Fanzine Collaboration Methods

I've collaborated with people on a lot of fanzine projects, which I will gladly ramble on about in a later post. But for now I want to talk about methods of collaboration.

In my experience fanzine production (and probably other similar collaborations) have different complexities, and solving one usually leads to another. For now we're going to assume that finding content creators is not one of our problems. The tools to use are, very often. Most fanzines are small time non-profit things with modest ambitions, however, and there's a variety of solutions I've tried.

Emailing Content to the One

Someone has to put it all together. If everyone just emails they're text and art to that person, then our Benevolent Guru of Publication can handle it, right?



Online Collaboration Tools

The fanzine I've been a part of that has had the longest run did 10 issues. We used gdocs for all text, emailed art to our editor, and tracked progress in a gdoc spreadsheet. This was a bit like the aforementioned method, because our editor typeset the thing in LaTeX. That was tedious. After a few issues we found an online LaTeX collaborative environment (I don't even remember what it was called), and one other person in the group learned to help with that part. This simplified a bit, needless to say. We also communicated exclusively in a facebook group.



Let Contributors Do Everything and Send It When Ready

This is a fun one. I've tried letting people do all their own layout and editing on their own contributions, and then send me a pdf. I merged all the pdfs into one, adding some bonus content of my own along the way, and made a print publication of it.




There are lots of ways to collaborate on fanzines. All I've tried inevitably leads to one person having to do a huge portion of the work, just fitting it all together. I've seen that some fanzines use git to collect things. I guess that works for most software developers, though I still believe a whole lot of work getting things into order and properly compiled will fall on one person.

Now, I have been that person a few times and thoroughly enjoyed it! It's just that it's also very time consuming and sometimes stressful. And it always falls at the tail end of the project; everything is done from the collaborators' point of view, now they're just waiting for me...

I'd like to find a solution that distributes the work as much as possible, but also makes the more boring parts more fun to do. It has to be simple enough that non-techie contributors can handle the full process.

Any ideas?

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal