How do you make a living as a writer? An interview with Jessie Kwak

Today on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we welcome guest Jessie Kwak, author of several books from Microcosm, most recently including From Dream to Reality: How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer. Jessie shares some of her methods and perspectives, shares what it’s actually like to do this work, and tells us about the event she’s organizing for next year, the Author Alchemy Summit.

Queer Animals! Queer Plants! Queer Fungi, Lichen, and Corals! An interview with the creators

a small dog tries to bite a copy of the coloring book
Bernie engages with an important topic

Our latest publication is a huge, fun coloring book showcasing the wonderous queerness of the natural world: Queer Animals and Plants Coloring Book by Kes Otter Lieffe and illustrated by Anja Van Geert. The finished product just came back from the printer, and it’s gorgeous—and probably going to immediately get banned in 20 states. We’re sure your state congressional leaders would be horrified to learn that beings from bison to herons to lichen are out their living their best lives far outside the gender binary and with sexualities humans can hardly conceive of. All the more reason to learn this science yourself … and color your rage away while you’re at it.

Kes and Anja kindly sent us replies to some questions about how this book came to be and what other queer ecological liberation projects they are up to—safely outside the US for now. Thanks, you two, we need your work now more than ever!

What inspired you to write your book?

We’re both ecologists and have been thinking about the subject of queer ecology for decades. In Kes’s first novel, Margins and Murmurations, there is a scene about a same sex couple of Kestrels (called Bert and Ernie), and a long romantic walk between two characters who are geeking out together about queerness in more-than-human community. That scene inspired several zines, workshops, articles and… Queer Animals and Plants Coloring Book!

Researching, writing (Kes) and illustrating (Anja) for the book has been a huge adventure. We knew there was a lot to learn, but even we were surprised by the sheer beauty of the stories we discovered along the way.

What else have you written?

Kes is a speculative fiction writer and the author of Margins, a trilogy of novels in which marginalised characters take centre stage in powerful resistance movements. She also has a new novel on the way. She has written several short stories and articles and writes from a working-class, chronically ill, transfeminine perspective.

Anja has published some articles on their medium blog on several topics concerning their work as a breathwork practitioner and herbalist.

What’s the best book you read in the last year?

Kes really enjoyed Embassytown, a beautiful and linguistically rich sci fi novel by China Miéville. And of course, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which she can’t recommend enough.

Anja loved exploring the years of experience of no-dig gardener Charles Dowding who shares so abundantly in his books and especially enjoyed Skills for Growing.

What’s next for you?

We are currently deep in the process of writing an accessible science book about queer ecology together. It’s nerdy, political and very exciting! We’re also getting to do some proper science research which is fun.

Kes is putting together a queer ecology podcast, releasing a new novel and a translation of her first one. She also has a lot of seeds to plant before summer arrives.

Anja is setting up a smallholding in the Scottish countryside with their partner Emma, and exploring ways to hold space for queer people as a herbalist and breathwork practitioner.

Where can people find you online?

Kes’s writing, podcast and other projects are at

Anja’s breathwork and herbalism work is at and their medium blog is

Publishers + Libraries = Love, but How?

Today on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we are joined by guest Guy LeCharles Gonzalez to talk about a topic near to all our hearts: How publishers can better work with and support libraries! Guy works in this exact field and has a lot of great advice and perspective on the joys, challenges, and practical logistics of nurturing a mutually fruitful relationship with library buyers.

How to make lemonade out of book problems

Today on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly somewhat belatedly talk about an incident that happened at a Chicago bookstore over the holidays, where a customer made a huge purchase, then came back to return it all a month later. Those indomitable booksellers turned the situation around in the most charming way possible. Like bookselling, publishing can be economically precarious, and we talk about this and other incidents when seeming disasters can be turned into wins for everyone.

Let’s get honest about publishing: An interview with Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly are joined by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, whose influential publishing industry commentary on blogs and social media has been influenced by years of experience in every part of the book world; as an author, editor, slam poet, marketer, publisher, and more. In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk about the benefits of coming into publishing from an untraditional background, publishers’ tendencies to keep their cards close and why we all want to change that, and plenty of insights and predictions about the current state of the industry.

The History of Miami Hip Hop – an interview with John Cordero

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we interview special guest John Cordero, author of the brand new Microcosm book The History of Miami Hip Hop. John was a teenage hip hop head and graffiti artist who started an underground newspaper, The Cipher, with his friends in the late 90s to chronicle the burgeoning scene around them that was being ignored by mainstream magazines. He drew on his reporting, memories, and interviews with others who were there to bring us this fun and fascinating book, full of photos and vivid events. He joined us for a video interview to talk about the book (and offers some of the best advice about publishing we’ve ever had on the show).