Out Now

Make a Zine (4th Edition)

Make a Zine (4th Edition) image

Do you have a passion that you want to obsess about in a love letter to the world? In this new edition of Microcosm’s popular DIY guide to zine-making, Joe Biel updates the information provided in the first edition (edited by Biel and the late and great Bill Brent) to address zine making in today's digital and social-media-obsessed world. Covering all the bases for beginners, Make a Zine! hits on more advanced topics like Creative Commons licenses, legality, and sustainability. Says Feminist Review, “Make a Zine! is an inspiring, easy, and digestible read for anyone, whether you’re already immersed in a cut-and-paste world, a graphic designer with a penchant for radical thought, or a newbie trying to find the best way to make yourself and your ideas known.”

Kitchen Witch

Kitchen Witch image

Cast a spell to turn your kitchen into a healthy haven at the heart of your home. Learn about traditional healing methods, gain practical DIY skills, and extricate yourself from reliance on toxic consumer products. Katie Haegele and Nadine Schneider's recipes and tips cover all aspects of a natural lifestyle, from home and garden to body and mind. Simple instructions and a thorough list of tools and ingredients provides you with everything you need to get started, while the annotated bibliography steers curious readers to even more information. Simple, traditional living can connect us with our ancestors, our children, and ourselves, especially during this time of political turmoil and environmental crisis.

Woke Parenting

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How do you teach your kids to be empathetic, feminist, anti-racist, kind to themselves and others, and generally not shitty at life ... especially if you weren't taught these things growing up? Parents and therapists Dr. Faith Harper and Bonnie Scott have teamed up to bring this book full of helpful guidance, perspective, and specific practices that can help your kids survive, thrive, and fight for a better world.

Unfuck Your Friendships

Unfuck Your Friendships image

Friendships might just be the most important relationships of our lives. But unlike romantic relationships, there isn't a lot of explicit guidance out there about how to look for, find, make, keep, grow, and break up with our friends. Dr. Faith has written a wise, fun, science-filled book about how to be a great friend and find other people to be great friends to you. The first half of the book is intended generally for all of us; the second half of the book is filled with advice columns getting into the very specific situations that tend to come up in our friendships.

C.A.T.S.: Cycling Across Time and Space

C.A.T.S.: Cycling Across Time and Space image

These 11 feminist science fiction and fantasy stories are all about cats... and bicycles. Some are from the perspective of humans, like the bicycle sales rep who is somehow failing to sell product on a planet of bipedal felinoids. Others are from the cat's perspective, like the adorable sphinx who is trying to learn to fly, or the ship's cat carefully plotting for universal domination. It's a playful, fun collection of well-written tales unlike anything else out there!

Radical Sewing

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Sew it yourself! Learn to mend your clothes, hem your pants or make new ones that fit you perfectly, copy your favorite dress or t-shirt, add a pocket with a button, and anything else you can dream up. Skills-based rather than project-based, Kate Weiss's new book teaches you how to think, dream, and act like a sewist, concocting clothes that fit your body, gender expression, and whatever physical needs your usual fast fashion fare isn't fulfilling.

Evergreen Ape

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A lively cultural history of Bigfoot myths in the Pacific Northwest by Seattle resident David Norman Lewis. Drawing on local legends and newspaper reporting, Lewis gets at the truth at the heart of these sightings. Includes four local hikes where you can step onto the paths where Bigfoot has been sighted.

The FBI War on Tupac Shakur

The FBI War on Tupac Shakur image

Since the first day after the tragedy was announced, controversy has surrounded the death of rap and cultural icon Tupac Shakur. In this work, preeminent researcher on the topic, John Potash, puts forward his own theories of the events leading up to and following the murder in this meticulously researched and exhaustive account of the story. Never before has there been such a detailed and shocking analysis of the untimely death of one of the greatest musicians of the modern era. The FBI War on Tupac Shakur contains a wealth of names, dates, and events detailing the use of unscrupulous tactics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation against a generation of leftist political leaders and musicians. Based on twelve years of research and including extensive footnotes, sources include over 100 interviews, FOIA-released CIA and FBI documents, court transcripts, and mainstream media outlets. 

Please Don't Feed the Bears

Please Don't Feed the Bears image

Learn to cook a range of brutally tasty yet simple plant-based dishes, accompanied by heavy metal and punk lyrics, art, and ethos. Make recipes from all over the world while listening to the black metal albums recommended to accompany each one and contemplating death. This vegan cookbook is jam packed with recipes for stews, soups, sauces, noodle & bean dishes, baked entrees, and desserts, interspersed with illustrations of adorable armed animals, meditations on suicide, a crossword puzzle, and instructions for DIY tattoo guns. Based on a series of long-obscure 1990s zines, this underground classic is now in its third edition, bringing you practical, animal-free cooking skills that will soothe your justified despair at the bloodthirstiness and futility of human nature.

Sex From Scratch

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Sarah Mirk's instant classic DIY relationship book is back, updated and expanded with sage advice for folks of all sorts of genders and sexualities. Learn to explore dating and relationships with a strong sense of good boundaries, consent, and self-worth—and without the tired old rules that didn't work for past generations and really don't work for us today. Sprinkled with interviews with amazing people about their experiences in polyamorous relationships, with and without kids, exploring their sexuality and asexuality, dating, getting married, breaking up, and having relationships defined on completely different terms. A great guide to throwing out the old, broken relationship templates that don't serve us and creating our own.

Riot Woman

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Growing up immersed in the feminist, DIY values of punk, Riot Grrrl, and zine culture of the 1990s and early 2000s gave Eleanor Whitney, like so many other young people who gravitate towards activism and musical subcultures, a sense of power, confidence, community, and social responsibility. As she grew into adulthood she struggled to stay true to those values, and with the gaps left by her punk rock education. 

This insightful, deeply personal history of early-2000s subcultures lovingly explores the difficulty of applying feminist values to real-life dilemmas, and embrace an evolving political and personal consciousness. Whitney traces the sometimes painful clash between her feminist values and everyday, adult realities — and anyone who has worked to integrate their political ideals into their daily life will resonate with the histories and analysis on these pages, such as engaging in anti-domestic violence advocacy while feeling trapped in an unhealthy relationship, envisioning a unified "girl utopia" while lacking racial consciousness, or espousing body positivity while feeling ambivalent towards one's own body. 

Throughout the book, the words and power of Bikini Kill and other Riot Grrrl bands ground the story and analysis, bringing it back to the raw emotions and experiences that gave this movement its lasting power while offering a complex, contemporary look at the promises and pitfalls of Riot Grrrl-informed feminism.

In The News

Summoning All Witches

Since 1996, Microcosm has published and distributed books, zines, and other goods that put your power in your hands. Including, lately, an increasing number of pagan, mystical, and othersuch witchy books, zines, and decks.

We've recently updated our submission guidelines to make it extra clear: We're looking to publish and distribute more works of magic, witchcraft, and pagan spirituality. Send us your anarcha-feminist oracle deck, your spellbook for finding queer platonic relationships, your comics journalism about the history of witchcraft, a guide to the magic your grandparents taught you, agricultural tips for witches, adorable drawings of animals on broomsticks, or whatever creative way you've found to help people see beyond the pale of normalcy to change their lives and the world.

We are always, especially, looking for submissions from authors and artists who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, mixed race, disabled, neurodivergent, queer, transgender, nonbinary, or who don't see themselves well represented in mainstream publishing.

What we publish

Our first tarot deck, The Gold Lyre Tarot, was funded on Kickstarter in early 2021:


We're proud to publish Friday Gladheart's annual The Practical Witch's Almanac.

3 ornate books

And we have many more books, zines, and stickers in print and on the way, like these:

To submit your work to our publishing program, check out our submission guidelines to assess if we might be a good fit. We aim to work with authors and creators who can work within our processes, so following our guidelines exactly is an important first step when submitting a project.

