Do self-published authors need a contract with themselves?

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly tackle a topic that might sound like a parody at first, but we’re serious: authors who publish their own books, whether they’re going with a publishing service or starting their own publishing house, would do well to consider putting themself under a contract. Here’s why to consider creating a business deal with yourself.

P.S. Did you see that Microcosm is hiring? Come join our marketing team!

Microcosm is hiring a marketing specialist! – position closed

We are looking for someone who is excited about books to join our marketing team. If you are a detail-oriented, organized wordsmith who can write sparkling copy, wrangle a spreadsheet, and plan a crowdfunding campaign, please consider applying. The ideal candidate will be able to balance brief bursts of creative brilliance with long, focused bouts of massaging data and timelines. 

Microcosm publishes and distributes reader-oriented, brightly-colored empowering books and zines on a wide range of topics including mental health, punk music, bicycling, gardening, witchcraft, feminism, healthy relationships, travel, cookery, humor, and herbalism. In our marketing department, we combine highly non-traditional methods with publishing industry standards, with successful results—we have grown substantially every year for the past decade. Come grow with us! 

Hours: This is a full-time, 40 hour per week position.

Location: A desk is available in our Portland office if desired, but this position can be fully remote. 

Experience: None required, but some background (professional or otherwise) in writing marketing copy, selling, newsletters, crowdfunding, and/or data management is preferred.

Core job duties: 

  • Wrangling data—keeping it correct, up-to-date, and discoverable
  • Writing copy
  • Building and promoting crowdfunding campaigns
  • Creating and sending newsletter campaigns


  • Enthusiasm to speak and write compellingly about our books and mission
  • Ability to quickly produce good-quality copy about any book in our catalog
  • A nit-picky eye for details and data
  • Ability and willingness to work with topics that may be sensitive to some, including trauma, abuse, recovery, religion and spirituality, various marginalized identities, drugs, anatomy, sexual instruction, and erotica
  • Ability to meet or exceed deadlines without operating in a state of last-minute urgency
  • Ability to stay organized, prioritize between multiple projects, and work independently
  • Strong work ethic and desire to continually learn and improve


  • A history of running successful crowdfunding campaigns
  • Experience sending effective newsletter campaigns
  • Understanding of how to write for each of our primary market channels, including direct-to-consumer, gift, special sales, and trade sales (e.g., how you would handle a newsletter about the same book for readers vs. for hospital gift store buyers)
  • Ability to represent Microcosm at consumer sales events (involves heavy lifting and much extroverting)
  • Management and leadership skills and interest

Pay and benefits

Starting wage is $16.50-$20.50 per hour. Starting pay will depend on location, level of responsibility in previous marketing work, ability to work independently, and management/leadership capacity. 

  • All company profits are distributed to staff in the form of raises and bonuses
  • Paid sick time
  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Remote work option
  • Flexible work hours and time off
  • Employee ownership program after five years
  • Transparent compensation and clear metrics for advancement
  • Meaningful work at a fast-growing company 

To apply:

Application deadline: May 15, 2023

How to think about platform (with Guy LeCharles Gonzalez)

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we’re joined by publishing pundit Guy LeCharles Gonzalez to discuss that important question: does an author need to already be famous (or have x number of social media followers) to publish a book? Guy walks us through the reality of the situation and turns the tables in a refreshing take—should a publisher also have a platform? Lots of marketing chops and unconventional takes for our loyal readers to noodle on here.

How do you make a living as a writer? An interview with Jessie Kwak

Today on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we welcome guest Jessie Kwak, author of several books from Microcosm, most recently including From Dream to Reality: How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer. Jessie shares some of her methods and perspectives, shares what it’s actually like to do this work, and tells us about the event she’s organizing for next year, the Author Alchemy Summit.

Queer Animals! Queer Plants! Queer Fungi, Lichen, and Corals! An interview with the creators

a small dog tries to bite a copy of the coloring book
Bernie engages with an important topic

Our latest publication is a huge, fun coloring book showcasing the wonderous queerness of the natural world: Queer Animals and Plants Coloring Book by Kes Otter Lieffe and illustrated by Anja Van Geert. The finished product just came back from the printer, and it’s gorgeous—and probably going to immediately get banned in 20 states. We’re sure your state congressional leaders would be horrified to learn that beings from bison to herons to lichen are out their living their best lives far outside the gender binary and with sexualities humans can hardly conceive of. All the more reason to learn this science yourself … and color your rage away while you’re at it.

Kes and Anja kindly sent us replies to some questions about how this book came to be and what other queer ecological liberation projects they are up to—safely outside the US for now. Thanks, you two, we need your work now more than ever!

What inspired you to write your book?

We’re both ecologists and have been thinking about the subject of queer ecology for decades. In Kes’s first novel, Margins and Murmurations, there is a scene about a same sex couple of Kestrels (called Bert and Ernie), and a long romantic walk between two characters who are geeking out together about queerness in more-than-human community. That scene inspired several zines, workshops, articles and… Queer Animals and Plants Coloring Book!

Researching, writing (Kes) and illustrating (Anja) for the book has been a huge adventure. We knew there was a lot to learn, but even we were surprised by the sheer beauty of the stories we discovered along the way.

What else have you written?

Kes is a speculative fiction writer and the author of Margins, a trilogy of novels in which marginalised characters take centre stage in powerful resistance movements. She also has a new novel on the way. She has written several short stories and articles and writes from a working-class, chronically ill, transfeminine perspective.

Anja has published some articles on their medium blog on several topics concerning their work as a breathwork practitioner and herbalist.

What’s the best book you read in the last year?

Kes really enjoyed Embassytown, a beautiful and linguistically rich sci fi novel by China Miéville. And of course, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which she can’t recommend enough.

Anja loved exploring the years of experience of no-dig gardener Charles Dowding who shares so abundantly in his books and especially enjoyed Skills for Growing.

What’s next for you?

We are currently deep in the process of writing an accessible science book about queer ecology together. It’s nerdy, political and very exciting! We’re also getting to do some proper science research which is fun.

Kes is putting together a queer ecology podcast, releasing a new novel and a translation of her first one. She also has a lot of seeds to plant before summer arrives.

Anja is setting up a smallholding in the Scottish countryside with their partner Emma, and exploring ways to hold space for queer people as a herbalist and breathwork practitioner.

Where can people find you online?

Kes’s writing, podcast and other projects are at

Anja’s breathwork and herbalism work is at and their medium blog is