Fanzine FAQ (version 0.9)

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Alara Rogers

Sep 11, 1994, 12:32:05 AM9/11/94
The Fanzine FAQ, version 0.9

Created September 10, 1994 for alt.startrek.creative. No rights reserved,
except that if you modify this, change the version number and keep my name
on it referring to this version. Please distribute freely.

This FAQ was written by Alara Rogers with no reference to any other FAQs on
fanzines that may exist elsewhere. Any incorrect information is probably
my fault.

An update (the 1.0 version) will be posted in a few days with submission
information for Pocket Books, DC Comics and Malibu comics. Right now I
don't have that stuff, and since it refers to professional publication, not
fanzine publication, I'll hold off on it for the moment.


If you read about fanzines (sometimes called just 'zines) in Newsweek, it
will tell you that they are the non-profit creation of single individuals
on topics such as music and the Brady Bunch. This is not what media sf
fans mean by fanzine.

To a media sf fan (ie, a fan of fantasy or science fiction in movies,
comics or television shows), a fanzine is a bound collection of fan
fiction, either an anthology or a novel. Articles, both fictional and
non-fictional, are included.

Fanzines range in size from 40 to 400 pages. They may be stapled,
hole-punched, velo-bound or spiral-bound. They may be booklet-sized or
full-page sized. They may or may not have art. The only thing that defines
a fanzine is: does it contain fan fiction?


Probably if you're on this board, you know what fan fiction, often
abbreviated "fanfic", is. In case this gets uploaded to other boards,
however, or if you want to use this FAQ to initiate your friends, I'll
explain. Fanfic is fiction written about a media sf source (which is
almost always television or movies, occasionally comics and even more
rarely books), such as Star Trek or Star Wars. It is *non-profit.* This
distinguishes it from the Pocket Book novels and DC comics released about
Star Trek, for instance. People get paid money for those things, are
authorized to do them, and have severe restrictions placed on them on what
they can write about. Fan fiction is illegal (more on this in a minute),
unauthorized, cannot be produced for profit, and has no restrictions, not
even good taste. :-)


There's no question about it; fanfic is illegal. By writing an
unauthorized story about someone else's characters, you are breaking the
copyright laws. Parodies are acceptable under the Fair Use provisions, to
a certain extent; however, I am assured that legally you cannot keep
parodying the same thing. You could parody Classic Trek, TNG, DS9, and each
of the individual movies *once*. Then your parody protection runs out.

How serious is this? Not very. Paramount, in particular, has a "live and
let live" attitude toward fanfic writers; they're well aware that fanfic
writers are more likely to buy authorized merchandise than Joe Schmoe, who
watches TNG when it's on but isn't really involved with it, is. As long as
you don't make a profit and don't have a terribly high profile, you are
almost certainly safe. If you write adult fanfic, you may wish to keep a
lower profile than most, especially in fandoms like Star Wars, where the
Lucas Lawyers will come down on you like a ton of bricks for implying that
their characters have sex. (It's happened.)

However, DO NOT MAIL YOUR STORIES TO PARAMOUNT! Showing a zine to an actor
you meet at a con is one thing; they are freelancers, paid by Paramount but
not associated with it. Showing your zine to Rick Berman, or mailing it to
Paramount, is asking for trouble. Paramount can legally protect its
copyright only if it adopts the official posture that it doesn't know its
copyright is being challenged. If Paramount officially knew about fanfic,
Paramount would be forced to officially crack down on it or risk losing
their copyright. Paramount doesn't want to do this, you don't want them to
do this, so DON'T SHOW YOUR ZINES TO PARAMOUNT. This goes for zines in
other fandoms as well.

(An exception to this rule is fandoms based around books. Mercedes Lackey
has established legal rules for other people to play in her universe, and
therefore it's perfectly acceptable to show her your fanfic. Anne
McCaffrey has done the same thing. Marion Zimmer Bradley has gotten burned
by an asshole fan whose husband, a lawyer, told her that if she had been
given persmission to write Darkover stories she could legally challenger
Zimmer Bradley's copyright, so I'd be careful about Darkover stories if I
were you. This doesn't apply to all authors; for instance, don't show
Count Saint-Germain stories to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro; she has cracked down
on them and will serve you with a cease-and-desist order.)


