Fanzine Reproduction (1976 panel discussion)

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Title: Beginning Writers
Date(s): 1976, 1977
Medium: panel discussion, recorded audio, then print re-cap
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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Beginning Writers is a May 1977 written re-cap of an audio-tape of a panel discussion that was originally held at SeKWester*Con in April 1976.

first page of the article as it was printed in the SeKWester*Con, Too program book
second page of the article as it was printed in the SeKWester*Con, Too program book

The original panelists were Connie Faddis, Debbie Goldsmith, and Devra Langsam.

The original audio tapes were created by Joan Marie Verba and others. The recap was created by members of the con committee and printed in the program book for 1977's SeKWester*Con, Too.

"Many people recorded last year's SeKWester*Con's panels and allowed us to transcribe from their tapes (thanks, Joan). And especial thanks to Jan Rigby, who, glued to her cassette recorder thru fall and winter, ensured that we'd have no 18-page gap in the program book."

Emphasis: the original panel discussion was much, much longer and more detailed, and the essay is simply a re-cap.

Some Topics Discussed

  • editing
  • mimeo and photocopying as used in zine reproduction
  • courtesies
  • dealing with zine submissions

Excerpts from the Essay

[Devra on reproduction]:

This is a mimeo master. It's a piece of tissue coated with wax. A mimeo machine forces ink through the holes and onto the paper, physically printing from typed copy onto the paper, not photocopying, It's a screen with holes on it, which means if you make a mistake you have to cover it up with fluid and retype. On the other hand, stencils cost about 15¢ each, and you can get a hand-crank machine from Sears for $25, and you can produce a nice-looking zine with pictures -- neat, professional-looking (In terms of being high-class) and you can do color. You do not have to pay local printers $6 a page. You can do it right in your house and you have control over the way it looks and everything that goes into it--you can do it the way you want.

I think a lot of trekfen mimeo because they don't know what's available. You say "Print a fanzine" and they think PRINTING! and go out and pay $10 a page for printing on one side of a page that's cruddy, when you can maybe borrow a school mimeo, or buy a mimeo or find out if you can rent a mimeo. You can rent one for a month for $50 -- it isn't the greatest machine in the world, but it's better than $5 a page.

With offset you don't do it yourself, you give it to a printer and he does it, but If you
don't know how to set it up, you're throwing your money away. There are advantages to
 offset, in reduction and artwork--offset will pick up dark blacks if you have a printer
 who takes his time and knows his machine and over inks. You can get really heavy blacks
over large areas (example, MENAGERIE 9 covers). Mimeos can produce dark areas, but it is
 difficult -- you may have to peel individual sheets off, and it soaks into the paper. Re
duced text saves money and postage.

If set up well, offset looks really good. Use good paper, a carbon ribbon, a selectric typer, always use liquid correction fluid, not the paper strips. CLEAN THE TYPE! Clean type and good paper also give best results from mimeo.

It is necessary to try different things and ask for help. My zines worked well because of Juanita Coulson, who's been doing it for 22 years and did the production work on SPOCKANALIA."

[Devra: on submissions]:

Some will not take no for an answer; they write back and say, "Why don't you like my article?" and you say -- "'cause it stinks!"

You say, "I'm not the sole editor of this magazine. I can't afford to print this zine. My cousin supports it and she has lots of money but no taste -- is in fact a crude boob. This is really good writing and touched my heart but my cousin says she won't pay for this issue if we print it, so we can't." It's a copout, but some people are very prickly and they won't accept your judgment and you don't want to tell them that it stinks.

[Connie on submissions]:

I critique, try to be as gentle as I can. It takes a lot of nerve to send something, people put their hearts and souls into it, but by being gentle you can wind up with a penpal you don't really need. Editing soaks up time, you have a choice between writing to friends or putting out a zine.

[Devra on editing]:

Never change copy without consulting the author. With pro publications it's part of the game, but if you're only giving away a free zine, talk it over with the author. If she can't bear a change and you can't bear the original, SEND IT BACK! Let them find someone else to publish. But to change without asking is sneaky and nasty--or like some editor unnamed, insert personal comments into the text of the story -- NEVER do that. It's hard enough to ask a reader to suspend disbelief without breaking into the story.

"A reputable publisher won't change a word." They do too, all the time. It's part of the agreement you sign when you endorse a check. But we have the option to be the ideal publishers and make only good changes. An editor is like a conductor of fine musicians-- if she can't get the artists to work together, it's cacophony.

A writer tends to be too close to her own work and misses flaws because she's too absorbed getting the monkey off her back and onto the paper. It's sensitive and painful, like birthing a baby--and I don't care who says they don't mind criticism--nobody likes it, even when you agree.
[Devra on customs and courtesies]: You do not usually need to return originals of a manuscript unless so requested -- even rejections, unless accompanied by a SASE. It is polite to state this when requesting submissions. As for artwork, you have been lent the artwork (unless you bought it, of course) and should return it, carefully wrapped, ASAP. It belongs to the artist. It is customary to give a free copy to contributors.