People's Guide to Publishing: Building a Successful, Sustainable, Meaningful Book Business

People's Guide to Publishing: Building a Successful, Sustainable, Meaningful Book Business

by Joe Biel

So, you want to publish books. 

Publishing is an incredibly rewarding yet endlessly complicated profession. This readable, comprehensive, and empowering book serves as a resource and reality check for anyone considering launching a press or publishing a single book. Author Joe Biel draws on 23 years of experience in all parts of operating a small publishing company to teach you the skills of the trade, from distribution, operations, inventory, scheduling, and accounting to development, sales, publicity, and marketing. Readers will come away with the confidence to succeed and a big picture overview of why publishing matters and how to plan and run their business fairly and sustainably. 

This book is equally useful to publishing beginners looking for a realistic overview of the process and for already practicing publishers seeking a deeper understanding of accounting principles, ways to bring their books to new audiences, and how to advance their mission in a changing industry. 


fri 4/20 2:51pm

Joe Biel has a gift for looking at things a little differently. Anyone starting a publishing company or just hoping to publish one book will benefit from his perspective and experience in building Microcosm. They should read this.

thu 3/29 6:52am

Joe Biel clearly explains the mysteries of the publishing industry. He looks at the modern history of the book trade and encourages readers to become part of the current dynamic changes. Old barriers to entry have been lifted and Biel shows how to publish for fun and profit.
I’ve been involved in the book business for about 25 years. It is still very much an apprenticeship industry. With People's Guide to Publishing, Biel offers that training to readers.
As an author, publisher, and distributor, I found People's Guide to Publishing to be a succinct, readable guide to a complicated and ever-changing industry. While it is geared toward novice publishers, the clear explanations of how the book industry works – from choosing a printer to marketing lead times to sales forecasting—makes this book incredibly useful to authors and book people early in their careers.

mon 3/26 8:27am

Joyce Brabner, wife of the late comics writer Harvey Pekar, was the first person who told me I should check out Joe Biel and Microcosm Publishing. As usual Joyce gave very good advice. When I first began talking with him in 2011, one of the first things Joe said to me was that the “underground seemed bigger than the mainstream.” In other words, in his experience, books on unusual, unconventional, controversial, unpredicted or just oddball topics, could be sold in eye-popping numbers to an equally mostly undercover and definitely underserved market of thoughtful but unheeded consumers—a market kind of like him. Joe was right, and he’s spent the last 23 years or connecting directly to those consumers through the publishing program of Microcosm. His new book ‘A People’s Guide to Publishing: Building a Successful, Sustainable, Meaningful Book Business,’ provides a comprehensive look at just to do so by revealing the often seemingly mysterious processes of book publishing in a way seldom seen. He gives methodical explanations in plain language of how the commercial book trade—the Literary Industrial Complex—is structured. He details how the conventional book publishing process works—from acquisition and editing through printing, marketing and foreign rights. But even better, he offers enlightening and useful alternatives to the conventional book publishing process. He’s put together the secret sauce of alternative publishing by showing how the conventional book industry has been transformed by technologies like print on demand production, online retailing, and social media—and how Microcosm Publishing has exploited these changes. Indeed the book is about how he turned his social and cultural passions—by publishing books on sustainable practices, targeting women and minority consumers (black women buy and read more books than any demographic), as well as fringe and underground cultural and social issues—into a fast-growing business platform open to anyone with the passion to publish. Microcosm Publishing has managed to turn the underground into the mainstream, and the underground looks bigger and more exciting with every book Microcosm publishes.

fri 3/9 1:14pm

"Distills decades of industry experience and advice into an approachable guide that encourages innovation, creativity, and connecting directly with your readers. It’s the most empowering text I’ve read on publishing."

mon 2/19 4:43pm

Won with merit; Biel has succeeded in the book business for decades and has built what he has from the ground up. He knows about community, sustainability, niche markets, and taking care of your people. This guide is sure to steer you right.