What we distribute

Microcosm is also a specialty wholesaler, selling thousands of books, zines, and decks from other publishers, big and small primarily to non-book-focused gift stores. We work with Big 5 publishing houses, zinesters cutting and pasting in their closets, and everyone in between. And these folks are putting out more and more books celebrating paganism, crystals, astrology, tarot, the occult, the moon, and more.

a screenshot of a page from microcosm's catalog
A page from our online catalog, sorted by the "Witchy" subject tag

If you already have your own publishing program and want to see if our wholesale program is a good fit, check out our distribution info.

WorkingLit: Publishing Software from Microcosm

a logo showing an open book

WorkingLit is cloud-based software developed by Microcosm Publishing that gives independent publishers tools to thrive and grow at their own pace. Our industry is run by billionaires and conglomerates, and we want to give our fellow publishers the freedom to market and sell your books, understand your business, and painlessly pay royalties.

Microcosm built our own software from scratch starting in 2001, and we owe it our survival, success, and continued independence. Now we want to share it with you. 

Get involved and stay in touch!

We're planning to launch our first phase publicly in early 2022, but we'll be releasing early iterations to friends of WorkingLit to try out in late 2021.


Unf*cking Our Pandemic, Apart but Together

An umbrella made out of a calendar page with emojis on it stops rain from falling on the words Unfuck Your Pandemic. The second u in unfuck is covered by the Microcosm logo. The graphic is flanked by two uncapped black markers.

We are shipping every day out of the Microcosm Publishing & Distribution HQ in Portland, Oregon!

All mail orders are going out within 24 hours. If you choose "pick up at store" as your shipping option, you can come ring our doorbell Mon-Sat 11am-3pm and we'll do a no-contact handoff.

We've always printed our books here in the United States, and so right now we're not seeing any significant delays in publication of our titles. Orders have slowed a bit, but we're using the time to get caught up on a serious backlog of work that's built up in our last year and a half of hectic growth. Far from reducing hours or laying anyone off, we're cautiously moving forward with the hiring process we began last month. In other news: we aren't going anywhere.

Ultimately, our strength has always resided in how we've built up communities around us, and so we've started to work on strengthening those where we can through a variety of ways:

  • Dr. Faith Harper is doing a live story time with her book Coping Skills on our Facebook page. She'll be doing it nightly at 5 p.m. central until she's done, and the videos will be archived on our page at least until this passes.
  • At the request of the author, we've made the ebook version of Teenage Rebels 99 cents. We hope we can inspire some of the millions of high school students currently sitting at home and help them continue learning. The author of Crate Digger has also requested we put both the ebook and audiobook versions of this Florida punk scene history on super sale!
  • If you're bored at home and starting to struggle, we've got a quarantine self-care pack for you - just $20 for the physical books, $15 for the ebooks.
  • We've curated a list of relevant titles on our Quarantine Survival Guide list of project-based books for people who are feeling anxious or just need something to do.
  • If you're stocked up on books and want to help others, you can do that here! We've set up a "give books to people in need" program where you can support sending care packages to spread the book love. As always, we are stepping up to offer ways to offer our books to people who are most vulnerable and in need. We are matching funds from donations at link.
  • We're going to net-90 terms for independent bookstores who place orders placed before April 30th.

We'd love to hear from you, our customers and peers, about how you're surviving these weird, weird times and what we can do to support you.

Call for Submissions: Queering Consent

To start Queering Consent off I’m looking for nonbinary pairings. Nonbinary folks with each other, nonbinary folks with men, nonbinary folks with women, nonbinary folks in polycules… So long as at least one of the characters is explicitly nonbinary, I’m not too fussed about who they’re with or what pronouns they use.

A really successful erotica anthology also needs a theme to go with the pairing. For that, I started asking what we needed more of, but in reality, I didn’t have to look any further than my own passion and knowledge of popular erotica and romance: historical romance, pre-1950s.

