Posts By: Joe Biel

Call for Submissions for #ActuallyAutistic zine series

Don’t Be Retarded offers exposition on neurotypicals’ neurophobia and the frequent claim that they are supportive of #ActuallyAutistic people…as long as we act like they do. One reviewer for my book Good Trouble mentioned that she couldn’t believe that I wasn’t part of a radical zine community on the forefront of Autistic theory…so I decided to start one! The inspiration for the title lies in the homocore roots of punk and Don’t Be Gay in the 1980s. Queer punks were told that they would be accepted as soon as they acted like straight people. 
Autism now occupies a similar place in the public consciousness at this moment: no one understands it and The Borg demand our assimilation! If you are interested in contributing, the deadline for the first issue will be Feb 15, 2018. Submissions received after that will appear in future issues. We are mostly interested in your personal narrative, origin story, misconceptions you’ve faced, and aspirations of how you would like the movement to grow. Pretty open forum. 300-2,000 words.
 
Also feel free to submit to our sister publication Your Neurodiverse Friend, which features positively framed advice and narrative from neurodiverse people for the less divergent so we can be seen as real, whole people. Similar schedule/deadlines.
 
email submissions/questions to joe at microcosmpublishing daht com

2017 Money Report (with infographs!)

Happy new year! What a year it’s been. On a personal level, it’s been really hard for a lot of folks, and we’re no exception. 2017 was a year of taking stock, facing tough truths, and returning to priorities. We found ourselves in the position of being able to offer some helpful tools for this, especially Dr. Faith G. Harper’s zines and her book that came out this year, Unf*ck Your Brain and Set Sytes’s humorous but so so true guide to How Not to Kill Yourself. It turns out that a lot of you really, really needed funny, practical mental health guides and getting to connect with many readers about this was a highlight of the year.

Last year we reported that 2016 was Microcosm’s best year yet (and not just financially). Well, we are amazed to be able to let you know that 2017 exceeded that by a whopping 52.48%!

Since last January 1, we’ve published 17 books and dozens of zines as well as adding about 500 titles to our distribution catalog (which we were intending to completely dismantle just a few years ago). This includes a 200,000% increase in witchy books, a subject that had not previously been on our radar but through which our sales team of Jeri Cain and Kristine ably steered us. Despite plans to end our touring program and reduce travel, we ended up doing a record number of events in 2017 too, including a trip to Europe in Aug/Sept! At the same time, our production schedule is booking dates in 2024 and we sent our final Spring, 2018 titles to the printer this morning.

We added some more staff changes this year: Kristine Anstine, former Comics Relief and Last Gasp long-timer came on as major accounts sales manager, Trista Vercher hopped onto our fast-moving wagon to do production, illustration, customer service, and paper pushing. And former star intern Sidnee Grubb will be taking a job here handling all of our precious human resources, sales, operations management, and making us the best Cosm we can be. Her future-husband Ben will also take on a role in our retail store and doing film and photography for us. Oddly, we didn’t lose a single staff person in 2017. We added four more!

We sold about 168,000 books last year; about 460 per day!

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

Our total income for the year was $754,939.94 (a 52.48% increase from 2016). Here’s a pie chart that shows what we’re selling. “Other” is mostly Slingshot planners. Z-MC Books is what we publish.

So as with most years, our bestsellers were our own books. Let’s look at a further breakdown of sales minus expenses of those books:

And here’s the sales figures in order of income, not taking expenses into account:

Unlike previous years, our biggest sellers are brand new and all of the top 10 (except the perennial Make Your Place) are from the past 15 months! Still, sales continue to democratize. In the past we relied on a single title to pay for all of our bills but now we have to rely on every book to bring in even just $5 per month so we can make that difference up in volume.

Lastly, here are our expenses, totaling -$820,034.61 and forcing us to borrow a bit of money. You see, we are growing so fast that we cannot finance it with our book sales alone. This is a wonderful problem to have as we recently learned on Planet Money! And we increased employee wages 19.37%!

We also donated $$59,672.00 (72.59% increase) worth of books to cool organizations! And wow, check out our rollercoaster ride:

And just like we tell you every year: While we’re legally a “for-profit” organization, we choose to operate on a break-even basis. This means that when we have profits (which isn’t all the time, but we try), they don’t go into our owners’ yacht fund; they go into staff wages and taking a chance on publishing new books we believe in. Getting to do work we care about every day and put books out there that help people change their lives is way better than a yacht. Which is an important attitude to have in the publishing industry!

Xerography Debt #42

In times of political upheaval and personal problems, zines can be an outlet for people to examine the world they live in and their place in it, enabling them to form communities and create dialogues with people they might never have reached through traditional means. Of course, while not all zines are about politics and revolution, they all share within them the ability to inspire others to talk, think, and create.

This zine is a collection of reviews by zine writers that was founded to help amplify the voices of people who had largely been marginalized by the mainstream media and to create a safe community for independent thought.

In an age of blogs and tweets, Xerography Debt is a beautiful, earnest anachronism, a publication that seems to come from a different era, but is firmly entrenched in the now. And they want to review your zines in future issues, send to: Davida Gypsy Breier / Glen Arm, MD 21057

How Not To Kill Yourself

Are you inclined to escape the crumminess of everyday life into fantasy worlds? Are you smart and imaginative in a way that isn’t really suited to your surroundings? Are you definitely misunderstood, likely angry, and almost certainly depressed? Set Sytes, hailing from the UK, would prefer you stay alive and sort things out rather than the alternative, thanks. He figures there are better opportunities for you out there and lays it all out in a way that’s compelling, funny, sharp, and useful. This zine (please don’t call it a self-help guide, asks the author) is ultimately about how to be a person in the world. It can be done non-miserably, we promise.

