, you can make 100 copies for approximately 50¢ a piece and the cost per issue would drop depending on how many copies you printed. And the stencils are reusable- make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place and absolutely flat.

Also make sure you have enough ink- it comes in huge tubes.

The stencils will be in three pieces again with a plastic transparent cover sheet on top. lift the plastic and remove the second sheet- a tissue. Mark the bottom of the sheet- the stencils are 8 1/2 x 14 and if you are printing on 8 1/2 x 11 paper it will be a waste of time to type to the bottom of the sheet. Or don't type anything past line 62. Insert the 'stencil in the typewriter- again preferably an electric. Set the typewriter on the stencil setting or whatever action will disengage the ribbon. You will still be able to see what you type as the keys make their indentations on the blue wax. You may wish to remove the plastic cover sheet to make corrections as you type. Make sure the stroke is heavy- the deeper the cuts into the wax, the better. When you've finished, put the plastic cover back on and re-insert the tissue for protection.

Somewhere on the machine you've selected, there should be a metal plate with instructions. Either on the outside or on the feed shelf. Or ask the custodian of the machine (the librarian, the audio-visual aide of the departmental flunky) how it works.

One thing to remember about both the ditto and the mimeo processes -- they are both hard work and timeconsuming. If you're running off 100 copies of a 50 page zine, you'll be turning that crank 5,000 times. One more little tip - check with the machine's custodian as to whether or not the counter is accurate - cranking off 5 extra pages on each set can eat up any extra paper you may have and you may run short.)


OFFSET- Advantages: No cranking work, great art reproduction, good clarity, quick and an unlimited number of copies. Dis-advantages - Cost.

An offset plate is made (The equivalent of the alcohol spirit duplicating ditto masters and the mimeo's stencils) by a camera and etched into the plate. The reproduction is as good as your original and the best part is that even though you still have to do all the layout and typing, you don't have to do the printing.

This entire booklet was done on an offset oress on a 2:1 reduction.This means that the originals were twice as big as the copy you now have. Only offset of these three methods can do this. (More on reduction later.)

For materials you will need: typing paper or a layout pad (large) from an art or office supply store, felt tip pens, rulers, pencils and a bottle of liquid paper for corrections. Possibly you will also need typewriter ribbons-in offset, the darker the image the better the reproduction. For lettering you may want to do it yourself or lasso a friend, or look into using Para-type- rubon lettering available in many different tynes at a reasonable price. Most office and art stories carry either the brand name Para-Type or LetraSet. Para-Type tends to be cheaper. Ask to see a catalog of types and be sure an instruction sheet is included.

The absolute best machine you can use for typing your originals is an IBM Selectric Typewriter with carbon ribbons. Next best is any electric typewriter with carbon ribbons. If you use a non-Selectric, be sure that the type is clean - this is essential. A little rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip and a toothbrush will get most of the dirt. Clean out the "o" and "e" with a toothpick. It would also be a good idea to start with a fresh ribbon.

Do your layout- you'll need a jar of rubber cement to paste everything down, and get ready to deliver your work to the printers. In choosing your printer there are three points to consider:

#1. Price. Wander in one day and ask for a copy of their price list-with the price of paper nowadays, they may not have a printed list you can take home, ask for a few prices like how much for 100 sheets printed both sides, etc.)

#2. Is there any charge for the reduction and if so how much?

#3. Can they screen photographs for you? (You should be so rich!) And what is the charge? Compare prices. There are several Instant print shops - many are parts of national chains. Check the Yellow Pages under Printers and call all the places that have While-U-Wait service of do offset work. Around the Midwest 100 pages both sides is running $8-$9. (Up from $6 a year ago.) Again colored paper will cost you no more in most cases, but remember that white is easiest to read. Also check the prices on heavier weight paper- you may want your front and back pages on heavy-60 lb- paper. The heavier paper comes in many rich colors. If it is to be a group decision for the color of the covers, ask to borrow one sheet of each color to show the group. Take the covers into account when comparing prices.

Once you've made all the choices, take your originals to the shop and leave them. If there are any special instructions - try to write them down and discuss them with someone in the shop. Ask any questions you feel are necessary and leave a phone number for them to get ahold of you or someone else in the staff in case they have any problems or questions.

Reactions and Reviews

It's all here—everything you wanted to know about publishing a fanzine, but didn't know who or what to ask. And in a well-organized, handsome little booklet. This is a Star Trek Welcommittee Zine Publication Info Dept. booklet edited by Sharon Ferraro. It covers all three areas of doing a fanzine: getting it together, methods of reproduction, and getting rid of it. The first area contains a guide to content, where to get material, editing, proofreading, and layout. Then, when the copy is ready, all the methods of running it off are discussed in depth, listing overall advantages and disadvantages, hints, and techniques. Lastly, collating and mailing, sales, and advertising are studied. Copyrights are briefly touched upon, and in a supplement are examined at length. Your editor is credited as a source in the supplement, since some of the info is taken from "Fanzine Etiquette" in STARDATE #7. Even if you're a hardened veteran with 2 issues under your belt, you will benefit greatly from this booklet. Though it was written primarily for the beginner, there are things in here that I didn't even know existed, let alone have familiarity with. And the cover has a beautiful Douglas Herring piece of art—one of the best he's ever done. What more can you ask for? [1]


  1. ^ from Stardate #8