Why? My first two books were both anthologies, and I found myself enjoying working with multiple authors considerably. When my publisher (and now employer), Microcosm Publishing, announced they’d start doing queer erotica, I knew I had to start doing anthologies for that too. I pitched them three (!) and they eagerly accepted all of them, which I was not expecting.

To get a better feel for the market, we’re doing them as a zine series, entitled Queering Consent.

Submissions are due by August 1, 2020 DEADLINE EXTENDED now due August 28, 2020

The nitty gritty:

Word count: 1,000 to 3,000 words (longer stories are welcome, but may be published separately or considered for a later book version) or 2-6 pages of black and white comics

Format: Word, .ODT, PDF or Google document emailed to lydia(at)microcosmpublishing(dot)com

(If submitting comics, please ask for specs before submitting artwork.)

Works must be original fiction (no fanfic, sorry!) though reprints are allowed. 

More about the theme:  There simply aren’t enough nonbinary people represented in historical fiction, even though nonbinary folks have always been here. So… why not make it sexy?

Also, if it’s not consensual it’s not sex and not welcome in this series!

Payment: $25 flat fee; if we include your contribution in a book edition, there will be additional payment

I am encouraging marginalized authors who do not see themselves in most mainstream fiction to submit, including (but not limited to) BIPOC, disabled, neurodiverse, queer and trans folks. Write the stories you wish had been published and submit them to us. #OwnVoices work is encouraged, but not strictly required.

If this pairing or theme isn’t up your alley, the next two themes and pairings are:

  • woman/woman in science fiction or fantasy settings
  • man/man’s tender first times (with each other, or first time at all)

You can submit those whenever (or if you have an idea for future themes, let me know!) or you can sign up for my newsletter to find out when the submission period officially opens for future volumes. 

Reposted from LydiaRogue.com

Call for Submissions for Neurodiversity zine series

Neurodiversity now occupies a similar place in the public consciousness at this moment as gay rights did in the 1970s: no one understands it and The Borg demand our assimilation! 
Proud to Be Retarded offers exposition on neurotypicals' neurophobia and the frequent claim that they are supportive of #ActuallyAutistic people...as long as we act like they do. One reviewer for my book Good Trouble mentioned that she couldn't believe that I wasn't part of a radical zine community on the forefront of Autistic theory...so I decided to start one! The inspiration for the title lies in the homocore roots of punk and Don't Be Gay in the 1980s. Queer punks were told that they would be accepted as soon as they acted like straight people. The deadline for issue #7 is February 25, 2022 and the theme is Burnout. The deadline for issue #8 is August 25, 2022 and the theme is Mutual Aid. The theme for issue #9 is Emotions and the deadline is February 25, 2023. Submissions should be 500-2,000 words as a rough guideline! 
Your Neurodiverse Friend features advice and explanatory narrative about the neurodiverse experience for the less divergent so we can be seen as real, whole people. If you are neurodiverse, you should contribute to the next issues!The theme for issue #7 is Animal Companions and the deadline is May 25, 2022. The theme for issue #8 is Creativity and the deadline is November 25, 2022. We want your personal narrative, origin story, misconceptions you've faced, how people could better interact/collaborate/interface with you, and aspirations of how you would like the movement to grow that can serve as a narrative for NTs understanding our people's experiences. 500-2,000 words is a good guideline.
email submissions/questions to joe at microcosmpublishing daht com

A People's Guide to Publishing Podcast

In 2012, Microcosm founder and CEO Joe Biel started writing blog posts. Biel wanted to share 25 years of experience and how Microcosm sold millions of books to leave a trail of bread crumbs for others to have similar success. Biel has also written a book about the topic, A People's Guide to Publishing.

Joe and Microcosm's marketing director Elly now make the weekly People's Guide to Publishing People's Guide to Publishing podcast. You can listen to it on your preferred app, or watch the video version as a vlogcast.

