However, the same nerds who brought you the internet, smartphone dating apps and cures to prolong your miserable existence into old age also created InDesign, so you might want to look into that. Simply put, InDesign is an Adobe app that lets you create page layouts and export them as a PDF for printing. There are a bunch such programs out there (including some freeware, last I checked), and while InDesign is the most widely used, any app that generates a print-ready PDF works, even Microsoft Word (though I would probably go with scissors and glue before using Word).
How you actually lay out your zine is totally up to you. Find a bunch of other zines, books or other printed matter that you like and that inspire you and then mercilessly rip them off. Keep it simple. Remember that you can always make your thing more complex later. Your second zine will probably look better than your first, and your third better than your second. In our biker zine example, it might be enough to feature one photo per page, or even one photo per spread. Or you could make a crazy collage out of snippets of dozens of shots, or something in between. Up to you.
Why should you export to PDF? Well, it's generally what printers, starting with your local copy shop, prefer to work with. It's hassle-free (i.e. the formatting won't change just because a file is opened on a different computer or in a different OS or program version) and the file contains all the information to correctly print on and trim the paper, e.g. page numbering, bleed and trim marks and the associated meta data.
You can actually learn a lot just from checking out the requirements different printers have for how to prepare PDFs. They are usually listed on their websites. It really just amounts to the options you check during the export of your file, and if right now you are furrowing your brow and aren't sure what I am talking about I assure you that the process is easily demystified by playing around with the export options for half an hour. (There are also lots of tutorials online on this and any related subject. In fact, right now a 15-year old in Tucson is probably recording the YouTube video that will make this entire post obsolete.) Make sure whatever images you use have a resolution of at least 300dpi.
On a side note, if you are thinking of using anyone else's creative content, make sure you get their permission and give them credit. You wouldn't re-post that flick on Instagram without a photo credit either, right? Right.
There's a lot to be said for figuring out what works best for your project by trial and error. Just keep making those zines and you'll get there. Then get them out into the world! Do whatever it takes to get your zines into the hands of the people you want them to have - your friends and family, fellow zinemakers, the girl or boy you have a crush on, your local independent book or comic book store or your local dive bar's bathroom.
This should go without saying, but don't expect to make any money. If this was a post about launching a new product, I would remind you of the five Ps of marketing: Product, place, promotion, price and profit. But you are not launching a product, you are making a fucking zine!
Savor the moment when you have picked up your box of paper from the copy shop, you have folded and stapled it and you are holding your finished biker zine in your hands. Then put it aside and get started on a new project. Most importantly, have fun doing it. If you're not having fun you can always go back to making Vine videos, recording a hit single or vandalizing your neighborhood. And in that last case, maybe I'll make a zine about it.
Good luck! Check out some of my zines here. Hit me up with questions in the comments or at email@example.com and send your zines to
Ray Mock/ Carnage NYC | PO Box 2671 | New York, NY 10163