Again, if you're on this board chances are you don't need to know.

On the most basic level, the question means "Why write using other people's
characters at all?" If someone needs to ask, there really is no good way to
explain it to them. Professional writers tend to be very anal on this
topic, and cannot understand why you would play in someone else's universe
when you can create one of your own. For those interested in a scholarly
study of why fans write fan fiction, check out "Enterprising Women" by
Camille Bacon-Smith and "Textual Poachers" by Henry Jenkins. "Enterprising
Women" is published by University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, ISBN
0-8122-1379-3, and I *think* it's $32.95. I'll post info for "Textual
Poachers" when I find the book in my disaster area of a room again. If some
snotty jerk implies that you write Star Trek because you have no
imagination of your own, you can turn around and loftily tell her that you
are engaging in a discourse with an alternative community, or that you are
participating in a form of storytelling far older than the Western
preoccupation with originality. Failing that, you can just shove War and
Peace up her nose. :-)

On another level, the question may mean, "Why not try professional avenues
of publication?" See the next topic.


If you are a fan of anything other than Star Trek, you can't. Sorry.

(I should qualify that. Star Wars, Alien Nation and other sources have
available slots for professional publication *if* you are already an
established pro. Established pros who are fans of a series get all the
luck. If, like me, you are an obscure schmoe with few if any professional
credits, your only chance is with Star Trek. If you really want to publish
Star Wars fanfic that badly, write several professional novels, publish
them, and then see if Lucasfilm is still authorizing novels. The same goes
for Sherlock Holmes and several other sources. If you really want to
publish Blake's 7 professionally, you're already too late.)

If you are a fan of Star Trek, there are three possible avenues for you to
publish fanfic professionally.


Pocket Books is the sole provider of Star Trek novels.

Pocket Book guidelines are very strict. One must write about the main
characters of the series. If a main character is dead, they may only
appear in flashback; you cannot write a Tasha Yar novel. One may not do a
series crossover. One may not establish new family members or serious love
interests for the characters. And one must leave the characters unchanged
at the end of the book.

These rules were institutionalized by Pocket Books under a directive from
Paramount shortly after TNG books started coming out. Rumor has it that
they were established in response to Jean Lorrah's "Metamorphosis". I can
neither confirm nor deny this; however, "Metamorphosis" was a giant novel,
and those get away with a certain amount of rule-breaking anyway.

Based on the evidence of the books we're seeing on the stands, writers for
TOS and TNG stories are being pulled from a stable of established, if not
very good, TOS/TNG novel writers. These books (*especially* the TNG ones)
are notable for having less character development, less interesting alien
societies, and less complex plots than the series itself.

Q. Can I submit a novel to Pocket Books in which Q loses his powers,
like in Deja Q, only he doesn't get them back, and then he goes to live on
this starbase, and the story picks up three years later and the Enterprise
crew barely appear in it?
A. You can submit anything you want to.
Q. Does it have a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted?
A. No. (And I'd be annoyed if you tried, because I'm writing a fan
novel with the exact same plot :-) ) (Hopefully this FAQ will be read by
the friends of mine who say "This is really good, you should submit it to
Pocket Books"-- as if it being any good has anything to do with anything)

This is an important thing to consider. It does not matter how good your
book is. You cannot break any of Pocket Book's rules unless you are an
established pro.

DS9 novels seem a little more flexible (witness the book in which several
main characters die; sure they come back, but no non-giant-novel TNG book
could get away with that), and use authors who, while they may have small
bodies of established work, are not TOS/TNG novel writers. So far I
haven't seen a DS9 novel by Michael Jan Friedman. Frankly I hope it stays
that way.

You cannot write a giant novel unless you're an established pro. Don't
even try.

(In future I will include submission addresses and guidelines for Pocket


DC Comics is the provider for TOS and TNG comics.

You have no chance.

If you want to submit artwork, you have a shot. (I'll include the relevant
info for that later.)

