FAQ + Contact
- How do I order something?
- Where's my order?
- I have a store. How do I order your titles wholesale?
- How do your t-shirts fit? Where do they come from?
- How do I return/exchange something?
- Will you distribute my book or zine?
- Do you buy used books?
- I bought an eBook. How do I receive it?
I want to be involved!
- How do I submit manuscripts for publication by Microcosm?
- How can I help?
- How do I volunteer or intern with Microcosm?
I want to know about Microcosm
- How do I obtain licensing or translation rights to one of your titles?
- Why the focus on zines?
- I am from the press or want to help promote Microcosm. Where can I find press about Microcosm, press releases, photos, or hi-res book covers?
- How is your money reinvested and what do you spend your profit on?
- Why do you offer sliding scale pricing?
- Your website seems not to be working. I think there are bugs!
- Do you work with libraries or educators?
Don't see your question above? Send us a note
How do I order something?
Click on the Add to cart button next to the items you want to order. The online ordering system calculates your total (and calculates actual shipping costs) for the order. We ship anywhere in the world. Or you can print and fill out our Microcosm order form. We accept credit card, PayPal, mailed-in check, money order, or well-concealed cash.
Consider signing up for a My Microcosm account as it will organize all of your information in one place! Save your login info so that you can order with it in the future. If you order something that we're out of, we will credit your account—and when you order again, the credit will be automatically applied!
Where's my order?
When contacting us about an order, please wait at least 2 weeks after your order is sent. If it hasn't arrived, please contact us with your name and ref. code (a combination of numbers and letters, like 926db). For international orders, please wait one month after your order is sent—generally all we can tell you is when it was shipped!
You can see the status of your orders on your My Microcosm page if you have an account. You can also check for your order on our online shipping log! Also, please provide an accurate email address in check-out. We email you shipping emails and tracking numbers for tracking your package through the Postal Service.
Most orders are mailed out the day after they are received. However, we may hold an order when we know that new copies of an out-of-stock item will arrive within 2 weeks. While we do our best to keep the site updated, items do go out of stock quickly, so please list alternates!
Orders sometimes get lost in the mail before they get to us or after we ship them. If an order worth less than $20 is lost in the mail, we will replace it on our dime. If a lost order is over $20 and you don't purchase insurance, then we will replace it for half of the total cost plus shipping.↑
I have a store. How do I order your titles wholesale?
Microcosm is a distributor as well as a publisher, and we offer a broad catalog of books and zines from other publishers. Everything in our catalog is available at wholesale pricing.
As long as you meet order minimums (2 of each item, $40 total purchase), you may wholesale directly from us. To do so, sign up for a My Microcosm account. It will keep track of your purchase history and invoices. To find wholesale prices for items, go to any product page (or to your cart) and click on the blue "wholesale" button on the right.
For the books, zines, cards, and posters that we distribute, we offer the best price possible to all wholesale customers. If you need a larger discount on a larger purchase for our own published titles and for sidelines (buttons, t-shirts, patches, stickers, and magnets), get in touch and we'll try to work it out.
If you are a bookstore or trade account, Microcosm-published titles are available through Legato / PGW / Perseus (call 800-788-3123, email, or contact your local PGW rep to order). In the UK, we are distributed by Turnaround.
Here's a catalog of titles published by Microcosm. If you order something that we're out of, we will credit your account—and when you order again, the credit will be automatically applied. After two pre-paid orders, we can offer Net-30 terms (in which you pay 30 days after placing the order). Please specify "Net-30" in the order notes. Items are generally not returnable unless they are damaged or arrangements were made ahead of time.
If you order 20 or more of our titles, you can request one of our free display racks (pictured to the right) to put on your counter. Just include it in your order notes. You can also purchase a pre-pack selection of a certain kind of titles, like the Urban Homesteader display pack, Henry & Glenn's Endless Love pack, Bike Shop pack, Record Store pack, or the Cookbook pack. If you're touring with a band and want to add books and zines to your merch table, we also have a pack for you.↑
How do your t-shirts fit? Where do they come from?
