Why some books get canceled (and is it censorship?)

Sometimes we’re on the sidelines, really looking forward to a book coming out. And then it doesn’t. Why? Is it censorship? Ideological differences? Did the market change? Did the author die? Is it something else? People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly take a look at some of the reasons publishers pull the plug on some books, despite everyone’s intentions and common goals.

What publishers can learn from training their staff

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we talk about one of the most serious aspects of growth—training new people into the publishing industry and your own company’s processes! We talk about making sure people understand the goals and big picture, investing the time it really takes to train and manage someone, giving people space to make mistakes and learn from them, and what you can learn from your new workers and their fresh view of your processes.

Microcosm is hiring in our Portland warehouse!

Microcosm is hiring a full-time (40 hours/week) marketing and warehouse assistant at 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR. This is a hybrid position: half physical labor tasks and half computer-related tasks, ultimately serving our purpose of helping people get their books and be happy. We practice mask-wearing and are set up for social distancing. 

We need someone who can:

• Lift at least 50 pounds

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

• Work with minimal supervision once trained

• Believe 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, learn from mistakes, and find solutions that work for everyone involved

• Show up prepared and work hard for their whole shift

• Do varying manual labor tasks including shipping, shelving, inventory, catalog mailing, making buttons, magnets, patches, and shelving zines and sidelines (50% of their time)

• Enthusiastically write original descriptions of distributed books and populate data fields for them (35% or more of their time) 

• Publicity and outreach functions (15% or more of their time)

• Occasional assistance with data analysis, paperwork, organizational tasks, and accounts payable


• All company profits are distributed to staff in the form of raises and bonuses—we aim for (and have been exceeding) 20% annual raises

• Health insurance after trial period

• Employee ownership program after five years

• Some flexibility in work hours; partial work-from-home if desired

• Meaningful, career-track work at a fast-growing company

Entry-level position. Equal opportunity employer. Preference given to former interns and diverse hires. Starts at $15/hour with 90 day trial then $16/hour.

Apply by filling out this form and this test by June 20th, 2022 and sending both to sidnee@microcosmpublishing.com with the subject line “Portland Application”.

How to receive a pallet of books

This week’s People’s Guide to Publishing podcast tackles one of the more glamorous and high-class aspects of the publishing industry: receiving pallets! This is the good stuff and we know this is what you’re in it for. Watch or listen and Joe and Elly get into the very basics of freight shipping and walk you through the steps of receiving a pallet of books at your warehouse or in front of your house or apartment or whatever hijinks you are up to. We go through how to prepare, what to expect, negotiating with the driver and your possibly miffed neighbors, and what to do if there’s been damage or a mistake.

Can you be your own publishing agent?

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly answer a question from someone who wonders if they can act as their own agent. It’s a legit question, especially since a lot of major publishing houses and imprints (though not all!) only accept agented submissions. How can you get around this requirement? Or should you even try? Only you can decide that, but we have fun discussing the processes and issues involved.

Why does traditional book publishing take so long?

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly answer a frequently asked author question: What is up with that 2+ year timeline in our contract? Once the book is written, why does it take so dang long to get it in bookstores and in front of readers? We tackle this topic with gusto and possibly a tortoise and hare metaphor—watch or listen and find out!

If Animals Could Talk: An Interview with Carla Butwin and Josh Cassidy

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Josh Cassidy and Carla Butwin, the intrepid creators of brand-new Microcosm publication If Animals Could Talk. Hear their amazing story, which spans entire eras of viral social media, two very different publishing houses, and countless foul-mouthed, frank, all-too-human animals. Get into the details of producing a highly-visual book, and contemplate the merits of various editorial styles. This book is a publishing parable of our times. And it’s hilarious.

The Magic of Creative Work: An interview with Katie Haegele and Joe Carlough

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly sat down (like literally, on their couch in Philadelphia) with Kitchen Witch author Katie Haegele and her husband and fellow small-press publisher Joe Carlough to talk about publishing, writing, creativity, community, zines, their creative histories and future directions, and to get to the heart of why creative work is so meaningful to all of us.

Katie’s written tons of articles and zines and Kitchen Witch is her fourth book with Microcosm. Joe C. is the proprietor of Displaced Snail Publications and This & That Tapes. Together they run the East Falls Zine Reading Room. Their work is beautifully-done, full of heart, and affordable—well worth checking out!