However, DC is not accepting unsolicited submissions for Trek plots at this
time (or probably at any time.) If you really want to write Trek comics,
break into writing for comics, publish a lot of stuff, become a household
name, and then say "I'd like to write a Trek story." It worked for Chris
Claremont. :-)

Malibu Comics is the provider for DS9 comics, and I don't know if you have
a shot or not. I'll publish the relevant info later.

The thing to keep in mind is that Malibu does not have a license to TNG or
TOS. They *cannot* publish a crossover story. It doesn't matter how much
they want to, they can't legally do it unless they team up with DC. Now if
*they* have an idea, they may pitch it to DC. But if *you* have an idea,
the only place it will get pitched is the circular file. :-) Keep it to
DS9 characters. To be safe, I wouldn't even use crossover characters who
have appeared on the show, like Q or Lwaxana Troi.


Amazingly enough, you have a better shot at this (at least for DS9) than
you probably do for Pocket Books. Paramount is chronically running short.

If I can find Lolita Fatjo's script guidelines, I will publish them in an
update of the FAQ. The short form is:

1. Only DS9 stories are acceptable. (They will not make a movie of your
great TNG idea. Movies are scripted in-house. And Voyager will be
reserved for in-house writers only for its first season.)
2. Only stories that are primarily about DS9 characters are acceptable.
The tale of Lieutenant Mary Sue, who is posted out to DS9 and falls in love
with Dr. Bashir, is not acceptable (though the tale of Dr. Bashir falling
in love with Lieutenant Mary Sue *is*.)
3. Stories *must* be full scripts, no synopses or treatments, between
53-59 pages in length and must follow Paramount script format exactly.
4. Stories *must* be accompanied by a Paramount release form.
5. Do not write about previous guest characters. (I don't know how
serious they are on this. One of the few fan stories I know about to make
it into TNG, True Q, had a previous guest character. I suspect that the
rules are different if you want to write about Q than if you want to write
about, say, Moriarty. On the other hand, this being DS9 and not TNG, I'd
stay away from crossover characters like Q.)

For more detailed guidelines and a Paramount release form, write to:

Lolita Fatjo
Star Trek Script Coordinator
c/o Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Ave., Hart 104
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Before submitting a script, you should register it with the Writers Guild.
Send an unbound copy and a check or money order for $20 to Writers' Guild
of America West, Inc., Registration Service, 8955 Beverly Blvd., West
Hollywood, CA 90048. For info call (213) 550-1000, and ask for
Registration. (I don't know where you send it if you don't live in the
US-- presumably the same place.) Then when you submit your DS9 script,
include the registration number on the cover.


Now you're speaking my language.

There are zillions and zillions of Trek zines, more than of any other kind
of fanfic zine. I hardly claim to be an expert-- I am relatively new to
zine fandom myself, coming from APAs (and those will be explained later,
too). The following listing is therefore extremely incomplete.

Farpoint Press
puts out Beyond Farpoint (and has proposed a Classic Trek zine, Before
Madeline Hill
Farpoint Press
PO Box 142
Clifton Heights, PA 19018-0142

Well-written Next Gen (and a limited quantity of Classic-- I don't
know if they take DS9) fiction and articles can be submitted to Farpoint
Press, which
puts out Beyond Farpoint. "Just about any type of story is acceptable with
a few noteworthy exceptions: 1. No slash. 2. No extreme violence or graphic
cruelty. 3. No explicit sex, although you can imply as much as you like.
BEYOND FARPOINT is a PG to mildly R-rated zine, so you can imply a great
deal, but no "heaving cleavage, sweating, writhing, genital waving, pumping
or grindng" stories. That is, we try to IMPLY TASTEFULLY where sex and
violence are concerned, and leave the characters intact and unscathed by
the end of our piece."
Send submissions (*not* your only copy, and no simultaneous subs allowed)
to Farpoint Press at the above address. Send in standard manuscript format
(double-spaced, no justification) in hardcopy or on disk. Most modern word
processing software can be read. Also files can be sent online to
CompuServe 70274,2577, but WRITE FIRST if you'regoing to submit in that

The Q Appreciation Society
puts out Quisine
Annie Hamilton
Q Appreciation Society
P.O. Box 492
Corinda, Qld 4075

