Well, I have. There's just something special about the tactile feel of reading RPG fanzines and not having to stare at our computer screens yet again - don't we all do that enough? This is one of the many reasons I'm drawn to these new indy press fanzines that have cropped up in the vacuum created by Wizards of the Coast's "digital initiative". It's not only that excellent mags like Kobold and Fight On! are well written and engaging, its also that they are delivered to your door - in the flesh. In my opinion, profitable or not, WotC really missed the boat on this one.
Well, it doesn't have to be that way any longer. By following the tutorial I've laid out below, you can have your issues of DRAGON or DUNGEON in print and in full-glossy color for about $20 a copy from Lulu.com. Willing to settle for a B&W interior? Then the price drops to about $6. Of course, physical copies of these magazines are for your own personal collection - not to resold or distributed (that would break about a dozen or more laws), but they look awesome once printed.
- Adobe Acrobat (full version). The Mac "Preview" system application will also do, but there are occasional PDF rendering issues with it, especially with embedded fonts. Personally, I'm using Preview and Acrobat 9 together.
- A subscription to Dungeons & Dragons Insider. Without this you might have a difficult time legally obtaining copies of your favorite fanzine.
- About an hour of time.
3) Next, rotate the entire contents of the PDF file counter - clockwise 90º so that the dimensions of the PDF are now 8.5" x 11".
5) Next, return to the document and rotate the entire document 180º (clockwise twice more) and just print the first page to your PDF printer (as shown above). This file is going to be used as the actual cover file for your homemade print magazine. If you have options for High-Quality Print, or Press Quality Print, then use those options to print this first page. The result should be a very high quality PDF document of just the first page. Notice how the image preview of the document is turned 180º relative to the one before it.
6) Open the PDF print of the first page. Go to the file menu and save this document as a 300- or 600-dpi PNG file. You are now ready to upload everything to Lulu.com.
7) Open your browser and head to Lulu.com. Of course, this same process could be done with just about any other POD publisher as well. Once you are at Lulu, create an account with them if you do not already have one, then head over to "My Lulu" and choose "New Project".
8) On the next page choose Paperback book. Then title your work and leave a pen-name. PLEASE NOTE: You should also make sure that "Keep it private and accessible only to me" is selected. Publishing this magazine into the Lulu Marketplace will get you into trouble. Once done on this page, click "Save & Continue".
9) On the next page you'll see your publishing options. For the cheapest reprint (about $5.50), also choose Publisher Grade paper, and everything will default to the correct settings (B&W interior, 8.5" x 11", perfect bound). If you go this route, you might as well print it from your printer at home in my opinion. For a nicer, glossier finish in full color choose Lulu paper with full color interior. Of course, this is way more pricey at $21.50. If you are still up for the challenge, click "Save & Continue" and head to the next step.
11) Now you come to the cover, which could be whatever you want it to be. Personally, I like my fanzines to look like fanzines, so I would choose the option to upload the hi-res PNG file we created to use as the cover for my mag. Click on "Edit Picture" at the bottom of the cover editor, and then choose "Use a Different File", then "Upload a File" and point to your PNG file. Ignore the pixel size recommendations -- the image comes out just fine in the final product. Maybe not CRYSTAL clear, but looks better than my printer at home. Finally, click "Make Print-Ready Cover".
You are done! You can immediately order your newly minted DRAGON magazine for personal use, and Lulu will deliver it right to your door!
Of course... would anyone actually be crazy enough to do this? $20 for one copy of Dragon?
Well, honestly I will be doing something similar by collecting all the articles from all the past and current issues of Dragon that are of the same topic and binding them together in one convenient book. Having all the new magic item or new monster articles from 30 years of dragon together in one book would just be nice to have.
Hmmm.. food for thought...