Monthly Archives: March 2021

Meet the interns! Virtual internship, real-life people

Great news—we’ve got more interns! Meet the newest members of our team: Cassie Birk (she/her) and Kevin Glynn (he/him).

Where are you from/ where did you grow up?

Cassie: Grew up in Vancouver, WA right across the river from Portland.

Kevin: Born and raised in Boston MA, just moved out to Portland. 

What first got you interested in publishing?

Cassie: I’ve been a big reader for as long as I can remember. I got involved in editing with a lit journal while I was in college and never stopped!

Kevin: I’ve always loved reading and writing and was involved in some zines and poetry publications in Boston. I have been pursuing publishing professionally for the last year. 

Cassie is just visiting us from a better, steampunk universe

What’s your favorite Microcosm book/ a Microcosm book you’d really like to read?

Cassie: The Velocipede Races will always be one of my favorites! I’m also proud to be an ex-barista who owns a copy of the Coffeeshop Crushes zine [ed: RIP]. Not a book, but I am excited to get my copy of the Gold Lyre tarot deck.

Kevin: I’ve really enjoyed reading Imprisoned in Prison [working title] while I work on editing it, eye-opening and sad to hear about life in prison during the pandemic.

How’s the pandemic treating you?

Cassie: I feel like I’ve performed a dozen mental backflips. At the start of the pandemic I was trying to graduate college in a basement apartment in Iowa City with a couple jobs in food service. Now, a year later, I’ve moved back to the PNW and I’m just trying to avoid video call burnout. 

Kevin: Definitely been a crazy year, I moved across the country so that’s been stressful but also very exciting. 

Kevin, wearing his environmentalism on his sleeve

Do you have any pets?

Cassie: Not my own, but I have had many other people’s pets to keep me company over that last year. Shout outs to Benny, Lily, Milo, Marcellus, Harley, and Vincent (and their owners, of course).

Kevin: No pets personally but my roommate has a cat named Pax. 

What do you do in your free time?

Cassie: Recently, I’ve been playing lots of DND and baking sourdough bread. I also like listening to music, trying new foods, and going on hikes.

Kevin: I like to hike, read, and play board games! 

What’s one piece of media you’d recommend to anyone and everyone?

Cassie: Anyone who hasn’t listened to Welcome to Nightvale yet, totally should. Weird occult surrealism is translated perfectly to the podcast format, with awesome soundscaping and an entertaining story.

Kevin: Probably any Kurosawa movie, I love old movies and he’s my favorite director. 

Where can people find you online?

Cassie: I’m always scrolling through Twitter @BirkCassie and I’m @cheezh8er on Instagram. 

Kevin: Facebook is my only social media (don’t use it too much though). 

Unf*ck Your Anxiety

New, expanded edition! Anxiety is a survival skill gone haywire. It happens when our brain is working so hard to protect us that it forgets to notice that the danger has passed. It feels like choking, stifling, smothering, tingling, panicking—our brains cut out and we start to make bad decisions—all normal anxiety reactions. Dr. Faith G. Harper, author of the bestselling Unfuck Your Brain and This is Your Brain on Depression packs a ton of knowledge and help into this practical manual. She helps us understand the history and science of anxiety, realize when it’s become a serious problem, know the difference between anxiety and other conditions, and cope with it in the moment as well as addressing it long term.

Microcosm is Seeking a Web Developer to Help us Build Book Publishing Software

3/24/21 Update: We’ve made some edits to this RFP/job description since posting, based on advice from tech-ier heads than ours. If you are applying based on the parameters in our initial posting, your application won’t be penalized.

Work with us to change the world! We are seeking proposals from web developers (or small firms) who can help us create a software service that will help book publishers become more independent. This service will be modeled after the in-house software that has enabled Microcosm to self-distribute and to continue to grow year after year through economic ups and downs without working with Amazon. We just need the technical capacity to bring it to the world.

WorkingLit Developer

Accepting proposals/applications through May 30, 2021

About the product

Microcosm Publishing, an independent book publisher and distributor since 1996, is seeking to contract a developer to produce WorkingLit, a web-based SaaS platform for book publishers.

