Monthly Archives: January 2017

On the Podcast: Kate Berube, children’s author and illustrator

Today on the podcast, we talk through Kate’s journey of sixteen years to become a children’s illustrator and author. We discuss about racism, her time working for Trump, her current resistance to Trump, what she went through to get published, and share many tips for combating depression, writer’s block, and hard days in general.

Things That Help

Living in the margins of a culture she never felt comfortable in, Cindy Crabb touches on her experiences with feminism, girl-gangs, abuse, and gender identity. With stories, essays, interviews, and more, Cindy writes with fierce honesty and compassion, exploring subjects like consent, abortion, death, self-image, shyness, identity, and anarchism—embracing the complexities of each, finding her anger, her voice, and the things that help in her struggles with addiction, mental health, and intense loss. Along the way she travels the world, helps start a women and transgender health center, and fights against the social norms that made her feel so trapped.

Fix Your Clothes

Ever had to say goodbye to a favorite item of clothing because of a busted zipper, fallen hem, or gaping hole? Want to save money and the world by not buying new clothes at the time? Concerned about the labor practices of fast fashion? Learn to repair your clothes from this cheerful illustrated guide. Raleigh Briggs, author and illustrator of the bestselling Make Your Place and Make It Last takes us on a mending journey through stocking your supplies, quick fixes, types of knots and stitches, buttons, mending seams, patching holes, darning holes, hemming, fixing zippers, waterproofing canvas, leather, and nylon, and so much more! Raleigh’s style is simple, playful, friendly, fun, and builds your confidence. You can do it!

Indestructible

In her Miami high school Cristy Road valiantly tried to figure out and defend her queer gender identity, Cuban cultural roots, punk rock nature, and mortality. In this graphic novel, Cristy reminds us of the strength and ability of punk youth—for addressing things like rape, homophobia, and misogyny. This is no exception; giving a voice to every frustrated fifteen year old girl under fire from her peers for being queer or butch or punk.

Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules

Modern life calls for modern relationship advice. Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules is a love and dating guidebook that gleans real-life knowledge from smart people in a variety of nontraditional relationships. Instead of telling people how to snag a man and find “true love,” the book sums up what dozens of diverse folks have learned the hard way over time—life advice from people making open relationships work to people who’ve decided they’re never going to have kids—that is helpful to anyone, in any type of relationship. This is an essential, fun, insightful resource whose time has come.

Cyn’s Picks for January

I know I’m not alone in being hella grateful that 2016 is finally over. Because last year was particularly bad, I’m looking forward and not back as much as possible. But I also want to learn and grow in the new year. So here’s to a new year of progress, not purgatory, and happy reading.

 

I’m re-reading and still in love with our new graphic novel, Soviet Daughter. It’s just the right amount of personal narrative, history lesson, and feminist survival story, with wild hand-done art.

 

 

Thing Explainer is currently my favorite gifty book, because I’m kind of in love with infographics, and I love complicated science but am terrible about learning. This makes learning fun again, which is awesome, and there’s a sense of humor to it that I adore.

 

Despite basically being a picture book, Thin Slices of Anxiety is particularly feels-inducing, and filled with a painful amount of truth for anxiety-sufferers, but in a non-threatening adorable style; like a truth-punch to the chest followed by a soothing, prickly hug of camaraderie.

 

Along similar lines, This is your Brain on Anxiety is a great primer on what the fuck is going on when you’re suffering from anxiety, and offers possible relief, while This is Your Brain on Depression gave me a lot more confidence in my understanding of [the many types of] depression, as well as my approaches to solutions. I’ve sent both zines to some of my best friends because it resonates with me so much, and the information is so critical.

And if you’re like me, your best bet is probably to start an emotional support collection with Dr. Faith’s 5-Minute Therapy Superpack.

I’ve mostly avoided the coloring book fad, but The Bicycle Coloring Book: Journey to the End of the World still captures my attention every time I open it. It’s fascinating and bizarre, like a tome of bicycle-themed science fiction dreamscapes, and this is a coloring book worth diving into and exploring.

 

Oh! I almost forgot!

https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/7776My last favorite is the zine-ledger we recently
picked up, Leaflet, that my partner and I make. It is a tracking ledger (like a wine journal or beer diary) for legal cannabis: You write down the details and effects of marijuana strains you try, that way you can actually remember the ones that blow your mind the next time you’re at a dispensary and lost in a menu.

 

 

Honorable Mention: I can’t wait to dig in to “Grief and Other Things Men Gave Me.” Elly described it as “like if you took a feminist essay and the most intense stories of your life, mixed it together and boiled it down to make bullets with,” and I really dig that.

 

Happy reading!

2016 Financial Report

Happy new year, everyone!