Got questions about the publishing industry or need help troubleshooting your own process? Submit your question to podcast at microcosmpublishing dot com, and we'll try to address it on an upcoming episode.

Find the series of blog posts that started it all here:

An overview

What a Publisher Does

Paralleling the Dinosaurs

Title Development

For authors: How to Pitch Your Book to a Publisher

Data About Your Book's Details (MetaData)

Profit & Loss Statement

Am I Stealing Your Art?

The Economic Case for Traditional Format Offset Printing

Distribution Question (with infographic)

The Print Run

Working with The Printer

Formatting for Print

How to Pack Books for Shipping

Social Media for Authors

Self-Promotion for Authors

Organizing a book tour

Microcosm In Your Town!

Want to meet us in person, check out our books, or see an author speak? We've got author events and convention events coming up! There's a full calendar at the bottom of the page.

Upcoming Author Events

Dr Faith Harper poses over a shelf of her books at Powell's City of Books

Interested in having an author at your store or event after this is all over? Reach out!!

Upcoming Tabling Events

Where we'll be selling books, zines, and merch!


Upcoming Trade Shows and Industry Events

Usually not open to the public, these industry events are a chance for store buyers to peruse our books, write orders, and chat about terms. We plan to either attend or exhibit at the following events. If you'll be there too, drop us a line—we'd love to meet you.

  • October 3-4, 2021: PNBA, Portland, Oregon (table tbd)
  • October 7-9, 2021: MPIBA FallCon, Denver (table 47)
  • January 23-27, 2022: Las Vegas Market (room 1064)
  • February 3-5, 2022: PubWest, Denver
  • February 13-16, 2022: Winter Institute, Cincinnati

a customer browsing a table full of books

Planning an event and want us to be part of it (speaking, author readings, movie screenings, setting up a book and zine pop-up shop, etc.)? Let us know!!

In the Portland area? We can set up a book fair at your workplace like the ones your school used to have.

Calling for submissions for the Scene History series!

Are you stoked about the history of your town? handwritten "clean up your mess" sign at Speak in TonguesDo you find out interesting nuggets by talking to those who came before you or by scouting out details on Google and Wikipedia? Do you want a reason to hunt out some people you respect and fill in the gaps? Well, the Scene History series is an opportunity to do just that. Like our Simple History Series, we will publish a new volume each year of the Scene History series that tell the story of a particular city's scene. (the series does not profile individuals, albums, or bands, and must be framed around a real scene, no fiction!) Suggested length is 15,000-30,000 words. Get as creative as you find gratifying. Learn about your favorite places and how things developed. Check out the existing Scene Histories here! To pitch, just send a general summary of the scene that you are profiling, the years profiled, and your qualifications/interest to profile it! Will it be prose or comics? Do you have access to photos and images? Why are you excited to do this?
The most common trap that people run into writing for this series is that they want to write an encyclopedia—everything that happened in sequence, include all of their friends, and generally share every detail and almost immediately they spiral away from any kind of coherent narrative at all.
In any writing and especially for this series, it's important to maintain a narrative structure—the scene is the protagonist and your story needs to show the scene changing as a result of resolving the conflict.
Create an outline for us to review—Intro, Chapters, Conclusion—with one to three paragraphs describing each section. Each section's description should open by stating the main knowledge and skills the reader will take from that chapter, and giving us a little color about what sort of research, science, details, and/or examples it touches on. This isn't busywork and typically becomes the frame and the actual opening text to each chapter. Even after work has been accepted, this exercise is the first step towards the editorial process.
Submit or ask questions to joe at microcosmpublishing daht com

BFF Book Subscription

BFF Book Subscription imageBe our Book Friend Forever (BFF)! For 6 months you'll receive every new title we publish. The subscription is sliding scale price $15-30/month—check it out here!  Thanks for your support!


