Breathing Exercise to Help you Relax

I know that for most of us in the US (or even those just following US politics right now), our blood pressure is through the roof. (Personally, I woke up with a stress headache yesterday and it’s still hanging around today like an unwanted roommate.)

So, in honor of all of us combating election stress, here’s an exercise from our upcoming title, Unfuck Your Body by Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN. This exercise should help you reconnect with your body and relieve stress (and hopefully lower your blood pressure).

Alternate Nostril Exercise
(Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)

This breathing exercise includes breathing from alternate nostrils. This exercise cleans nostrils, nadis, and sinus. It is also helpful in the activation left and right side of the brain simultaneously.

  • Get your body comfortable, sitting if possible.
  • Place your left hand on your left knee, and lift your right hand up to your nose.
  • Tuck your middle three fingers into the palm of your hand, leaving your pinky and thumb extended (the universal sign for “call me!”)
  • Complete an exhale, then use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, then use your pinky to close your left nostril while opening your right nostril and exhaling through the right nostril.

That is one complete breath cycle.

Continue for up to five minutes, completing the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.

This technique is great for balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain and balancing the vagal system. Studies of pranayama have demonstrated that alternate nostril breathing was the only type of breath work that was found to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system (heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure).

Hypertension, an active migraine, an active sinus, or an chest infection are contraindications for this technique. Also generally be aware of discomfort if you have a full stomach.

Rest in Purpose, Ruby

This is a sad one.

Ruby and Joe at Powell’s Books in January, 2019

Ruby was the medical alert dog for Microcosm founder and CEO Joe Biel from February, 2012 to June, 2020. She was a constant presence in our office and at events.

At a reading at WhyNot Fest in Minot, North Dakota

Her service dog training meant she was skilled at making herself invisible most of the time, often sleeping curled up next to Joe’s desk or under the table at a convention or a restaurant. Even so, she made friends everywhere she went, when she ventured out at Joe’s side, or to occasionally alert someone passing by that their blood sugar was dropping (she did this by poking their leg with her nose). When she walked by one of Portland’s many brunch spots, she would often go down the line of people waiting, alerting them all. One day, a couple was fighting on the street and she ran up to alert them. She wanted to help everyone. Her intelligence and loyalty were astounding. Once she had met someone, she considered them part of her pack forever, even when meeting them again years later.

Long convention hours meant lots of napping on the job.

Along with her remarkable skill at detection, she was also trained for public access, which meant she could handle herself gracefully in situations, like a grocery store, restaurant, airplane, or train, that would challenge even a well-trained pet dog. She never learned to pedal her own bike, but we celebrated her bikeyness a couple of years ago with this fanciful enamel pin.

Just another daily commute.

Thanks to her unique assistance in managing his disability, Joe was able to lead Microcosm out of the recession, growing us from a small press to a midlist publisher and wholesaler, and more important, to begin to regain his health and safely live a full, active life.

Joe, Ruby, and Elly at the Microcosm office. Photo by Laura Stanfill

Ruby loved to travel everywhere with Joe by train, plane, and bicycle. Food was her primary motivation. And she loved people; her training taught her to be standoffish when she was wearing her service dog vest, but in her off-hours she loved nothing more than a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. And even when working, she knew when someone was talking about her and perked up with great interest.

Ruby and Joe walking in Detroit.

She passed away on Tuesday, June 23rd, just hours before her first book, Do Not Pet, arrived from the printer. She is dearly missed by all who knew and admired her.

Ruby’s trainer told us that she was the rare dog who found her purpose. In her honor, we’re continuing to center our own meaning and purpose every day. We hope that her legacy will outlive her, educating people about the amazing work of service animals in opening up the world to people with many kinds of disabilities.

In Downtown LA

Books for the New Bicycle Revolution

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the streets are suddenly free of traffic, and a lot of folks are rediscovering bicycling—you can tell by looking out the window, or at our order queue.

Books and zines about bicycling (and stickers… oh, the bike stickers!) have long been Microcosm’s bread and butter. The interest never goes away, but it’s been way up lately. Here’s a list of (almost) all of the bike books and zines we publish, and you can find everything bikey in our catalog here.

And here’s short list of our recommendations for people who are just getting with riding or wondering how we can sustain relatively car-free streets post-pandemic.