It’s been 12 months since we reported that 2015 was Microcosm’s best year ever (and not just financially). Well, we are stoked (and relieved) to report that 2016 was even better than that.

Since last January 1, we’ve published 24 books, 6 zines, a box set, and an LP/book set. We are slowing down a bit for 2017 for the sake of our blood pressure and because we feel that less is more most of the time, especially when you want each title to have time to shine in the light for a bit longer. Nonetheless, our production schedule is filling up through 2022 and we are currently working on 2018 titles with the remainder of this year ready to go to print tomorrow if need be!

We had more big staff changes this year. Taylor moved to the East Coast to go back to school and Cyn was promoted to publicity director. Thea now celebrates her devout love of paperwork at the City of Portland overseeing pavement maintenance and after four years of back and forth, we finally got Jeri Cain Rossi to come on board as sales director. And we also convinced our former interns Sidnee and Tomy to work for us as a production assistant and marketing and editorial assistant, respectively!

In addition, we hit the road for many events and author tours, including our final Dinner and Bikes tours in May and November.

We sold about 142,000 books last year; about 389 per day! So we each took a few days off.

Here’s a breakdown of some math about our year, as powered by charts:

Our total income for the year was $495,110.28 (a 5.6% increase from 2015). Here’s a pie chart that shows where that came from. “Other” is mostly the ever-popular Slingshot planners.

2016 Microcosm sales pie chart

Next, let’s look at our Bestselling Titles of 2016:

2016 Microcosm Best Sellers
You might notice that the Top 3 are from 2008, 2001, and 2013 respectively. One major change in 2016 is that sales are continuing to democratize quite a bit more. We used to have one stand-out bestseller every year that paid all of our bills. That hasn’t happened since 2013 and now every book reliably sells within a certain window. Join us next week for a deeper look into The Microcosm State of the Industry Report!

We are also working on a new chart about where our things are selling. Publishing has changed quite a bit in the past 21 years and book store sales have been flat for a long time so book sales are migrating to different and interesting places. Stay tuned for next year!

And here are our expenses.

2016 microcosm expenses pie chart
  1. Wages: $-164,964.43 (7.76% increase and four people received raises on Jan 1, 2017 with a fifth receiving more hours)
  2. Publishing: $-117,935.75 (7.77% decrease)
  3. Distribution: $-77,085.51 (1.2% decrease)
  4. Shipping: $-59,685.49 (35.4% increase)
  5. Royalties: $-30,592.80 (3.2% decrease, with each book selling fewer copies it takes longer to recoup and more expenses are dispersed into printing and The Bottom Line)
  6. Supplies & Phone: $-14,743.27 (19.7% increase)
  7. Building: $-12,586.59 (27.55% increase)
  8. Advertising: $-9,556.99 (34.6% decrease)
  9. Events: $-5,601.09 (6% decrease)
  10. Website: $-4,791.05 (100% increase)
  11. Taxes: $-1,515.00 (11% increase)
  12. Insurance: $-1,217.00 (2.87% increase)
  13. Meetings: $-1,216.38 (25.2% decrease)
  14. Commission: $-168.17 (97.2% decrease)

We also donated $34,575.00 (17.1% increase) worth of books to awesome causes last year! 

Total Expenses: $529,468.09 for a net loss of $-34,357.81. Fortunately, by utilizing the magic of the 75-day payment window that our credit cards offer free of charge, we can afford all that we are up to and more.

Among other revelations, we sent out way more packages this year than 2015 and were able to upgrade many outdated office computers and phones.

And while it was much more consistent than 2015, we are pretty happy with the 2016 rollercoaster:

chart comparing 2015 to 2016 of Microcosm sales

And just a reminder: While we’re technically set up as a “for-profit” organization, 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—which is the only reason why our wages keep going up in an industry where they are declining overall. 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 2017 is our 21st year of publishing, and we like to think that we are more fun than a beer. 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 years to come! In the meantime, the best ways to support our staff’s wages and keep new books coming down the conveyor belt is to become a BFF and/or support our Kickstarter project for our Spring titles!

Call for Submissions: True Trans Bike Rebel (Taking the Lane #15)

button with a cat riding a bike in a hoodie
Taking the Lane #15 is called True Trans Bike Rebel, and we are looking for nonfiction writing about the experience of being transgender and bicycling. Submissions can be essays or reporting about bicycling, or other topics or stories in which bicycles play a part (or other human-powered transportation).

Submissions can be any length; word count between 500 and 2500 words is ideal for this format. Single-color illustrations and photos are also sought. Please submit your work as an attachment or link in an email to elly at taking the lane dot com. The deadline is July 1, 2017.

All contributors will be paid a share of the net profits from the Kickstarter project used to fund the zine.

Taking the Lane is a feminist bicycle zine published since 2010.