Staff Picks: Our favorite indie bookstores

It probably won’t surprise anyone that Microcosm workers love us some independent bookstores. In honor of Small Business Saturday this November 27th, we’re joining the American Booksellers Association “Indies First” campaign to encourage everyone to pay a visit to their local bookstore and pick up some holiday gifts (and reads for yourself, too, of course). Not sure where your nearest bookstore is? This map at Bookshop.org is easy to use and decently complete.

Here are some of our staff faves, edited for length (most of us had several and it was very hard to choose).

Sidnee, operations manager: Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA. The multiple floors makes it feel so magical and their kid section is awesome. Such friendly employees and I always find great gifts there, plus they’re great about supporting local artists of color with readings and features.

Glenn, data and shipping assistant: Visible Voice Books, Cleveland, OH. My local go-to. On the top floor of a converted funeral home, with a pizza place below it and a basement BBQ restaurant. It is very small but really well stocked with selected fiction and some very deep nonfiction sections, especially music and politics and local Cleveland things. Also has a cafe space with coffee and tea and wine and beer, where I spend most Sunday afternoons.

Sarah, store and receiving manager: Rose City Book Pub, Portland, OR. I love it and the owner is amazing. They have a special shelf for local and self published authors. The owner is an incredible baker and everyday she brings in a different kind of pastry. The back patio is platonic Portland vibes with murals, overgrown plants, and fairy lights.

Rose, intern: Phoenix Bookstore, Burlington, VT. A community favorite that hosts great author events. 

Kristine, key accounts manager: Moe’s Books, Berkeley, CA. Great selection of new books (including, ahem, a good selection of Microcosm), great selection of used books (and very fair trade-in prices), great rare/collectible books & paper ephemera section on the 4th floor, 1st Amendment warriors (busted for obscenity for selling Zap and Snatch comics in ’68), terrific events (hopefully resuming soon), all around good people.

Lydia, publicity manager and editorial associate: Village Books and Paper Dreams, Bellingham and Lynden, WA. Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham (and Lynden!) Washington are great. The cozy atmosphere, cafe and three (!) stories of books in the main shop in downtown Fairhaven are an absolute treat. They do good work too with local writers groups and host author events regularly, and have an incredible selection of new and used books.

Vevina, intern: Mother Foucault’s Bookshop, Portland, OR. I absolutely love Mother Foucault in Portland. The place is a beautiful mess inside and full of different books ranging from Kafka to Kristeva. But what I really love is that they have a lot of literary theory books.

Lex, editorial and marketing manager: Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC. Scuppernong Books in Greensboro. Great poetry section, great kids curation, always good conversation with the owners and staff and bar for working with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. They were my first point of contact in Greensboro.

Pandora, intern: The Corvallis Book Bin, Corvallis, OR. The Corvallis Bookbin! I’m biased because I work there but… it’s a good team and I love being here!

Kalen, sales director: Mutiny Information Cafe, Denver and Trinidad, CO. They’re a fantastic community hub here in Denver. In addition to a fun and unexpected selection of books and zines (lots from small presses), they have great coffee, Biggie Smalls the bookstore cat, and events from punk shows to candidate forums. They also have a community pantry out in front of the store and do a lot of mutual aid support.

Elly, marketing and editorial director: Main Street Books, Minot, ND. Very far away from anywhere else in the US, this cozy, homey bookstore does a fantastic job serving its community. We first went there when it was a venue for some of the more acoustic elements of the Why Not Minot Fest. They serve a community that’s deeply conservative but also home to workers who come from around the world and a left-leaning student population, and they manage this with grace.

Joe, publisher: Mac’s Backs, Cleveland OH. When I was a shorter person, trying to figure out why the books that everyone insisted on showing to me were so boring, Mac’s Backs began subtly showing me politics and history that I had no idea about. Like any great bookstore, I could quietly poke around and find things that suited my ballooning brain. And I can attribute 20% of my self-awareness to the topics that I uncovered there was well as the lack of judgment that I received at the counter.