Category Archives: reviews

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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Stealing Magnolias by Debra Shriver

 “New Orleanians have long memories and a high tolerance for eccentricity.” – Randy Fertel
If you’re a New Orleanian, you have an intimate relationship with the city. You lovingly talk about its nuances the same way you’d describe a lifelong friend, or a close relative. They might drive you nuts sometimes, but their faults only add to their charm. From decadent recipes to French influenced décor, Debra Shriver tells her tale of embracing the Big Easy lifestyle in Stealing Magnolias, a coffee table book that is not only comprised of her favorite haunts, but her adoration of the culture.

Alabama born and bred, this New Yorker fell in love with the city and found a quintessential French Quarter residence to call her own just weeks before Hurricane Katrina. While the photography alone is worth a glance, Shriver weaves an intimate tale, sharing her NOLA love notes with us as she discovers her neighborhood and decorates her home.  When we hear so much about spikes in crime, increasing property taxes, hurricanes, and crooked politicians (I’m looking at you C. Ray Nagin), it’s a necessity to take a moment to dwell on the positive details that make this city so special.

Stealing Magnolias would make a wonderful gift, or purchase a copy (via Octavia Books) for yourself and be prepared to reconnect with New Orleans. Already have a copy? Be sure to read Valorie Hart’s review of Shriver’s latest book, Spirit of New Orleans on Visual Vamp.
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Classic Southern Desserts from Southern Living

Growing up, I’ve never gave pause to the southern status of the desserts my family made. Everyone eats Bourbon balls and pecan pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas, right? When Southern Living offered to send me a copy of their latest book, Classic Southern Desserts, I hungrily agreed. I’m not much of a baker but this is a good excuse to take a crack at some of those favorites that bring back a flood of memories. On the shopping list? Buy an electric mixer, pronto. My brother is actually the real chef in the family, working at an organic bakery in Kentucky. At least I can bombard him with questions if Maw Maw doesn’t know the answer. 



The book is chocked full of every dessert imaginable, from innumerable variations of bread pudding, cobblers, tarts, pies, and cookies. There’s a recipe to satisfy your deepest cravings, no matter the occasion. From classic sugar cookies for an after work treat, lemon tea bread for Sunday brunch, or a cherry bread pudding fit for a special dinner party. If you’re as inexperienced as I am, you’ll appreciate the detailed instructions and photos. In keeping with our tradition for rich storytelling, the anecdotes behind these time honored recipes will keep you entertained and amused. If you’re counting calories, consider this a good excuse to cheat.  After all, everything is okay in moderation.


Southern Living Classic Southern Desserts (Oxmoor House, $21.95 paperback) is available for purchase via Amazon.



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Review: Southern Living Weddings Guide

I’m going to admit something to y’all and promise you won’t disown me.

I didn’t have a big, fancy southern style wedding. I eloped and got married next to a waterfall on the Havasupai Indian Reservation inside the Grand Canyon. That’s right- in lieu of a guest list as long as the train on a wedding gown it was just us and a friend, the officiant and her son plus a random rez dog that came for the ceremony then promptly left when it was over. Instead of being met with a shower of rice out the chapel we got a blessing of cool water from Navajo Falls*

Photobucket

Photobucket

That’s not to say that I didn’t buy tons of bridal magazines or pine for wedding dresses before the big day. I poured over magazines looking for suggestions but nothing ever seemed quite right. We did end up having an intimate reception (under 100 people, intimate by southern standards) when we came back that was the perfect size and didn’t cost as much as a brand new car. Even though I’m already married I’ve been thinking about renewing my vows for our 10th anniversary which is a short 3.5 years away aka a great excuse to buy a fancy dress.

So when Southern Living Magazine contacted me to review their new wedding guide I was thrilled to see how things have changed since 2004 when I said those simple words that mean so much-  “I do.”

Ceremony Venue

At first I was a little skeptical that the book could offer up anything of interest to me since after all I’m not exactly your standard southern belle. I’ve got big ol’ tattoos, I didn’t change my last name and up until two years ago we didn’t even have a joint bank account. So much to my delight when the guide arrived on my doorstep I couldn’t be more pleased with the contents. There is everything that a young, modern and (dare I say it) hip couple could need in this guide. If I had a copy of it back when I was planning my reception I would have been much better off. From tips on dessert tables to the proper way to do a toast everything that piques your interest is here.

There are plenty of clever, fresh decorating tips and easy and fun ways to personalize everything from the flower arrangements to the place cards. However my favorite part of the guidebook were the 24 couples that chose to let the magazine share their special day. I was impressed with the range of styles showcased within the guide’s pages. From the traditional church wedding to a Balkan gypsy band leading guests to the reception site there is a little something for every bride no matter what your taste is. Southern style is so much more than pearls and “Yes ma’ams” and I am glad that Southern Living Weddings mirrored that. So no matter if you are planning on honoring your alma mater or having your French Bulldog walk the aisle with you there is a little bit of inspiration for every southern gal here. Pick up your own copy before April 22nd. The wedding guide will be re-released on May 13th if you don’t get a chance to pick one up before then.

Bridal Party

*Note that Navajo Falls is no longer in existence due to a flood that destroyed the waterfall a few years ago.

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