They are "fitted", so they fit around the contours of your body and not like a "box" shirt. If you don't want your shirt to be tight, you should buy it a size larger than normal.
Our X-Small size is a Women's Medium shirt size and typically has the "Medium" crossed out and an XS written on the tag.↑
How do I return/exchange something?
We only accept exchanges if we send the wrong item or if a T-shirt does not fit properly. If we send you the wrong item or an item is missing from your package, get in touch and we'll fix our mistake. If you are exchanging a t-shirt because you ordered the wrong size, ship it back to us and include a $2 handling fee plus the cost of shipping you a new one over to you.
Because of the costs involved, we typically don't accept returns. If you would like to make special arrangements, please email us.↑
Will you distribute my book or zine?
We enjoy hand-done and unique historical, educational, instructive, food-related, and bicycling-related zines. We like zines with information that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere and to learn about things we didn't know we were interested in. Very few of our zines could be considered traditional "magazines." If you are unsure, take a look around our catalog and see if your work would fit in! We sell items mostly through retail orders but we also sell at conferences and on tour. In addition, items may be sold wholesale to stores and distributors.
We do not always respond to submissions that fall outside of our guidelines and while we all still love zines, many other fine operations are doing this and doing it well so we are putting 95% of our effort elsewhere. Sample zines sent to us for distro that don't fit our focus will be forwarded to be reviewed in Xerography Debt. If you want to submit your zine for review in Xerography Debt, send to: Davida Gypsy Breier / PO Box 347 / Glen Arm, MD 21057
If we are unable to pick up your book or zine, it's not a rejection of you the author or even the quality of the work. We just do not believe that we are he best way to reach the right audience for your work. Fortunately, there are more options out there all the time.
Do you buy used books?
I bought an eBook. How do I receive it?
We are working on automating our system. In the meantime, your eBook will be manually emailed to you within 24 hours.↑
How do I submit manuscripts for publication by Microcosm?
Microcosm specializes in nonfiction DIY (Do-It-Yourself) goods that focus on the reader and teach self-empowerment.
We publish books that fit in the following subject areas:
We are especially seeking books right now about the history of the city of Cleveland, dogs, trees of Portland, bicycling, genderqueer romance, witchcraft, comics journalism, sustainable DIY projects, parenting, reproductive rights, mental health, guidebooks, nature, survival, and contributions to the Scene History series. We love books that help us discover interest in a new topic because of the way information is presented. Books with illustrations, photographs, or other strong graphic elements are strongly encouraged.
To pitch a book to Microcosm, use the above "Don't see your question above? Send us a note" form and tell us, in five seconds, what benefit(s) your book offers to a reader and how it is unique from similar titles. Think about why people would buy a book like yours and what your book would do particularly well for the kind of readers who need it.
Don't tell us a summary of your narrative (that comes later) or what you or your friends like about your book. Tell us the practical and emotional payoff for someone reading your book.
This approach will tell us if your book is something that there is room for on the shelf. And if there is, it is publishable!
In order for see if we are a good publisher for you, peruse our catalog and identify three similar titles that we've published in the last two years. If you can do that, it's probably a good fit. If you can't do that, we probably aren't the best place for you, but we wish you the best of luck and might be able to refer you elsewhere!
People of color and transgender or gender nonconforming people are particularly encouraged to submit, as is anyone whose experiences are not well represented in the publishing world.
It is important to follow our submission guidelines to the letter and to do a comprehensive title analysis, looking for all the other books that would be on the same shelf with yours. If you don't believe there are other books on the shelf, look harder. If there truly are not, then we cannot sell your book. This tells us that you can work with a team and that you've investigated and developed your book properly, just like we have to when pitching it to our distributors and reviewers.
Most importantly, be honest and substantial! We have heard every hollow and meaningless line in a book pitch. We want you to be think about your proposal and deliver something that is uniquely your own after looking at everything that is out there. (Spoiler alert: There are a LOT of books out there)
Here are two sample (successful) pitches:
Yo, Miss is a graphic novel about a year at a second chance high school in New York City. It is similar to On The Books, Mark Twain Was Right, and Invincible Summer and is about Ms. Wilde's classroom at John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy. Check out yomiss.com.
