A hand holding a book with and illustration of people excitedly sailing a ship with a lightning bolt flag

Make a Zine!: Start Your Own Underground Publishing Revolution

by Joe Biel Author with Bill Brent

Share your passions and find your community!

Do you have a passion that you want to obsess about in a love letter to the world? In this new edition of Microcosm’s popular DIY guide to zine-making, Joe Biel updates the information provided in the first edition (edited by Biel and the late and great Bill Brent) to address zine making in today's digital and social-media-obsessed world. Covering all the bases for beginners, Make a Zine! hits on more advanced topics like Creative Commons licenses, legality, and sustainability. Says Feminist Review, “Make a Zine! is an inspiring, easy, and digestible read for anyone, whether you’re already immersed in a cut-and-paste world, a graphic designer with a penchant for radical thought, or a newbie trying to find the best way to make yourself and your ideas known.” Illustrated by an army of notable and soon-to-be-notable artists and cartoonists, Make a Zine! also takes a look at the burgeoning indie comix scene, with a solid and comprehensive chapter by punk illustrator Fly (Slug and Lettuce, Peops). Part history lesson, part how-to guide, Make a Zine! is a call to arms, an ecstatic, positive rally cry in the face of TV show book clubs and bestsellers by celebrity chefs. As says Biel in the book’s intro, “Let’s go!”


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Comments & Reviews


This DIY guide includes everything a beginner needs to start making their own zines.



There are some strong portions that should be essential information to those new to the zine scene.


For a first-time zinester, this very well could be your bible and is certainly your call to arms. Even for more experienced heads, I imagine you’ll find some hints, tips and finer points on how and where to take your publication to next without losing its DIY foundation and attitude.



"the perfect book for beginner zinesters, taking your through the DIY history and culture of zines, to practical tips on printing, producing and publishing them."



"a very enjoyable and easy to read book, which will help you to organize that idea that has always been your head to make zines... in the end this book will become a kind of historical manual of how zines were made, very useful for those interested in self-publishing and for those who want to know this world." [translated from spanish]



"even if you've also been around zines for 20 years, you should buy this book. It will invigorate your passion for reading and making zines"



"...should be considered a 'must read' by anyone considering trying their hand at publishing a magazine or comic book."



as cute as a French comic book...if anyone needs some wise and friendly advice to help them create their first zine, this is the perfect guide.


[Make a Zine] adds variety to the book and helps it to become an example of the collaborative, community-minded orientation of zine publishing that Biel has tried to create. Biel and Brent’s text is actually a book of many voices, and its most interesting aspect, to me, is when its discussion how zine-making also often means participating in a community of zine producers.

Make a Zine! is also filled with a large number of cute illustrations from a number of artists in a variety of styles. These images also contribute to the book’s community orientation. The variety of illustrations turns Make a Zine into a narrow survey of zine graphics without distorting its status as a how-to guide.


When I first started making zines, I was so scared I would fuck them up somehow. It was 2001 and I’d been out of college for 2 years, living in Portland and having discovered the Independent Publishing Resource Center which was 15 blocks from my sketchy downtown apartment. (the building has since been demolished, but that is another story)
I distinctly remember asking this zinester guy at the IPRC inane questions about page numeration and what if I cut the page sizes out wrong, so they didn’t line up perfectly. His response, which was repeatedly echoed by older and wiser zinesters was basically this: “Do what you want. RELAX. It’s a zine, You can’t fuck it up-- by definition!”
Eight years later, I finally get what those guys were talking about. Anything goes with zines, hell, you could use doily and make a zine out of it; it does not matter. However, if you are a big scaredy-cat perfectionist like me, or you wanna get really serious about things like mailing list organization and what to send to a distro so that they pay attention to you, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of Make a Zine! by Bill Brent and Joe Biel. In exhaustive detail, this little puppy is the handbook for everything from Layout and Type to Going on Tour. It includes helpful hints that can only come from experience, like “Nurture a positive relationship with your postal workers.” Get it now! MARINA MENEGOL


"Holy crap, if I would have hand my hands on this when I was 17 it would have been my bible! Ironically it was first published that same year and obviously wasn’t available to me then. It is undeniably refreshing to read such a gem in an age where zines seem to have hardly a paper trail left, replaced by that glowing screen in your face. “Blogging” is now the face of the changing times, and though there are merits, they can’t hold a match to cradling the creation of someone’s blood, sweat, and tears in your hands. It takes a tremedous effort to produce, copy, and distribute your work and this book covers every tiny yet monumental detail. Every chapter has so many subjects covered that it is shocking how much effort was put into it (much like a great zine itself). ‘Layout and Type’ for example, goes in depth on page planning, making sketches, headers, footers, supplies, colors, pasting…even page numbering, white space, and typing without a computer! There is a chapter on interviews with a ‘when enough is too much’ section (!!). Contributors, copyright, postage, back issues, pricing, budgeting, and even making a sales call are all tackled in this book in careful detail. Inspiration and ethics are also highly important chapters, afterall they are the bones to this beautiful monster you are creating. I highly enjoyed this book and will use it as a bible even if I am not doing a zine today. This is a testament to something that is so special about DIY culture and something that is unfortunately disentegrating with rising costs and easy internet access. Keep zines alive! Read this book and start your own!"