The Q Appreciation Society are interested in well-written stories
featuring Q. The slant is Q as a more or less sympathetic character-- if he
is villainous, there must be a good reason ("Q is bored" is not a good
reason.) Most of the stories feature Picard as the protagonist (Picard is
the editor's second favorite character, also Picard and Q work better
together than most other pairings with Q), but the only requirement is that
Q be in a major role and that it be a good story. (They tend to rewrite
stuff like crazy, or so they tell me.)
Orion Press
puts out Eridani, Tantalus, Idylls, Outpost, Orion, and others

Eridani is a general TNG zine. Orion is a general Classic zine. Outpost
is a general DS9 zine. For submissions and to purchase zines, write to:
Orion Press
Randall Landers
3211 Saddleleaf Dr.
Albany, GA 31707

Idylls is a relationship zine, and Tantalus is hurt/comfort, both dealing
with both TNG and Classic (and perhaps DS9 by now.) For purchasing zines,
write to above address; for submissions, write to:
Ann Zewen
11729 Fairway Dr.
Irvington, AL 36544

Ideally, the thing to do is buy zines that seem to be aimed at your
particular interests, read the submission guidelines in the beginning (or
write to the editor and ask for submission guidelines.)

This is, of course, easier said than done.


Well, you *could* try your local Creation Con (gnnsnicker snort sna wa

I'm better now.

Seriously. Expecting there to be zines at Creation is like expecting to
find a comic book that isn't aimed at teenagers at Waldenbooks. It could
happen... but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Generic sf conventions actually have a much bigger zine selection. I have
found decent zine selections at I-CON in Long Island, LUNACON in Rye, New
York, once or twice at PHILCON in Philadelphia, and one year I found some
at DRAGONCON in Atlanta.

Media zine conventions are of course the best place for zines. MediaWest,
which someday I shall go to and spend vast amounts of money, is THE zine
convention. I don't know where it's held or when, and I'd appreciate
learning that info.

Finally, when all else fails there's mail order. Bill Hupe's Media Zine
catalog has a huge collection of zines at reasonable prices (some cheaper
than you'd get direct from the publisher) from all sorts of fandoms. Not
every zine is available through Bill Hupe's catalog, but it could get you
off to a good start.

For a catalog, send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to:
Bill Hupe
Footrot Flats
916 Lamb Rd.
Mason, MI 48854

(Note: Bill Hupe and Peg Kennedy also put out zines. You can write for
submission guidelines as well.)

There are also zines devoted to publicizing other people's zines. The only
one I was able to dig up (and I've never used this one myself), which was
current as of 1992, is:

The Monthly
Linda Roper
P.O. Box 34922
Richmond, VA 23234

This one comes out monthly (no, really?) and lists zines that came out that

Note: Always send SASEs when you want something from a zine editor. If
they live in another country, send a self-addressed envelope and an IRC
(International Reply Coupon.)


It *is* a trifle much. Such is the price one pays for obsession.

Cheaper methods of getting fanfic include:

1. Find a friend who's got some. Borrow theirs. (Do NOT xerox
their zine unless it's centuries out of print. That's zine piracy. See

2. Look for stories on the net. (If you are not reading this FAQ on
its original board, then you can go to alt.startrek.creative for stories,
or better yet to the archive at Once you ftp to the
archive, go to \pub\alt.startrek.creative. There's tons of stories, of
quality ranging from excellent to abysmal, for the price of a download.)

3. Join an APA. (See below.)


Zine piracy is part of the reason for the high cost of fanzines. The zine
pirate makes a xerox copy of the fanzine; with modern copying technology,
these are sometimes indistinguishable from the original. Then the pirate
sells the zine, generally for a higher price than the original publisher
would have charged.

Zine pirates justify this practice as a way of bringing fanzines to people
who wouldn't otherwise get them. However, they are in fact driving up the
cost of zines. Modern printing is far cheaper in bulk; the more orders for
a zine an editor gets, the cheaper the zines he or she can produce. If
people are getting reprints from pirates, it will drive up the cost of
reprinting the zine and/or make it difficult for the editor to make a
return on their investment. (Zines are supposed to be non-profit; that
doesn't mean they're supposed to take the publisher to the cleaners.)