Chocolatology

Chocolatology gives the casual cook dozens of ways to incorporate this stellar ingredient into everyday dishes, and takes intrepid food scientists a step farther, into the art of sourcing beans, making chocolate from scratch, and enjoying 17th Century chocolate concoctions. Unlike many books about chocolate, this one offers a balanced, evidence-based overview of cacao’s health and nutritional value. Chocolatology takes a close look at the chocolate industry and its history, and introduces readers to a variety of trade initiatives and suppliers that are working to improve the lives of cacao growers and their employers.

On the Podcast: Unfuck Your Brain with Dr. Faith Harper

Our brains are doing our best to help us out, but they can be real assholes sometimes. Dr. Faith is here to help! Sometimes it seems like your own brain is messing with you—melting down in the middle of the grocery store, picking fights with your date, getting you addicted to something, or shutting down completely at the worst possible moments. That’s where Dr. Faith’s practice comes in. With humor, patience, and lots of swearing, Unfuck Your Brain shows you the science behind what’s going on in your skull and talks you through the process of retraining your brain to respond appropriately to the non-emergencies of everyday life. If you’re working to deal with old traumas, or if you just want to have a more measured and chill response to situations you face all the time, this book can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together and get your life and brain back.

Unfuck Your Brain

Our brains are doing our best to help us out, but they can be real assholes sometimes. Sometimes it seems like your own brain is out to get you—melting down in the middle of the grocery store, picking fights with your date, getting you addicted to something, or shutting down completely at the worst possible moments. You already told your brain firmly that it isn’t good to do these things. But your brain has a mind of its own. That’s where this book comes in. With humor, patience, and lots of swearing, Dr. Faith shows you the science behind what’s going on in your skull and talks you through the process of retraining your brain to respond appropriately to the non-emergencies of everyday life. If you’re working to deal with old traumas, or if you just want to have a more measured and chill response to situations you face all the time, this book can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together and get your life and brain back. Our brains are doing our best to help us out, but they can be real assholes sometimes. Sometimes it seems like your own brain is out to get you—melting down in the middle of the grocery store, picking fights with your date, getting you addicted to something, or shutting down completely at the worst possible moments. You already told your brain firmly that it isn’t good to do these things. But your brain has a mind of its own. That’s where this book comes in. With humor, patience, and lots of swearing, Dr. Faith shows you the science behind what’s going on in your skull and talks you through the process of retraining your brain to respond appropriately to the non-emergencies of everyday life. If you’re working to deal with old traumas, or if you just want to have a more measured and chill response to situations you face all the time, this book can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together and get your life and brain back.

Cats I’ve Known

From deep friendships to brief encounters, this is the story of the cats in Katie Haegele’s life, or rather the story of her life in relation to the many cats she meets in Philadelphia’s streets, alleys, houses, apartments, and bookstores. Through Haegele’s sharp, wise, and at times hilarious gaze, we see cats for what they truly are: minor deities that mostly ignore the human foibles being played out around them. They accept our offerings with equanimity and occasionally bestow some nice thing on us. Haegele, author of White Elephants and Slip of the Tongue, has a unique and compelling sensibility, and it’s a treat to see the world through her eyes as she shows us all the meanness, weirdness, and vulnerability of humans, against an ever-shifting backdrop of the cats we often take for granted, and who ignore us all democratically in return.

On the Podcast: Corbett Redford, director of Turn it Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

TURN IT AROUND excavates 30 years of the California Bay Area’s prolific punk past, highlighting Berkeley’s landmark 924 Gilman Street music collective and its community of bands, many of which also appeared on the roster of Lookout Records. It features original research and cool tellings of the history of bands like Jawbreaker, Operation Ivy, Green Day, and Rancid with lots of never-before-seen footage as well. Corbett (Bobby Joe Ebola Songbook, Meal Deal with the Devil) has been an entrenched part of this scene for decades and was chosen by Green Day (the executive producers) as the unique individual who could make all of the participants, scene, and fans happy—even though this is his first feature documentary! Aaron Cometbus did the lettering. Iggy Pop did the narrating. Jesse Michaels did the illustration. The film will be playing in Portland on August 3-4 at Cinema 21 and the national theatrical release is happening now! Corbett, Elly, and Joe sat down to talk about trauma, healing, and the importance of having a community to make you greater than yourself.

This is Your Brain on Anxiety

Anxiety …. it’s the worst. Choking, stifling, smothering, tingling, panicking, brain cutting out, bad decisions… You’re a human being, so you know exactly what’s being said here. Dr. Faith lays it all out in her five-minute therapy zine: what anxiety IS (did you know that people wrote about it more in the 1800s than now?), what it’s good for (that’s right, it’s actually a necessary response that helps to keep us alive in bad situations), how to know when it’s gone overboard, and practical tips on how to deal with anxiety when it gets bad. This zine is a lifesaver for panic attacks, breaking out of flight-or-fight-or-freeze responses, and for chronic anxiety. It’s also good for folks who aren’t burdened by anxiety daily but want to cope better with those tough life situations that affect us all. Read this and breathe!