"... released by Microcosm, the current reigning kings and queens of making and distributing zines. I feel like their how-to repertoire is getting a little redundant these days, seeing as how they’ve already released “Making Stuff and Doing Things” (which had zine making content inside) and “Stolen Sharpie Revolution”, another DIY how to guide with plenty of zine tips, and now this.. Though being a zine nerd myself I see the differences and took stock from this guide as well for the nuts and bolts of not only creating a zine, but many outside factors as well like getting contributors, getting distribution, copying schematics, computer programs, postage, sales, promotions, and typography. These are often secondary things that most aspiring zinesters don’t really think of offhand and that I know I personally just had to pick up along the way (which I feel is a good way to learn to so you can see the mistakes you make and learn from them). For the hardcore DIY ‘til death type this may rub them the wrong way a bit since this book gives a lot of space to a more professional (i.e.- organized) sort of approach to getting your publication out. Still, I feel there is something in here for everyone. The contacts in the back are an excellent addition, though who knows how long they will be relevant. My opinion overall is that if you have any of the other titles microcosm has released regarding DIY craftiness/zine-making you should be fine with those. But if you’re rather obsessive, and particularly if you want to know a bit more about some of the peripheral aspects of zine-making, this would be a pretty good guide to check out."


"An update of a book that might really be called Stolen Sharpie Revolution II. This is a great primer for those trying to figure out how to start there zine.

I especially liked the section where they intereviewed Jackson Ellis from Verbicide, Christine Boarts from Slugs and Lettuce and our friend Todd Taylor from Razorcake about how they estimate cost for printing, etc. While these are larger zines than most people reading this book are going to publish, their advice is based on their own experiences as their zines grew.

Overall, I would say that this book is worth the price if just for the 20 pages of resources in the back."


Longtime zine makers and self-publishing enthusiasts Bill Brent and Joe Biel are the perfect folks to make a case for their media. The combined expertise of the authors and contributors—mostly notable zinesters who also happen to be friends with Brent and Biel—makes this one of the most useful compendiums I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Originally published in 1997, the second printing of Make a Zine!: When Words and Graphics Collide! is heavily revised and updated to include more examples of long-functioning and successful zines, tips on budgeting your projects, and a lovely resource section in the back that is full of zine distributors (often known as distros), zine reviewers, and zine libraries.

Only recently beginning to explore zines with real interest, this book has restored my faith in self-publishing and provided me with newfound hope. It pushed forward my backburner ideas onto the main hot plate. I’m proud to say my first zine is in the works, in large part because of the solidly helpful, inspiring advice of Make a Zine!

Make a Zine! is an inspiring, easy, and digestible read for anyone, whether you’re already immersed in a cut-and-paste world, a graphic designer with a penchant for radical thought, or a newbie trying to find the best way to make yourself and your ideas known. You'll gain insight into your practice, find some new ideas, or get the motivation for which you’ve been waiting. Seeing your words instantly published on the screen can making blogging an appealing prospect for many, but if you’re someone who wants to hold the tangible results of your work in your hands, grab this small publishing manual to get started. The thing you'll need most are ideas and time.

Good, useful information - about postal rates, printing techniques, and how to physically construct your zine, including details like getting a clean photocopy from a cut-and-paste layout that could only have come from experience. It also discusses selling and promoting your work in a way that makes these sometimes queasy-making topics feel empowering. Thorough and detailed. Read this and make a zine!

20 years ago, when I was young and the Soviet Union was still struggling for communism, I co-published with my friends a jazz zine. It was real SAMIZDAT -- an illegal self-published independent zine. We printed it on the electric type writer with print out of 50 copies or so. It was dangerous but it was passion. Today I am working for a popular computer magazine -- and it is just a good job, not more. So, make your zines, ladies and genlemen. And I believe computers & Internet someday destroy any ...totalitarian state.

Gives the best introduction to layout, typography, stats, and design I've ever seen.

Answers all the questions about starting up a zine project.

Awesome little guide!

Authoratative, without reading like a textbook. More than enough experience to backup this advice.