The Author Stack
The Author Stack
[SPECIAL ARCHIVE EPISODE] How to build a seven-figure mid-list publisher with Joe Biel

[SPECIAL ARCHIVE EPISODE] How to build a seven-figure mid-list publisher with Joe Biel


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Since this episode, Microcosm has become a multi-seven figure company, and I was able to interview Joe at the precipice of that success. This episode has so much gold about how they set up that monumental growth.

Listen to this episode if you want to learn:

  • How to tell a good publisher from a bad one

  • How to work with a publisher effectively

  • Why every publisher is different

  • How to niche down your writing and publishing for massive success

  • How to 10x your book sales

Joe Biel is the publisher of Microcosm Publishing, and he’s been doing this a long time. In February, he will celebrate his 22nd year in business as an indie publisher. He’s had a lot of success in his day, but I know him from the 1607 backers he accumulated on his recent Kickstarter for Unfuck Your Brain.

I wanted to talk to him about that, publishing, and making your way as a creative. Here’s a bit about his company, Microcosm Publishing, from its site,

Portland's most colorful, authentic, and empowering publishing house and distributor, Microcosm Publishing is a vertically integrated publishing house that equips readers to make positive changes in their lives and in the world around them. Microcosm emphasizes skill-building, showing hidden histories, and fostering creativity through challenging conventional publishing wisdom with books and bookettes about DIY skills, food, bicycling, gender, self-care, and social justice. The then-distro and record label was started by Joe Biel in his bedroom in 1996 and is now among the oldest independent publishing houses in Portland, OR. Microcosm focuses on relating the experiences of what it's like to be a marginalized person. We constantly strive to be recognized for our spirit, creativity, and value. Our books are printed in the U.S. on post-consumer papers while we double the industry standard in our number of women authors.

Microcosm has lived in milk crates, in closets, in a mud room, in a windowless basement, in a church, and under a desk at a major credit card company. We've brought our brightly colored books to infoshops, zine fests, media summits, bicycle conferences, parks, street corners, house shows, dirty bars, all­night coffeeshops, art museums, and every corner of the mainstream where we can clear away a little space to set up shop. We set out to save ourselves from not caring, but out there in the margins we've found communities worth always doing it better for. Now we have contracts instead of handshakes, a warehouse instead of a fanny pack full of zines. We have a staff, we have relationships in the industry that send our books to places we wouldn't have dreamed we could walk into ourselves. We're not as drunk or dirty as we used to be. But still, at heart, we've got this milk crate strapped to the back of a bike and we're riding wildly across town to hand you the book that might just be the one that saves your life. We refuse to die. Get over it.

The Author Stack
The Author Stack
Helping create a sustainable path forward for authors to build businesses that allow them to thrive and lives that light them up inside.