The Chainbreaker Bike Book is our classic manual, now in its third edition. Learn to repair your bike (especially if it’s an older bike), and get inspired by the rich history of DIY bicycle culture.
Adonia Lugo’s instant classic, Bicycle/Race, is a must-read for any aspiring or experienced bicycle advocate who wonders how we can work towards safe, inclusive transportation in a deeply unequitable system?
Everyday Bicycling is your guide to getting started as a transportation cyclist, including tips on carrying everything from lumber to kids to cupcakes.
Bikenomics is the definitive economic argument for investing in bicycle transportation at a personal and civic level. This is the one to give to your city councillor or business district development group, or just hone your own arguments for why bike-friendly streets make sense for everyone.
The perspectives in True Trans Bike Rebel about bicycling and walking from transgender and nonbinary authors and artists range from delightful to thought-provoking; all worthwhile reading for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider in the cycling world.

In issue #4 of the Bicycle Culture Rising zine, read about how Kittie Knox, a teenage cyclist in the late 1800s, changed bike culture forever.

We are currently Kickstarting our newest volume of feminist bicycle science fiction: Trans-Galactic Bike Ride!

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

No Time to Be Ashamed: A review of Courage Party

Microcosm interns each have the opportunity to choose one of our books to review. Veda, one of our winter 2020 interns, chose to review The Courage Party, Joyce Brabner’s new illustrated book for young people about dealing with sexual assault. The Courage Party officially comes out in August, but we’re shipping directly from our warehouse now.

Content note: This review contains non-explicit discussion of child sexual abuse being poorly handled by authorities

“I wish this book had existed when you were little.” 

My mother and I began to cry over dinner as I explained to her the premise of Joyce Brabner’s new book, The Courage Party. We got a few odd looks from the waiters and a few tears on our plates, but most importantly we got to reopen a conversation that had been shut for too long. 

The Courage Party falls somewhere between a graphic novel and a children’s “chapter book”. It tells the true story of a child, Danielle, who is sexually assaulted and all of the actions she takes after the assault to combat and heal after experiencing the crime that was committed against her. In her story, she is seen as a “crime fighter” and not as a “victim” or a “survivor.” Her community celebrates her bravery by throwing her a “Courage Party,” Which is really something every crime-fighter deserves. 

You might be thinking “that’s some heavy stuff, why would someone write about that? And why would you volunteer to write about them writing about it???” Because the topic of sexual assault should be normalized as the violent crime that it is. So when a child goes through something as painful and traumatic as sexual assault, they know that it is:

  1. A crime
  2. Not their fault 
  3. DEFINITELY not something they should feel ashamed of. 

I want people to feel confident in reporting the crime, sharing their stories, and finding good support systems. There is no space to ask for help when you’re stuck in silence. 

Before I begin the actual review, I think it’s important for you to have context to why my opinions may be the way they are.This review will be from a very particular and connected perspective, as I have personal experience with sexual assault. Reading Danielle’s story encouraged me to open up my feelings and the conversation surrounding my experience again, so as to start clearing out some of the residual shame. Because there’s no time to be ashamed when you tried your best to fight some crime. 

When I was 9, I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a member of what, at that time, was my family. Luckily my mom was a “good grownup” (as Joyce calls trustworthy adults in the book) and she immediately sprang to action. Unfortunately, the system is not always perfect and after months of legal struggle, I ended up living once again with my abuser. At this point in my life, I look back on that time period and wish I had more resources in knowing how to speak up for myself. But I have to remind myself,  and anybody else, that it’s never too late to do some healing work, and now as an adult, after reading Courage Party, I’m ready to talk about it again.

So why is Courage Party is so important to me? Why should it be important to you?

If this book had been on the shelf when I was a child, I would’ve been able to see that I could empower myself in the situation, and be in control of what happened after I reported it. If my parents had read this book aloud to me as a child, maybe they would’ve recognized what was happening and stepped in sooner. From the perspective of someone who has been in Danielle’s shoes, this book has the ability to not only show children they have the ability to have a sense of control in the legalities after the assault, but also has the power to retract the shame that society connects not only to the perpetrators of this crime, but also the survivors (or, as Danielle calls us, crime fighters). 

