2015 Financial Report

Happy new year, everyone!

It’s been 12 months since we reported that 2014 was Microcosm’s best year ever (and not just financially). Well, we are stoked (and relieved) to report that 2015 was even better than that.

Since last January 1, we’ve published 14 books, a box set, and a documentary DVD. We have even more than that lined up for 2016, and our production schedule is full through 2018! This year is a big deal for us in part because it’s the year we got *ahead*—that means that most of the next two years’ books are at a stage where almost nothing will ever have to happen again in a frenzied, typo-laden, overwhelmed rush. We can’t wait to show you what’s coming out next.

We had some big staff changes this year. Tim moved back to sunny LA, and our editor Taylor stepped up to fill his shoes as publicity manager. Erik sallied forth to open a bar/coffeeshop and Thea joined us to direct our sales efforts, and we also hired Cyn (interview coming soon!) to help get our books in more stores.

In addition, we participated in 20 events and 3 author tours (our annual Dinner and Bikes tour, Bob Suren’s Crate Digger tour (actually 2 tours) and Dawson Barrett’s two-part Teenage Rebels tour).

It’s more complicated than it seems like it ought to be to calculate how many books we sold, but our best estimate is that we sold about 120,000 books last year; that’s 328 books a day! No wonder we’re all a little tired.

Here’s a breakdown of our income and expenses for all of 2015, powered by charts:

Our total income for the year was $468,733.33 (a 21% increase from 2014). Here’s a pie chart that shows where that came from. “Z-MC books” means books that we published, whereas “non-Z-MC books” means books we distribute from other publishers. “Other” is mostly the ever-popular Slingshot planners.

2015 microcosm sales 

And here are our expenses. “Z-MC Products” are printing costs for our published books; just plain “Products” includes other publishers’ books that we distribute, blank t-shirts and t-shirt printing, patches, stickers—the cost of any goods we sell. 

2015 microcosm expenses pie chart
  1. Wages: -153,083.01 (49% increase)
  2. Publishing: -127,104.69 (44% increase)
  3. Distribution: -78,037.61 (32% increase)
  4. Shipping: -44,092.71 (24% increase)
  5. Royalties: -31,583.19 (17% increase)
  6. Advertising: -14,203.36 (229% increase)
  7. Supplies & Phone: -12,311.75 (19% decrease)
  8. Building: -9,867.90 (53% decrease)
  9. Commission: -6,073.06 (100% increase) 
  10. Events: -5,938.56 (64% increase)
  11. Meetings: -1,625.70 (100% increase)
  12. Taxes: -1,364.00 
  13. Insurance: -1,183.00
  14. Donations $29,520
  15. Total: $-11,662.14 (yikes, but we’re already making it up)

Among other revelations amongst these numbers, we paid more in wages this year than we did to our printer. That’s a first! 

And here’s a pretty good idea of what 2015 felt like, in rollercoaster format:

chart comparing 2014 and 2015 sales 


A reminder of how we work: While we’re technically set up as a “for-profit” company, we choose to operate on a break-even basis. This means that any time we manage to out-earn our expenses (which we try very hard to do), we put that money back into the company, usually in the form of staff wages and publishing more books—basically everything that went up this year. The publishing industry doesn’t have a lot of extra money floating around, but by taking data and math into consideration in every decision, we’ve carved out a little place in it where we can publish the books that matter most to us and keep them priced affordably. 
Thanks for being along for the ride! We’ll be saying this a lot in the next few months, but 2016 is our 20th year of publishing, and we come to work every day excited that we still get to do this—so thank you for being part of making it work. We can’t wait for the next 20! In the meantime, if you’d like to give us a little boost *and* get 25 books for $50, consider backing our Kickstarter now through January 28th