Many fanzine editors have resorted to exotic methods to avoid zine pirates.
Color covers, color covers with protective covering, hand-numbering,
weirdly colored covers that won't copy right, embossed pages and cutout
covers are some of the methods I've seen. One outdated method is to print
the cover on red paper. Older copiers cannot filter the red, end up
copying it black, and the whole cover comes out looking like mud. However,
advanced copiers can solve this problem, so if you're a zine editor, you
might want to look at a different method of protecting your zines from
piracy. I recommend embossed or watermarked pages; you can get embossed or
watermarked paper in bulk (and by bulk I mean five hundred to several
thousand sheets) relatively inexpensively, and then using that paper for
the first page of your zine, with a disclaimer telling people to look for
the watermark, is almost certainly a cheaper method than using a color
cover, and less annoying than hand-numbering your zines in red, and is less
reproducible too.

If you suspect you've been buying your zines from a pirate, you can always
write the zine editors and ask them if there are authorized copies in the
style of the zine you have. Many zines have authorized reprints produced
in a different style.

Another irresponsible practice is the ludicrous markup of fanzines. I
bought the zine "Qubed", produced by Peg Kennedy and Bill Hupe, at a
dealer's table at DRAGONCON for $24, and considering that it had a color
cover thought it was a reasonable price. Imagine my chagrin to discover
it's available mailorder from Bill Hupe's catalog for $15. Unless the zine
dealer is a reputable one, or is the publisher of the zine, you might wish
to avoid cons in favor of mail-order. (Of course, the advantage to cons is
instant gratification...)


This is a question I get asked all the time. An APA (Amateur Press
Association) is part newsletter, part club and part fanzine. Like a club,
it has a membership, usually between 10 and 50 people. Like a newsletter,
an APA is distributed on a regular basis to all the members. And like a
fanzine, an APA contains things such as fan fiction and articles.

How an APA works:

There are x number of members in a given APA. Let's say 25-- it's a
popular number. Each member makes a contribution, called a "trib." Trib
content varies widely depending on the source product-- in general, tribs
contain artwork, fiction, and/or comments on other people's tribs in the
last APA. Then each member makes 25 copies of their trib, and sends them
to the editor-- the OE, for Official Editor, or the CM, for Central Mailer
(I use OE, but must admit that CM makes more sense), who collates together
one of each person's trib to create 25 APAs. Each APA contains one of each
member's tribs. Then the APAs are sent out to the membership so that each
member gets one. Dues or mailing costs are collected by the OE to cover
postage, and sometimes the copying costs for the covers, but most of the
expense associated with an APA is the expense of copying one's own trib.
These are, as a result, usually a lot cheaper than fanzines. The
disadvantage is that by definition they reach a smaller circulation. For
that reason, though, they're a good place for newbies to try their wings.

I do not know the addresses for any Star Trek or Blake's 7 APAs. Damn but
I wish I did. If anyone knows any APA addresses for any fandoms
whatsoever, e-mail me and I'll stick 'em on. I do know the addresses of
several APAs devoted to Japanese animation and subcategories thereof, and I
will share those if there are people interested.


That's a good question.

Many fanzines have letters of comment (LoC's, sometimes called mailing
comments or MC's) printed in the back of the next issue. Many other
fanzines don't, however. There are sure to be people more active in zine
fandom who know more about this than I do, and I'm asking them to come
forward because I really don't know the answer. I have always mailed my
comments to the editor, with a request that they forward the comments to
the authors, but I have no idea if they've ever actually done so.


Oh boy.

I've interpreted this question as an excuse to explain ST fandom
terminology, or the classification of fanfic. These definitions have been
taken from a lot of different people's explanations, and really can mean
different things to different people. This is just to give you a general
idea of the fan writer's lexicon.

"Slash" fic features characters (who generally are not homosexual in the
source product) involved in a homosexual relationship. The most famous and
first kind was Kirk/Spock (abbreviated K/S)-- the slash between the names
is where "slash" fic gets its name. Other famous kinds include Blake/Avon
(Blake's 7), Starsky/Hutch, and Bodie/Doyle (The Professionals.)