To the people who I hope will read this book, the children and their parents together, I know a lot of Danielle’s internal monologue may seem far fetched. It may be shaken off as ‘just a kid thing’ or something silly and added for effect. But I want you to know, her thought process during the assault gave me the ability, now as an adult,  to be able to express and identify how I felt at the age of nine. Joyce and Danielle took all of the thoughts I was ashamed of having and put them on the page in a non-judgmental way. For example, the attention during the grooming process of the assault feeling simultaneously good and uncomfortable. You want to be loved by the person who has the upper hand. You want to be special in their eyes. That feeling is seen as so shameful and never to be spoken of, not even to therapists and caseworkers. There was an aspect to these feelings that I didn’t recognize was helping me invalidate my own trauma. Joyce normalized all of these feelings by putting them in public, not just behind a closed door with a therapist. 

This book will be different for adults who can identify with Danielle, though it was written for children who have been through this kind of violence,  I strongly suggest for the adults who have experienced sexual assault in their past, to flip through it. It was incredible to hear the experience through the narrative of a child who was supported in an ideal way, and given the opportunity to take part in each stage of crime fighting. The feeling will be therapeutic, I promise. 

Aside from my overwhelming support of this project, I did have a couple, more personal, moments of doubt about Courage Party, but they were quickly resolved. At first, there seemed to be a lack of commentary on different types of sexual assault and an overemphasis on “stranger danger.” From the moment Danielle is praised for physically defending herself against her attacker, I felt once again, a sense of invalidation for not defending myself in such a straightforward way. I wanted more representation of different kinds of trauma responses besides just  immediately fighting back. I wanted to see children called “crime-fighters” even if they responded to their assault with a flight, fawn or freeze response. According to the Darkness to Light Organization, 90% of children who have been sexually assaulted know their abuser before the attack and when there is no element of ‘stranger danger’ the fight response is not very common. 

The book quickly redeemed itself in this aspect, including more diverse experiences later on, during the actual Courage Party. When multiple women shared stories of sexual assault from their lives. There was a wide range of responses, outcomes and ages. The best part was all of these older women were finally getting credit for their strength, no matter how they reacted during the assault. This was the part of the book which truly brought me to tears, I felt like I was having my own, better late than never, courage party. 

Besides just validation of strength from the close community, I was shocked at how well the legal processes went for Danielle. I was overjoyed for Danielle, it’s not how the system usually works. From the first interaction she had with law enforcement to the trial, every adult seemed kind and supportive and helped her advocate for herself each step of the way. 

It was great to hear it worked out for her.

For me personally, my case never went to court. It was as if the whole Judicial system wanted to “sweep  it under the rug.” 

So of course, reading Courage Party, there was a disconnect from what I experienced as my reality. That’s when I realized that this book isn’t necessarily written keeping me, or other adults like me, in mind.

This is written for kids who need help working through sexual assault in the present moment. It’s for children who need the extra support to be able to speak up, and it’s for parents to learn how to be supportive in all the best ways. Danielle’s story is the perfect conduit for getting this through to them. This is not just a storybook, it is a how-to book that holds more weight than anything else on the shelf. Joyce, Danielle, and Gerta want to show children the best things to do in these situations, we want them to fight back, we want them to tell a trusted adult right away, and we want them to trust that law enforcement will in fact help, when you ask for it. We want kids to feel empowered and be able to take back the control they lost. Though it may not always work out as simply as this in reality, it’s important to represent the best-case scenario for children in danger. We want them to kick and scratch, we want them to run to safety. We want them to be able to tell their story as much, or as little as they want. It doesn’t matter that my experience and Danielle’s didn’t align perfectly, this book isn’t about relatability, it’s a guide for self-protection.

On a final note, I would like to address the parents who will say it’s an inappropriate topic for their children; people can come face to face with sexual assault at any age. So instead of leaving our kids confused, scared and unable to identify the violence being inflicted upon them, let’s take age limits of life saving resources and give children the tools and knowledge they need to be able to know that your body belongs to yourself, and you get to choose what you want to do with it. 

So thank you so much to Danielle Batone and Joyce Brabner, for being so powerful. Thank you to Gerta Oparaku for illustrating their story along the way. Thank you to Microcosm for getting this into the world. For representing and emphasizing the strength it takes to be a crime fighter, and using your personal lives to inform and educate the coming generations. I want to end this review with a strong recommendation for families with children to purchase this title, it is important to raise awareness around the topics that bring with them discomfort. Focus on why you feel unable to have an open discussion about sexual assault with your children, question that feeling and response and ask for help from your community. To quote from the “For Grownups’’ section of the book, “In our own way, we had “normalized” something terrible. This didn’t make it okay, but it kept trauma from digging in under her skin and developing like a life-destroying cancer.” Talking about, and releasing the stigma of childhood sexual assault, does not make it okay, or any less horrible, but it does make it less shameful for the people who have experienced it, and most importantly, educates and destigmatizes the crime for the children and families faced with it. It’s time to open up the conversation on sexual assault to everyone who could be, or has been, affected. No more secrets. 

