Publishing a Webzine #1: The First Issue

Hello everyone,

Have you ever thought of creating your own webzine, online magazine, ezine, fanzine, or whatever you may want to call it? If so, you should definitely do it. Putting out the first issue of Port Iris Magazine was certainly stressful and time consuming, but I enjoyed it far more than I thought I could have before starting the project.

What to expect from these posts:

So that you know, I will be putting out at least two series of posts in this blog. This post is the first in one of those series: Publishing a Webzine. In it, I will be sharing my personal experiences and general information of what is involved with publishing a fanzine on the Internet. Yes, I do consider Port Iris to be a fanzine even though I have been doing many things with the website to make it as professional as possible. I am an amateur at editing, but I am putting forth my best effort to improve my skills.

I’d like to repeat an adage that I have heard multiple times while researching the process of creating printed zines. “Anybody can create a zine, but not everybody should.” I don’t beleive that this attitude is reflective of any inherent skill, but a determination to create a quality product. Any individual willing to put the effort and time into making something that he truly believes should be shared with the world certainly has the responsibility do so.

As I’ve learned more and more with this first issue, there are a greater number of activities that will be required of an editor than there are evident at first. Working practically as a one man crew, all of the jobs involved in putting out a product pile up fairly quickly. Hopefully, I can help some others avoid some of the missteps that I have taken and instruct them into making more webzines for me to read. More specifically, I will have a second series of posts looking at the behind-the-scenes of creating and distributing content on the web, which should be pertinent to writers too: Web Tips for Editors and Writers.

Our First Issue:

From the horror stories of professional editors, I expected a barrage of of submissions to inundate me with an inescapable slush pile. Luckily for me, submissions came in at a reasonable enough pace for to stay on top of and provide personalized responses–yes, including rejection letters. The rejection letter is certainly harder than I had ever expected, but I have come a long way since the first one, and I hope to continue to provide constructive criticism in each.

If there is one set rule that applies to publishing, it would probably be Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Life happens and will call your attention elsewhere: family, dayjobs, and all the little things like a leaking roof becoming a week long project.

As far as putting together the first issue, all of the contributors present in this issue were absolute dreams to work with, and I’d like to thank them all again for their work. There was one accepted story that is not present due to a difference in opinion. However, I believe that the situation was resolved amicably enough, and the author is still welcome to submit here again.

The greatest hassle that I had to endure was with programming the website. I will go into greater detail later, but I have decided to not take the increasingly frequent route of publishing the magazine using WordPress. Obviously, I do think that WordPress is a powerful option for web publishing, as I chose it over many other services for this blog. However, I wanted a little more control in how portiris.com was viewed. With the increase in personal input on the page, there is a greater risk of human error and subsequent time spent debugging.

But I will be going into greater detail at another time on the decisions that I made and instructions how others might be able to learn from my efforts.

-Casey Seda

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