While all forms of fanfic are illegitimate, this one could get you in worse
trouble than others. Lucasfilm will hunt down writers of Star Wars slash
fic and slap them with lawsuits-- it's happened. Blake's 7 fandom suffered
a serious rupture when the actor who plays Avon, Paul Darrow, who had been
pally with fan writers, found out about this stuff and demanded that people
stop. B7 slash fic is mostly written under pseudonyms; I'd suggest that if
you want to write slash, pseudonyms are a good idea in any case.

"Mary Sue" refers to a kind of character that nearly everyone hates.
Nearly everyone in the story loves a Mary Sue; it's the readers who hate
her. There are a few overlapping definitions of a Mary Sue:

a. A wish-fulfillment fantasy of the author's. The character may
have a similar name or use the author's middle name, or simply resemble the
b. A character who is young, eager and very, very good at everything
she tries to do. These Mary Sues fall into the following: "Lieutenant Mary
Sue, Starfleet's youngest lieutenant at 16 years old, beamed aboard the
Enterprise. Immediately Kirk, Spock and McCoy were all struck by her
amazing beauty. She was sweet and as innocent as her sainted dead mother
who had left her to be raised by nuns, but she could fight like a Klingon
and spoke every known language in the galaxy. Soon she proves her worth to
the crew by saving the universe with her keen superintellect and charming
demeanor, and either dies nobly at the end or ends up in bed with the
character of the author's choice, or both."
c. Any female character who upstages the regular crew.

There is a certain sexism to these definitions-- many people are willing to
brand any original character a Mary Sue, particularly if the character is
competent. Many more people are willing to brand any original love
interest a Mary Sue. Mary Sueism is not the sole province of fan writers;
Wesley Crusher is a classic Mary Sue, the one marring factor in his perfect
Mary Sueism being that he can't get girls (by the time he can, he's less of
one.) Amanda Rogers, in the episode True Q, is even more of a classic Mary
Sue-- the character was invented by high school student Matt Cory, who
wrote her to be male and had dreams of playing the character himself. As
(extensively) rewritten, Amanda is not terribly offensive as the breed
goes; her attempt to mindrape Riker gives her a dimension of flawed
humanity that many Mary Sues just don't have.

If someone calls your character a Mary Sue, you must answer these questions
for yourself:

Given the parameters of the Star Trek universe, is my character realistic?
(If you are a 16-year-old lieutenant, you are not realistic unless you come
from a very short-lived species-- in which case your mental age is greater
than 16 anyway.)
Is my character upstaging the regular cast? If so, is he or she upstaging
*all* of them, or just one or two?
Does my character have flaws that make him or her human? (Regardless of if
they are alien)

If the answer to these is yes, no, yes (or yes, yes, no, yes), then
congratulations, it's not a Mary Sue. Laugh at your detractors and keep on

If it *is* a Mary Sue, look at ways you can make the character more
realistic. Does she have to be 16? Will 19 do? Does he have to be the
only one who can work out the equations to save the ship in time? Maybe he
can provide a key part, and Data or Geordi provides the rest? Does she
have to be so charming and sweet? Can you make her nerdy and insecure to
compensate for her 180 IQ?

Few Mary Sues are inherently unsalvageable-- it takes a bit of work, is

"Get" has two different meanings, depending on the context. A "get Picard"
can be a story in which the author's original character has a romantic
relationship with Picard (and "gets" him into bed), or it can be a
hurt/comfort story in which the author "gets" Picard mangled (see

"Hurt/comfort" is a widely written genre in which the purpose is to make
the main character suffer, and then have someone around to help them deal
with that suffering. The difference between a hurt/comfort story and a
parody in which you torture someone (say, Wesley) to death is that the
writer *loves* the main character in a hurt/comfort. People who write
about Julian Bashir being tortured by the Cardassians probably are very big
fans of Bashir. They hurt him because they love him. Probably then
they'll introduce Dax or their own personal fantasy character to comfort
Julian in his pain. (This can lead to a "get" of the other type.)

(These are all the important ones I can think of offhand-- e-mail me with
questions or suggestions for more common fanfic terms and their


So would I. Until I've actually done it myself, I won't presume to tell
people how to do it-- though again, if anyone wants to e-mail me with their
experiences, I'll include them in future versions of this FAQ.

If anyone has any other questions, e-mail me at

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