Category Archives: book review

How much it costs to make a zine

 

Making art is an expensive endeavor. Last year I started Catahoula Zine, a quarterly print publication that features eight to ten writers and artists reacting to a singular theme. Zines are the original self-publishing platforms. Anyone with access to pen and paper can make one and the beauty of zines lies in their DIY roots. However, you can also make your zine as fancy schmancy as you’d like. I like to collect all types of zines including beautiful risograph prints and ones that more closely resemble scratch paper.

I’m breaking down my expenses from my first year of zine-making in case anyone is interested in starting their own. I print with MagCloud, a print on demand service that offers high quality, perfect bound glossy publications. Depending on the pages and size, I pay between $4-$6 an issue and sell them for $8-$12. That profit doesn’t even cover my expenses though, which I’ve broken down below.

 

 

In 2016 I spent about $1,300 to print four issues, two supplementary issues, and some mini photo prints. I also attended three zine and book fests: Press Fest in Austin, New Orleans Comic and Zine Fest and the New Orleans Bookfair. You don’t have to spend as much as I did to start a zine, but prepare to fork over some cash if you plan on distributing them.

Expenses:

Shipping & postage: $162.34

Printing: $800

Business cards plus a vinyl banner for zine fests: $64

Festival fees: $68

Hotel for one night: $151

Uber in Austin: $35

Grand total: $1,280.34

Expenses not factored in:

Meals in Austin, gas, domain purchase, and monthly Adobe subscription. My true grand total is between $1,600 and $1,800.

Where I saved money:

The Austin trip was part business, part pleasure. I stayed with my sister a few nights (she lives an hour from Austin) so I saved money on hotels. I also have an Adobe student subscription, which gives me access to the programs I need (InDesign, Photoshop, Lightroom) for the price of one program.

Where I could have saved money:

I definitely overspent on dog.bites, the supplementary, cheaper zine I produced specifically to sell at zine fests.  I went to Kinko’s and shelled out more than I wanted. I originally wanted to sell dog.bites for $3 a piece but had to sell them for $6 to recoup my costs. I made about $1.40 off each one sold.

I paid for tables at three zine fests but I didn’t have to. NOCAZ offered free tables to locals and New Orleans Bookfair offered a sliding scale. I could have opted for the free table but decided to donate to the cause anyway.

Three of my four first issues had contributors. I sent each writer and artist one free copy of the zine. I could have just sent a PDF of the issue but since I’m not paying anyone I thought a print copy was only fair. This year I’m only accepting submissions for two of the four issues in an effort to save money on shipping and printing costs.

Where I made money:

The fests were my real money makers. I made between $130-$180 per day at NOCAZ (two days) and over $100 at the New Orleans Bookfair. I made $55 at Press Fest. It was the least lucrative fest but I met several people and it was an excuse to visit my sister. I also made money selling issues on the retail level (after the store takes a cut) and directly to readers at two issue launch parties, a pop up art gallery I hosted, and through the Catahoula website.

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful and the financial aspect of zine-making isn’t too discouraging. Money aside, I was introduced to lots of great people doing interesting things and really feel privileged that people trust me to publish their work. Drop a line at hello@catahoulazine.com if you want to chat about zines via email or IRL.

 

 

 

Book Review: Nasty Gal’s #GirlBoss



I’m not gonna lie, I surprised myself when I purchased #GirlBoss, the new book out from Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal. (Hash tag as book title? Really?) The book touts itself as a  how-to guide for young female entrepreneurs, chronicling Amoruso’s own success in the process. By now, Nasty Gal is ubiquitous among twenty-something cool girl types. You know, the ones that wear trends before big box retailers snap them up. While I have yet to buy anything from Nasty Gal, I am familiar with Amoruso’s enviable success story: eBay shop owner slinging vintage clothing transforms her little ol’ business into a multi-million dollar company in just seven years. 


I endured so many motivational-slash-business advice books at my former retail management job, most of which where written to strike a chord with the suit and tie wearing, moving-up-the-corporate-ladder types, not a bunch of young women in charge of running a hip clothing store. For this reason alone, it’s no wonder #GirlBoss is a bestseller. Amoruso’s rag to riches tale is relevant to the Nasty Gal customer, told through the lens of a self-made young woman. It’s about sticking it to “the man” and carving out your own path in life, regardless of your lack of experience. “If it feels right, do it” is the unspoken mantra of the book.

 #GirlBoss isn’t short on inspiration, such as Amoruso’s commendable feat of building Nasty Gal with zero debt. That alone is remarkable, as well as her innate ability to stand out in an over saturated industry by tirelessly keeping her brand’s image relevant in the fickle world of fashion. However, she tends to beat the reader over the head with the basic principles of the book. Most chapters simply rehash what’s already been said, but with a hash tag for a book title, perhaps she’s just taking the social media obsessed reader’s short attention spans in mind. 

I found much of the book too idealistic for my taste. Amoruso stresses, for example, that she was a high school drop out, never bothered to go to college, ate bagels out of the trash in order to feed herself, then started an eBay store with stolen goods. As someone who dropped out of college myself, I understand where she’s going with this: you don’t need a fancy degree in order to kick start a career, but how many dumpster diving shoplifters actually turn into millionaires? Amoruso also stresses that she winged her way to success: she busted her ass and just hit the ground running in lieu of doing extensive market research in order to realize her vision. There is something very empowering in just putting in the work versus overwhelming yourself with mapping out a business plan, waiting for the most opportune time to start, which I can definitely relate to. When I started Slow Southern Style back in 2009, I had no clue what I was doing. If I had waited until I had professional photos, a slick blog layout and an ad sales manager, well, I’d still be waiting. However, the chances of creating the next Nasty Gal- just winging it with zero business knowledge- is slim. How many people are disciplined, and lucky enough, to create that kind of success for themselves, no matter how how much work they put into it? There must have been a smidgen of kismet working in Amoruso’s favor. 


At times I wanted a tinge more humility from Amoruso. There’s a scene in #GirlBoss where she is meeting with investors for the first time, with just a small mention that she admittedly feels out of place, like a young, naive girl in an adult world. There’s so much bravado in her writing style that I wanted to see a more vulnerable side to her. We don’t really get a glimpse into those “holy shit, what have I gotten myself into” moments, even when she admits that she was in over her head in that board room. I also felt the book was part Amoruso sharing her knowledge, part trying to prove herself.  Still, you’ve got to hand it to her for saying *$%! the straight and narrow  path by creating her own company on her own terms. 


If you’re looking for a manual on how to start your own company, I’d  hardly call #GirlBoss a guide book to creating your own business. Instead, take it for what it is: a motivational book for young women that hold “bad ass bitch” as the highest compliment paid. 

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