The goal of WorkingLit is to give small, independent publishers tools to thrive and grow at their own pace and have the most fun, with options for distributing their books as the industry continues to shift towards consolidation. Level one of the platform will help publishers organize their data about books, authors, and customers, manage their accounting and royalty reporting, and understand their sales and potential. Level two enables publishers to reach consumers and retailers directly and cooperate amongst each other. Levels three and four help midsize and larger publishers manage their growth. By giving publishers tools and options to succeed, WorkingLit lowers the bar to entry and makes the publishing industry more inclusive.

The point of WorkingLit is to disrupt industry conventions by giving publishers their own agency back so that they can make the choices that are right for them instead of having those dictated. There is a myth that people just starting out in the book industry “have to” publish on Amazon or work with a trade distributor before they understand the basic timelines, rules, and mechanics of the industry. WorkingLit will lower the barriers to entry into an industry that is 88% white and excludes people who haven’t accessed a college education by providing a platform where small or new publishers can reach retailers.

We are seeking proposals for developing the basic version (level one) by October, 2021. Ideally, we would continue to work with you to build further levels throughout 2022 and beyond.

Phase one:

User Functionality: Basic databasing for

• titles

• orders

• invoicing

• customers

• authors

• expenses

• royalties

• royalty payments.


• Shipping orders

• Accounting

• Royalty reporting.

• Blueprint for including front end e-commerce in next phase. 

Our ideal partner

An individual or small firm who can design and develop a SaaS. We are especially looking for:

  • A team player who loves to collaborate to creatively solve problems, while also able to work independently
  • Experience building complex SAAS applications, including implementation, front and back end, and creating APIs
  • Demonstrated ability to write clear, maintainable code, document as you go, and do test-driven development
  • Experience working closely with non-technical colleagues and management, and in a diverse (including neurodiverse) environment
  • Commitment to the goals of the project (aka, supporting creative business people and sticking it to the billionaires) 
  • Openness to a potential long term contract or employment to oversee continued development and support of this product 
  • People who find themselves underrepresented in tech and/or publishing are especially encouraged to apply

To apply, please provide

  • An email or cover letter about why you want to do this and are qualified
  • Descriptions of at least two projects you have worked on that are substantially similar to this one, including referrals for each
  • Description of how you organize projects and how you set and make milestones
  • Examples of work showing your proficiency in modern frameworks—please elaborate in your proposal
  • Examples of your experience developing secure, scalable applications and deploying applications to the cloud
  • An estimated number of hours and your hourly rate

Location – Remote (we are in Portland, Oregon, you can be anywhere)

Send your application/proposal to by May 30, 2021

Our 100th podcast episode!: Favorite Microcosm Memories

Apparently we’ve been doing this podcast for a while, because it’s our 100th episode! We’re not even close to running out of publishing topics to talk about, but we took a break to share some of our favorite memories from the past 25 years. From charming encounters with readers and authors to those book tour moments where we were (literally) on fire, here are some of Joe and Elly’s very best memories.

We hope you enjoy watching or listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed recording it!

Autism Relationships Handbook

Love, sex, dating, friendship, coworkers, family—social and romantic relationships can be really challenging in a world full of neurotypical expectations. Joe Biel and Dr. Faith bring their personal and clinical experience, respectively, in this guide to navigating the relational world with a rational (and sometimes deeply overwhelmed) brain. Learn to be kind to yourself, ask people on dates, improve your existing relationships, protect yourself from abuse, have healthy conflicts, and more!


A truly inclusive solo sex ed book! Written and illustrated by and for folks with diverse genders and abilities, this fun, affirming, sharply designed guide to masturbation liberation is sure to bring a grin to your face.

What is a fair book royalty?

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly answer a listener question: What is a fair royalty for a publisher to offer to authors for the rights to publish their books? There are a lot of different royalty agreements out there, each one more confusing than the last. Should you pay based on a percent of the cover price? Based on gross sales (ie, the amount the publisher actually gets paid per book sold)? Based on net sales after printing costs? Profit sharing?

Find out how these various options work, the costs and benefits of each, and how certain so-called indie publishing platforms use large numbers to trick you into agreeing to unfair royalty agreements. Listen or watch! And don’t forget to subscribe to hear our newest episode every Thursday.