As our cultural pendulum swings hard towards “purity” and repressiveness, there’s a real, healing power in unashamed sex positivity. And one of our goals here at Microcosm is to publish books that normalize and celebrate that.
One of our favorite books in this vein is Vic Liu’s 2021 Bang: Masturbation for People of All Genders and Abilities. We love the book’s inclusiveness and its friendly design and tone that allows you to open it anywhere and learn something useful—whether about the history of sex toys, a guide to teaching your kids healthy attitudes and boundaries, or a reminder that you don’t need to feel shame in exploring and enjoying your body.
Even so, we were taken by surprise last fall when it became clear that we were about to sell through the first printing. We put our heads together with Vic and decided to create an expanded new edition instead of simply reprinting the original. Vic lined up some great new content from folks like sensuality teacher Ev’Yan Whitney, Scarleteen founder Heather Corinna, and sex worker and educator Elle Stanger, and the great adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategyand Pleasure Activitism, agreed to write the foreword.
Check out the video below, and also read the blog interview Gwen wrote for us to talk more about her book and its process of coming into the world!
MCP: What inspired you to write your book?
GO: There were a few things that coalesced to inspire me to write the book. I had finished reading Sarah Schulman’s Conflict Is Not Abuse and her discussions of “bad friend” groups and the influence they have on conflicts stuck with me. At the same time, I was supporting many folks with conflicts that were relatively minor – not the sort of thing you might bring to a mediator but enough that they were disruptive in a person’s life. Meanwhile, whenever I was invited to facilitate a workshop on conflict or attend someone else’s workshops or skillbuilding on conflict we were very rarely talking about how to support others in conflict when you’re not a mediator or the parties aren’t really sitting down together to discuss. And amidst all of this, has been the growing awareness of just how much we escalate conflicts up to authorities instead of working within our circles to try to work things out.
What was it like to publish with Microcosm?
Easy peasy! I don’t have a basis of comparison since this is my first book, but communication and transparency have been excellent, which I really appreciate.
What was the submission/query process like for you?
They were pretty straightforward processes. I had an idea for this book, I fleshed it out a bit and submitted the idea. Then, I exchanged some emails with Microcosm and provided a writing sample or two and that was that!
Do you still have your original query to us? Are you willing to share it?
Sure! See below:
This book would benefit the reader by offering a large array of strategies for transforming conflicts without appeals to punitive authority figures.
2. Doing it Better: Conflict resolution and accountability after abuse in leftist communities
3. Unfuck Your Boundaries: Build better relationships through consent, communication, and expressing your needs
My book is unique from these and other titles in that it provides the reader with tools for successfully navigating these struggles as both a participant in a conflict and as a 3rd-party intervener without formal training. Folks would be interested in buying this book when they want help keeping community and relationship intact and don’t have access to formal mediators or facilitators, or cannot afford them. I want to offer this book because I see a deep need for collaboration and conflict transformation skills and believe folks can be empowered to work on these practices even without formal training. I want to offer something that is approachable and easy to pick up and brings relief to those who are in conflict and don’t know where to turn. I have a background in transformative mediation, restorative justice and restorative process facilitation, group decision making facilitation, and a number of communication practices including Motivational Interviewing and NVC. I have a MA in conflict resolution. I volunteer as a mediator and conflict consultant for a number of small organizations including a local low-power radio station and roller derby league. I also offer non-court based mediation to folks by referral for free.
I appreciate your consideration and am open to feedback about this pitch if you have time and willingness to share it. Thank you.
What else have you written?
This is the only book I’ve written but I write newsletters for the organization I work at frequently as well as blog posts. I have some things on Medium.
This is weirdly hard for me to answer because I have an aversion to choosing a favorite or best anything and also because of my poor sense of time but two books I really enjoyed and think I read last year are:
Besides living, working, and trying to be part of community generally here in Rochester, NY, I’m working on some projects combining visuals / illustrations and writing. Right now I’m working on a visual guide or workbook or zine on some conflict practices, trying to turn some information into some easier to digest and use illustrations. I’m also in the early stages of collaborating with a friend in the Netherlands on visuals, maybe a book, on collaborative practices.
Where can people find you online?
I’m not in a ton of places / spaces online but here are a few I can think of:
We had a fascinating conversation about our parallel paths—Friday put out the first almanac the same year Joe started Microcosm, and both were rooted in the early internet—and while the video didn’t record, the audio came through loud and clear. Enjoy!
Set joined us from his home in York, England to talk about creativity, depression, the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, the editorial process, and the life saving power of imagination.
We talked about the question of platform—specifically the idea that authors need to bring a ready-made audience along with their manuscript. It’s not so straightforward, and have fun getting into the weeds about that.
This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly sat down (like literally, on their couch in Philadelphia) with Kitchen Witchauthor Katie Haegele and her husband and fellow small-press publisher Joe Carlough to talk about publishing, writing, creativity, community, zines, their creative histories and future directions, and to get to the heart of why creative work is so meaningful to all of us.
This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast / vlogcast, Joe and Elly consider the term “indie author” and how various forces have tried to co-opt the meaning of independence when it comes to writing and creative work. No punches are pulled as we encourage you to think critically about what you value about independence and whether or not you actually are getting that from the company selling it to you.