Get your own copy of Courage Party from Microcosm now.

Doing Good by Reading Books

Have a lot of time on your hands suddenly? Need to escape for an hour or six into another world? Seeking creative inspiration at this unexpected social/life turning point?

Books are a magical solution for so many of these things. Here’s how to get your fix of great reading material without going out in public and while supporting the economic future of the book industry—authors, publishers, bookstores, distributors, libraries.

Put your book purchases to work

The worst way to do that is buying books through Amazon. We’ve always said that, and yeah, we have an axe to grind, but also—a book bought through Amazon results in the lowest possible payments to authors and publishers. Amazon has lured MANY publishers to rely on them solely for book sales—and has now completely stopped ordering books… which they’re framing as part of the current crisis, but is part of a disinvestment strategy they began last November. And now… the corporation run by the richest person in the world is now soliciting donations from the public to help pay delivery drivers? No thanks. /end rant.

Anyway, want to maximize every dollar you spend on books? The best ways to do that are the ways the most support authors and independent publishers. Like these many options:

  • Buy books and ebooks directly from the authors/artists themselves—they will get 100% of your dollars
  • Buy books and ebooks directly from the publishers—this ensures the best possible author royalty
  • Support your local independent bookstore—many are still operating with skeleton crews and you can phone in an order or place one online
  • Check out ebooks and audiobooks from your local library—you pay nothing (well, you pay at tax time, now likely delayed…) and it’s good financial support for publishers and authors. Libby is a great, easy-to-use app for this purpose, and many library systems are granting instant library cards if you live in the area
  • is a new force in the market that offers new books at a sustainable discount. They donate 10% of every sale to independent bookstores, and have a 25% affiliate program (which they upped to 30% during the pandemic). (Check out Microcosmnoauts Elly and Lydia’s fiction recs on our Bookshop page.)
  • We’re also still shipping our big selection of books and zines and such from (you can select “pick up in store” shipping and we’ll bring your purchase outside for a no-contact handoff)

Pay it forward

Got enough to read but want to help someone else out with a pile of books?

  • Become a Book Benefactor — nominate someone (including yourself!) to receive a free stack of curated books. And/or just donate money to help make these book wishes come true! This program is run by Danny Caine of Raven Book Store (who also happens to be the author of How to Resist Amazon & Why).
  • Help prisoners get books. Because that enforced isolation just got a lot worse. Microcosm receives book requests from prisons daily. Help us get those books where they’re most needed.

Help out even if you have enough books

  • Got some money to donate and want to get the most economic uplift for your buck? We recommend supporting BINC, aka the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a long-running, effective mutual aid organization that helps booksellers bounce back from unexpected hardships. They’ve long covered unexpected medical bills and helped with rent and utility payments, and they’re primed and ready to respond to the current crisis and its widespread layoffs and closures.
  • Don’t need more books? Get some merch from your favorite bookstore and wear your allegiance proudly! We’re partial to the brilliant designs of Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, NY—bonus, half the proceeds from their new “Stay Safe, Read Books” t-shirt go to BINC!
  • It’s a great time to ask for book recommendations, and share recos and reviews of books you love with your networks online. Let’s start a global conversation about books and never stop!

Stay connected, even without IRL events

  • Participate in Is Press’s virtual Quaranzine Fest! It’s not too late to make some zines to “table” during #quaranzinefest — or just tune in on social media April 4-5 and get ready to discover some great new super-independent reads!
  • Listen in! We especially recommend Our Opinions Are Correct, the excellent podcast of sci fi authors Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz. Keep an eye on Charlie Jane’s twitter feed for even more ways to support indie bookstores.
  • There are so many storytimes on social media and youtube that we can’t even begin to list them all! One option: you can tune into Dr. Faith reading aloud from her own books (or check out the archives) every day from 5-6pm central time on the Microcosm Facebook page.
  • Join fellow introverts to read quietly together but apart at a Silent Book Club virtual meetup.
  • Take an online writing class! Join Microcosm’s publicity champion Lydia in taking Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford’s latest Writing the Other course that starts at the beginning of April.

