It’s that time again! The Broken Pencil Zine Awards is back for its fourth consecutive year, and hundreds of zines from around the world will soon fly through the atmosphere and eventually make their way to our tiny attic office, each with dreams of becoming this year’s champion project. It’s always pretty awe inspiring to watch as our shelves and boxes (and inboxes, oof) begin to overflow, ready for us to to dive in and learn about all kinds of new and amazing projects.
But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that running the Zine Awards is complicated, from the initial planning stages to corresponding with artists all the way through to managing sales of the nominated and wining zines afterwards.
So in order to make it easier for you, oh ye zinester considering submitting, we put together a little FAQ that covers everything from eligibility to mailing to fees and beyond.
I want to submit! Where do I send my zine?
What counts as a zine?
- What is a zine? In general, zines are shorter, do-it-yourself or community-based publications. Zines can take many forms and have many traditions. They are produced independently (rather than by a publisher or magazine). Many, but certainly not all zines are photocopied, staple- or thread-bound and affordable (folks like to break these rules, too!). Zine titles can be one-offs or serialized in multiple issues. Lots of zine creators share their work through personal networks, zine distributors, zine festivals and fairs, and online. Check out brokenpencil.com to see hundreds of examples.
- Signs your entry might not be a zine include: it costs more than $20, it has an ISBN number, it has no pages or no printed form, it’s longer than 100 pages, it’s literally just a Word document, you’re pretty sure it’s not a zine after looking at examples. That said, there are exceptions to every rule (except for the Word doc thing). Chapbooks, micro-journals, and art zines in particular might be exceptions to these due to length, publisher, or price. If you’re really not sure, email [email protected] and ask us what we think!
Do you accept older zines?
Do you accept zines in different languages?
Do you accept longer self-published works such as novels?
What if my zine doesn’t fit neatly into one of your categories for submission?
What are the judges looking for?
All zines will be judged in comparison with other entrants in the same category by multiple people with experience in the relevant zine worlds. There’s no perfect formula for the zine that stands out the most, and typically the judging is pretty darn agonizing. Overall, we’re looking for zines that are impactful for the reader, that enrich the landscape of its category, that are well printed and packaged, and that surprise us. But of course, this varies with the genre, the judge, and the pool of zines we’re looking at. Above all, submit a zine that you loved making and that you are excited to share, not a zine that was made with the Zine Awards in mind – zines with big hearts go a long way.