How to Become a Citizen Journalist can be read in an hour and equips you to go out and cover breaking news or a feature on multiple platforms. Similar titles include Action!, Make Your Place and DIY Screenprinting.
In summary, to pitch a book to us, use the above "Don't see your question above? Send us a note" form and:
1) Tell us, in five seconds, what benefit(s) your book offers to a reader and how it's unique from similar titles
2) A list of three similar titles we've recently published
3) Do not send your manuscript. Do not send any other information unless you've recently been featured in national media or have over 10,000 social media followers or have unique qualifications to write this book.
4) Specify if you would like pitch feedback.
How we evaluate book submissions:
There are 4,000 new books published every day so it's vital to know what's out there and be clear about what the heart of your book is. This is called title development. Good title development questions include: What is the thesis of your book that no other books are discussing and no one is thinking about in the same way? How do readers benefit by reading this book? Why would someone buy this book? How many books have you purchased in the past year that are similar to the way that you have envisioned this one? How is your book distinct from similar books that are in print? Have you visited your local bookstores and surveyed their selection? Have you researched similar books on Amazon?
When reviewing a submission, we consider the following criteria. (You don't need to answer these questions, but you may find them helpful to think about as you develop your project idea.)
1) How does this title teach self-empowerment? Does it fit Microcosm’s mission?
2) Will this title consistently exceed minimum sales benchmarks over more than five years? (1,000 copies in first year, halving for each consecutive year)
3) How is this title notably different from existing work on the same shelf?
4) Do we expect this title to turn a profit for Microcosm and pay royalties to the author?
5) Is this work of particular merit? Why?
6) Is there an identifiable and reachable audience of at least 5,000 people who will buy at least 3,000 books?
7) Does this book challenge popular narratives about the subject?
8) Will the author be cooperative and hardworking towards mutual goals?
9) Have the competitive titles sold at least 3,000 copies in Bookscan?
10) Does the market allow U.S. based printing and production costs at competitive pricing to the comps?
11) Does this book fit our core competencies? Does it fit on a shelf where Microcosm has existing recent work and is a known entity?
We do not always respond to submissions that fall outside of our guidelines.
Occasionally, book ideas are submitted that fit most of our criteria but it isn't clear if we can sell enough to justify publication. In some of these cases, we may ask to work with you to publish your idea as a zine or series of zines. Our bestselling zines typically become books, and it's a win-win-win situation for the author, the publisher, and the readers.
If we are not able to publish your work, it's not a rejection of you, the author, or even the quality of the work. It is likely that it just falls outside of our editorial guidelines and we know from experience that we are not the right place to be able to get your work to an audience. Best of luck to you and keep on doing what matters to you!↑
How can I help?
BFF Program: Like a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) share that gives farmers a guarantee before their crops are harvested, our BFF's help us by paying upfront for their zines and books! Publishing our titles means we pay the printing costs before any books are sold, so every BFF gives us peace of mind. Plus, it's awesome for people to get mailed something new every month of the subscription! Check out the BFF program here.
Sliding Scale Pricing: The standby of DIY venues, museums, and house shows—pay-what-you-can prices allow people to give within their means. We don't know of any other publisher that does this, but Microcosm offers sliding scale prices for titles we produce! We try to put stuff out for cheap, so extra dollars go a long way to keep our pricing sustainable.
Getting the Word Out: Unlike major book publishers, we don't have a large budget for promotions and we rarely pay for ads. In keeping our books cheap, we almost forgo the luxury of having a promotions department entirely! The cheapest way to help us out is telling folks about Microcosm and distributing catalogs. You can also stay up on what we're doing by subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter.
We don't write grants or push tax-free contributions, so we instead keep things at the grassroots level. We sincerely appreciate any help you all can throw down in any way! To find out more about how our money is spent, check out our 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 financial reports.↑
How do I volunteer or intern with Microcosm?
We are excited that you want to get involved! There's plenty of work to do! If you're interested in volunteering or interning, fill out this form and email it to internship at microcosmpublishing daht com!