Want more of an update on how and what Microcosm is doing to ride out the pandemic? Check out our latest news (plus a bunch of affordable bundles of project-ful books).

Microcosm is hiring!

UPDATE: The application period has closed for this position. We will discuss and begin contacting applicants throughout March.

Full time at 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227. Job is front of warehouse, helping people get their books and be happy. 

We need someone who can:

• Lift at least 50 pounds

• Demonstrate an exquisite attention to detail (we aim for 99.99% error free shipments)

• Work unsupervised

• Believes 99% in what we do but is confident to identify flaws in the system, ask questions, and bring up their own ideas about how things could be better

• Listen and find solutions that work for everyone involved

• Ability to find the shortest path to the destination

• Show up prepared and work hard for their whole shift

• Locating books and Pull/Pack orders four to five days per week (40-60% of their time)

• Respond to customer service email/phone inquiries five days per week (10-30%)

• Help walk-in customers and receive deliveries two days per week (5-20%)

• Work at least eight weekend events per year, some out of town (10%, we cover travel and lodging)

• Commit to at least two years


• All company profits are distributed to staff in the form of raises and bonuses

• We aim for (and have been exceeding) 20% annual raises 

• Employee ownership program after five years

• Options for paid vacation and professional development training programs

• Flexible hours 2-3 days per week

• Possible to work from home 10-20% of the time

• Access to company credit card for office purchasing includes snacks to share 

• Own voices focus to empower readers to change their lives and the world around them

• Access to owners, management, and other staff for clarification, direction, priorities, continued education, and guidance

No experience needed. Entry level position. Equal opportunity employer. Preference given to former intern and diverse hire. Starts at $14/hour with 90 day trial then $15/hour. Apply by February 29th by completing this application; no resume or cover letter necessary unless you believe that additional details would be helpful.

Meet the Winter 2020 Interns!

Three times a year we welcome interns from all over as part of our internship program. During the start of the year, however, we partner with Bennington College in Vermont to provide an intense six-week internship for students who are looking to learn more about the publishing industry. 

This year, we welcome Veda Carmine-Ritchie, Walter Greene and David Hakas! We asked them a few questions so you could get to know them too. 


Where are you from/where did you grow up?

Veda: Portland, Oregon

Walter: Born in Brooklyn, NYC, raised in Portland, at school in Bennington, Vermont

David: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What are you majoring in? 

Veda: Creative Writing/Dance

Walter: Literature and Philosophy

David: English Literature and Japanese Language

What first interested you in publishing?

Veda: I was interested in publishing, and Microcosm specifically, because working in this environment exposes you to so many amazing pieces of writing by so many different kinds of people. I think bringing an array of voices into the public sphere is incredibly important in our current climate. So not only do I get to read all the time! (swoon!) but I’m also working for a cause I believe in.

Walter: I first became interested in publishing after sitting in on a class for the literary magazine the “Bennington Review” back when I was a prospective student visiting Bennington College for the first time. During that class, I was introduced to the acquisition process and instantly found myself drawn into the critical dialogue that surrounds selecting pieces of writing for publication.

David: To be honest, initially it was the career opportunities. But I’ve found a lot to love since that time.


What do you like best about interning for Microcosm so far?

Veda: I am really enjoying feeling like such a member of the team! Everyone here is amazing to work with and really values your time and opinions. I feel like the work I do here is not only appreciated by others, but something I feel proud of.

Walter: Interning at Microcosm has blown away any of my previous assumptions about what an internship looks like. Since day one, I’ve been met with the respect and responsibility of an employee and have been engaging in meaningful, rewarding work that has provided valuable insight into the world of publishing. Plus everyone here rocks, it’s definitely a no-bullshit environment in the best way possible.

David: I like being able to help people who aren’t experienced writers bring out their best work.

What will you and won’t you miss about Portland when you go back to Vermont?

Veda: I’m going to miss my dog, walking around the city, the pacific ocean and all the coffee shops. Probably not going to miss the clouds though, I want some winter sun!

Walter: I’ll miss the arts and music scene the most. Don’t get me wrong, Bennington College always has performances, lectures, exhibits, and many other events going on, but the arts and music scene is almost entirely contained within the campus. I love being able to travel around Portland and feeling that real sense of “going out” whenever there’s a show or something else happening.

