The Business of Publishing

One of our most frequently asked questions here at Microcosm is something along the lines of: How does publishing work anymore? make a zine!

We have a few ways of answering that. 

Want a big picture look at the state of the industry, Amazon, the Big 5, and where small fry like us can fit in (and thrive)? We’ve got you covered

Or would you prefer brass tacks instructions that you can follow along at home? We have that, too.  

We have it in book form: Joe co-authored Make A Zine, which tells you not just how to lay out your type-written treatises for photocopying and handing out at punk shows, but how to publish books with spines, from editorial nuts to distribution bolts. 

I wrote a blog post a ways back about running a small zine production operation out of my living room and funding it on Kickstarter.

For people who want to take their book publishing enterprise even farther, Joe has an ongoing series, The Business of Publishing, over on my blog from way back in 2014 when we ran separate enterprises. Each post offers an in-depth guide to a new aspect of the industry, geared toward advanced beginners. If you put out a book through CreateSpace and are wondering why you aren’t getting ahead, read this!

There’s remarkably little candid information we’ve found out there about how to publish books in a way that makes economic sense. (Sorry, Smashwords. Sorry, Amazon. You are all sharks, you’re out to screw over authors, readers, and other publishers, and you know it.) 

One refreshing exception came this week from our friend Amelia Greenhall, who wrote this extraordinarily detailed and useful account of founding a financially successful quarterly journal. (A word of caution: She was able to raise her entire first-year operating budget up-front. If that’s not in the cards for you, you may need to be a bit scrappier.)

Another great resource on some elements of the most important but undervalued work that publishers do can be found here. The head of our former distributor, IPG, kicked off an extraordinarily helpful series on “habits of successful independent publishers.” (My favorite part: “They spend a lot of time in bookstores.”