This week on the vlogcast, we discuss submission guidelines, what ours look like, how most of the industry operates, and what best practices are both as a publisher and for submitting to publishers.
Our protagonists, Joe Biel and Elly Blue, swashbuckle their way through how recent threat of additional tariffs will affect the publishing industry
In the latest in our vlogcast series, publishers Elly Blue and Joe Biel discuss challenges that they’ve overcome with doing their jobs, being organized, and how workflows interconnect
For many years, new publishers and authors have posed questions to us about distribution. They want to know why distribution is so expensive and exclusive. It’s a much more complicated answer than they were expecting so we’re going to break that out in a weekly video series over the next few months.(more…)
An updated and expanded edition of our hand-illustrated and accessible introduction to the world of bike repair! Through working at both Plan-B Bike Project and French Quarter Bicycles in New Orleans, our co-authors have gathered a wealth of experience to share with would-be bicycle mechanics. The first half of this book is a complete repair manual to get you started on choosing the right bike for you, riding that bike, and fixing it when it breaks down. The second half reprints all four issues of the Chainbreaker zine, whose originals were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.
Juggalos gained the political spotlight in 2017, when thousands of fans marched on Washington, DC to protest their classification by the FBI as a violent gang. Dwarfing the pro-Trump rally at the same time and place, Juggalos proved themselves to be a growing voice of dissent for some of the most neglected parts of the United States. Rock’s reporting casts a light on many contradictions and perils of Juggalodom, sensitively handling questions of gender, health, religion, and what it means to be part of something. Part festival-goer’s journal, part music history, part investigative report, part social commentary, Juggalo Country takes us into the heart of a much-derided and controversial movement and shows us the redemptive power of family and community.
Happy new year!
This is the week! After eight years with a trade distributor we have returned to distributing our books independently in the U.S. We hear from people almost every week that our books are saving their lives, and we feel that we have an obligation to extend that as far and wide as possible. Few events in the history of Microcosm have improved our morale and brought our staff together like this has.
The stress relief as we counted down the days until we were free was worth it alone! And the proof is in the pudding—we’ve had to lay the groundwork for this for the past 18 months. Sales were up 24% in 2018 over 2017, making this, once again, Microcosm’s best year ever. Advance shipments for 2019 are already up 600% by doing it ourselves. It’s been a wild ride.
We constantly get really wonderful feedback on Microcosm’s reborn independence and it seems to be really inspiring to other independent publishers and bookstores. Speaking of, there are 38% more indie bookstores than there were ten years ago! They are also each selling an average of 34% more books!
We took our staff from 12 to 14 in 2018 and experienced many growing pains. We expanded both our warehouse and our offices so everyone has a bit more space and we added several additional storage buildings. Nate Beaty (who will have been with Microcosm for 18 years this July) finished our new software so that we can use our existing database to send our book data to everyone who wants it. This has been a ton of fun and a ton of work to do. Our big surprise for next year is that we hope to be ready to package the software that we have made and hopefully revolutionize our fellow publishers and help give other independents a fighting chance in our industry.
In the past year, we’ve published 29 new books and 52 new zines as well as adding over 1,000 titles to our distribution catalog (which we were intending to completely dismantle in 2016 in favor of publishing). The sharp increase in witchcraft books continues and we are continuing to focus primarily on gift and specialty accounts.
Instead of our previous Dinner & Bikes tours, we now focus on attending conferences and events in other cities and having more time at home. Which is a good thing, because our publishing schedule is filling up through 2025 and we finalize Fall 2019 covers this week.
We sold about 218,500 books last year; that’s about 600 per day!
Here’s a breakdown of some math about our year, with handy charts created by our WorkingLit software:
Our total income for the year was $947,142.77 Here’s what we’re selling:
Here are our bestsellers, by profitability:
And here’s our distributed bestsellers, by net income:
And here are our expenses, totaling $946.292.41. We are again able to afford to finance our own growth and have increased employee wages, with four more people receiving raises this month.
Here’s each month in 2018 compared to 2017:
And a friendly reminder: 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!
Last week Mari Naomi came to Portland for XOXO Fest and we talked and talked and talked. We talked so much that we hit record for the podcast. Publishing, identity, and how to best respond to toxic behavior. Do people who grow up in affluence lead less fulfilling lives? Story at 11.
Bicycle / Race paints an unforgettable picture of Los Angeles—and the United States—from the perspective of two wheels. This is a book of borderlands and intersections, a cautionary tale about the dangers of putting infrastructure before culture, and a coming-of-age story about power and identity. The colonial history of southern California is interwoven through Adonia Lugo’s story of growing up Chicana in Orange County, becoming a bicycle anthropologist, and co-founding Los Angeles’s hallmark open streets cycling event, CicLAvia, along the way. When she takes on racism in the world of national bicycle advocacy in Washington, DC, she finds her voice and heads back to LA to organize the movement for environmental justice in active transportation.
In the tradition of City of Quartz, this book will forever change the way you see Los Angeles, race and class in the United States, and the streets and people around you wherever you live.
Updated with a new edition for 2018 and 50% additional material, This is Portland is a first-hand look at a city that people can’t seem to stop talking about. It’s a guidebook of sorts, but not to restaurants and sightseeing. Instead, Alexander Barrett is your friendly guide to the quirky characters and atmosphere of Portland, Oregon and how fun, beautiful, and ridiculous it can be. With its approachable, often hilarious tone, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about bikes, beards, beers, rain, and everything else important about the city you’ve heard you should like.