David: I’ll miss being able to walk everywhere. I won’t miss the rain.


Do you have any pets?

Veda: Yes! One chihuahua mix, he was a rescue. Apparently he lived in Hawaii for two years before meeting my family.

Walter: I have one dog, a Portuguese Water Dog named Willa, which is short for Willamette Stormtrooper (my brother and I got her when we were seven and nine). If you look “Portuguese Water Dog” up online you’ll find that they’re classified as working dogs, which clearly no one told that to Willa because she spends all day sleeping.

David: My family has everything from dogs to chickens, but I travel too much to have any myself.

What do you do in your free time?

Veda: I go on adventures with my friends, and if I’m alone, I tend to spend a lot of time in the dance studio, in the library, or home writing poems.

Walter: When I’m not working, I’m either reading, playing guitar, hiking, drinking tea, or roaming the shadow realm.

David: Read a lot and write a lot. If I’m on break, I’ll also watch professional wrestling and play video games with my younger siblings.

What’s one piece of media you recommend to everyone you meet? 

Veda: There’s so much media in the world! I think I’m gonna have to go with the movie Juno, if you haven’t seen it you’re missing out on some prime Micheal Cera and Ellen Page moments.

Walter: While I only found out about it recently, I recommend that anyone involved with music should pick up a copy of She Shreds, a magazine published here in Portland that focuses on women guitarists and bassists. Its articles and artist profiles are fascinating, the graphic design is beautiful, and it has sweet features like guitar gear recommendations based on your astrological sign (I’m a Gemini and this month’s rec was a distortion pedal so I picked up a ProCo Rat)

David: Count Zero by William Gibson, one of my favorite novels and a huge inspiration of mine.

Where can people find you online?

Veda: Follow me on instagram! @callyoutomorrow and if you’re feeling kinda sad, in need of weepy music, check out my spotify @vedsss

Walter: If you’re into it, add me on Instagram @freshprinceofportland

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Veda: I’m really excited for the rest of this internship and I’m really gonna miss this place when I’m back at school!

Interns are a vital part of our team, helping things run smoothly and getting to learn about what goes on behind the curtain of publishing. If you’re interested in joining our team through an internship, applications for the summer quarter are open until March 1, 2020! 

The Microcosm Publishing Annual Money Report: 2019 Edition (with graphs!)

There’s no way around it: our first year returning to self-distributing was an incredible success!

Unbelievably, our 2019 sales went up 55.77% over 2018, making 2019, again, our best year ever! In the past year we’ve also increased staff wages by 38.94%, with more to come!

At the same time, 2019 really taxed and tested us in ways that we haven’t seen before. We are shipping an average of six times as many packages every day as we were when we moved into this building eight years ago. We are receiving six times as many boxes every day as well. All of this leads to the increased need for diligence and refinement as we outgrow old systems. 

Sure, everyone works harder as well and it’s nice to have that acknowledged. 2019 also saw the implementation of the employee ownership program and we now have five owners with more on the way. We also switched our podcast from quarterly to weekly and added a vlogcast version.

As the growth seems constant and endless, we have to stop and ask bigger long-term questions: when will we need to hire another staff person (February?)? When will we give the next round of raises (April!)? These are wonderful problems to discuss and the opposite of our situation eight years ago when the current staff took over the company. 

We are publishing more books than ever (and reprinting more books than ever too!) and most of this year has been spent implementing new systems to use data to make better decisions and where we have the most growth opportunities.

Most important is the constant feedback we receive from our work. We’ve expanded our books to prisoners program as well this year and many people write back, shocked that we responded at all—let alone sent me them a pile of books to read. Seeing readers recommend our books on social media has been flattering but nothing holds a candle to someone spilling their guts about how much they were singularly impacted in a private letter.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Our total sales for the year were $1.273 million dollars. Here’s what we are selling:

Here are our bestsellers, by dollars:

Expenses this year were also right at $1.27M, partially due to the 38.94% staff raises:

And the real shocker, comparing 2019 to 2018:

And a friendly reminder: While we’re legally a “for-profit” organization, we choose to operate on a break-even basis. This means that when we have profits (which isn’t all the time, but we try), they don’t go into our owners’ yacht fund; they go into staff wages and taking a chance on publishing new books we believe in. Getting to do work we care about every day and put books out there that help people change their lives is way better than a yacht. Which is an important attitude to have in the publishing industry!