Meet the Microcosm Staff!: Erik Spellmeyer, salesman extraordinaire

Microcosm is growing! Our team is working around the clock (yes, our schedules are all over the place!) to bring you the books, zines, t-shirts, patches, and of course the Slingshot Planners that you need to super awesome your life. I’ll be interviewing folks for the blog as they come up for air. Starting with our bespectacled Sales Manager…

Mr. Erik Spellmeyer

erik, man of adventureSo, what do you do here at Microcosm?
Ostensibly, I’m the sales manager, but I feel that Microcosm’s staff all work hard to ensure that each title makes it’s way into the world, so I take credit for my part, as being just another on that team. That being said, in an average week, I’ll do a little line editing, brainstorm with the crew, tend to the needs of our wholesale accounts, research new outlets for our titles, and a considerable amount of emailing and spreadsheeting! 

What’s your background, what path have you followed to get here? Definitely not a straightforward one, I know! 

I have a long background as an on-again off-again student. I finished a degree in Philosophy, but that was scattered amongst a lot of traveling and odd jobs. I grew up in St. Louis where I lived until I was 23. Once I left (in the middle of my schooling) I took off west and made my way through obscure work in Colorado and then up to Oregon. While in Eugene I worked at the brewery Ninkasi until I finally felt compelled to finish my degree. I took my degree to Prague where my wife and I taught English. After a year of that we moved back to Oregon and made Portland home. Microcosm’s ethics and published works suited my ambitions, so Joe Biel got a visit from me, mostly unannounced, we talked for about an hour and I began researching sales outlets pretty much the next day. 

You wrote a book for us! Brew It Yourself! Anything you want to say about that? 

brew it yourselfNot too long after I began being paid as a staff member, Joe asked me to take a look at a manuscript on home brewing. My experience in the brewing industry made me the ideal candidate, so I looked it over. The idea was to fit this title into our DIY series, and as I read on I realized so much was missing. I’d read home brew books before and worked in the industry, and as I compiled notes for the book, I took notice that they were growing beyond the size of the manuscript. Once I related this to Joe, he decided to scratch the original and have me write the book. I now had the chance to write the book I wished I’d had when I began home brewing. I never thought I’d publish a book on beer, but the more I wrote on, I realized the more I had to say on the subject. It was rewarding and fun to use the knowledge I’d accrued while working at Microcosm to guide me along, and in my opinion, it was all over too quickly.

Based on that experience is there any advice you have to offer about writing a book or the publishing process?

The publishing world has many metrics at play to measure up the success of any book. Things I kept in mind all along were, making sure what I was saying maintained a continuity with the title, making sure the book was offering something new to the market while not being genre defining (as new categories are more difficult to market), and most importantly, trying to make the writing playful enough to make the relatively dry information stand out and be remembered. 

Favorites please! Bands, books, philosophers, snacks, things to do on the weekend, things to think about while you’re waiting in line, etc.

As far as music goes, I’m quite old fashioned. I probably listen to more Beethoven than anything else, I still think it’s riveting! But I have a soft spot for old roots reggae, soul and obscure disco, basically I look for production quality and sometimes that takes me to to odd places. Albums like “Tusk” and “Soul Rebels” have little in common other than they are innovative in their production techniques, which always makes me listen. I like to keep Nietzsche by my bed, I find his optimism scathing! It’s typical to find me eating peanut-butter filled pretzels to fuel my need to rock climb and surf, which occupy most of my free time. Mostly when I’m waiting in line, I listen to other people and muse on how funny it would be to have the on-the-spot commentary, like in Annie Hall when Woody Allen pulled in Marshall McLuhan to debunk the pseudo-intellectualisms of the guy in-line in front of him.

Bonus: Erik’s top ten favorite Microcosm books

This is one in a series of interviews with Microcosm workers. The next interview is with editor Taylor Hurley.