Our internships are unpaid. We have three internship positions each quarter: December; March; June; September. We ask for a minimum of 240 hours, with at least 15 hours per week for an internship commitment. We try to leave you with a comprehensive idea of what it's like to work in publishing.
We are not a printer and do not have printing equipment. Our internships do not involve the physical printing of books.
80% of our staff members are hired after internships.
When we have a job opening that we cannot fill with a former intern, we post it publicly on our blog. We do not accept resumes for unannounced job postings. Thanks!↑
How do I obtain licensing or translation rights to one of your titles?
We have rights available in most countries and languages for most of our titles. We employ rights and subrights agents and can share PDF or paper book samples to interested publishers or agents. If you are interested in licensing rights for some of our title(s), please get in touch!↑
Why the focus on zines?
To borrow the words of Chris Landry, "Zines are the best expression of the d.i.y. ethics of the punk rock subculture. While bands can be co-opted into the mainstream and the music scene continues to be male-dominated and increasingly a-political, zines have been keeping it true. Zines take the profit and fame motive out of artistic expression and focus on communication, expression and community for their own sake. Zines are the one truly democratic art form. Zine writers are the most important writers in the world."
To borrow the words of Aaron Cometbus, "You can put out a fanzine and you can reach all kinds of fuckin' people for really cheap and you can do a novel and there's no way that you can get to as many people in the same way. Fanzines are, in a way, the perfect form. You can get your fanzine, if you hustle, to bookstores, record stores, maybe even magazine stands. I've had it on sale at toy stores. You can sell it at shows. It's not at all limited to shows and to punk culture. You can sell a book to a record store but it doesn't cross formats in the same way. So in many ways I think that the fanzine is the ultimate and better than a regular magazine too. It really can appeal to all kinds of people."
I am from the press or want to help promote Microcosm. Where can I find press about Microcosm, press releases, photos, or hi-res book covers?
How is your money reinvested and what do you spend your profit on?
Every dollar you spend on our work goes back into the organization and new publishing projects. We choose not to be a 501(c)3 because such an organization requires outside management. Publishing is not the profitable industry that it once was and we feel like the most can be done by putting our ethics ahead of our finances. We pay ourselves starting at $12-17 an hour and receive raises as we can afford it.
As a result, Microcosm doesn't have the ethical quandaries that for-profit companies go through to make money to please owners or shareholders. We have no financial backers, parent company, investors, or shadow partners. All of our money is raised the old fashioned way—by people who support our books!
This project was built on the hard work of everyone who orders from us, volunteered here, or stuck around for gainful employment. We wouldn't be where we are today without you.↑
Why do you offer sliding scale pricing?
Part of Microcosm's mission statement is to empower people through the information and resources we provide. One obvious way that people are disenfranchised is by a lack of money. Some people exist on a small budget to focus on activities that they deem vital—like radical activism. Others are caught up in institutional poverty and have no choice in the matter. As a way of catering to these circumstances, we've always offered our titles at the lowest prices possible. And over the last fifteen years we've had many of our own financial hardships. Many people have suggested that since our prices are so low, raising our prices would be an obvious way to solve our problem. So we've come to a compromise—the sliding scale pricing structure. You determine what you can afford to pay for the items that we publish. As a result, we are able to pay royalties to our authors, offer lower prices to those who cannot afford as much as they'd like, and continue to serve our mission statement of making new materials available at the lowest prices possible.↑
Your website seems not to be working. I think there are bugs!
Our website is tested and coded for Mozilla Firefox, which we recommend for web browsing. It's faster, less buggy, safer, and more frequently updated than Internet Explorer. Our site should also work well on Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Opera.
New bugs do sometimes appear on our site and it's best to report them. Nate, our web genius, will thank you. He hates bugs and loves clean, well-functioning things.↑
Do you work with libraries or educators?
We do! Many libraries and educators order from us already. For libraries, we're happy to set up NET-30 terms for your orders, or contact our sales representative about setting up a standing order. If you're an educator who would like to use our published title as a text, contact us to arrange a desk copy!↑