Review: A People’s Guide to Publishing

(This column is posted at, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my

I picked up “A People’s Guide To Publishing” by Joe Biel to get new ideas for my self-publishing.  Biel founded Microcosm Publishing and knows what he’s doing.  The book changed my writing agenda for the next two years, and I’m going to recommend it to all writers.

The idea behind PGTP is how to start a publishing company.  That may seem to be outside the scope of most indie authors, but a good 80% of the advice applies to them as well.  The difference between “publishing company” and “indie author” is more fluid than many realize.

I learned a few things. So let’s take a look at the book.

The author, Biel, speaks from direct experience creating Microcosm Publishing and interactions with other writers and publishers.  While he acknowledges the world today isn’t the world he started in decades ago, the advice stands up because most of it he’s using right now.

Let’s talk about what the book covers (everything, but let’s list the everything).

I was delighted that the book opens about vision.  Author or future publisher, vision matters – what do you believe in and who do you serve?  Your vision helps you decide on concrete steps, so I was thrilled to see it so well explained (I’ve had to do this before).

After vision, the book covers the real nitty-gritty on publishing and not relying directly on Amazon, Ingrahm, etc.  The author believes – and wants you – to engage in actual physical books and control your printing.  Biel considers Amazon Kindle or Ingram’s POD services to be glorified vanity presses that can limit you, even if they have their uses.  He makes a good case, to be honest.

The advice given here surprised me because it made me think in different ways?  Why not make your book a ‘zine at first to test it?  Could you split distribution between a POD service and a regular printer?  Do ebooks really fit your marketing plan?  Could you just print 20 copies of your book and test it at a bookstore?

With the printing and stocking out of the way it’s time selling, marketing, and more.  This advice isn’t particuarly noteworthy, but what stands out is its practicality and explanations of why things work.  He’s very much of the return-audience, focused-effort, long-term outreach school.  This may sound overwhelming, but he even has advice on using limited time and resources.

Finally, the book discusses running your own publishing business.  Some of this may not be relevant to a solo author, but don’t skip it.  You might find out how to budget better, or understand how to protect your IP.  Like the rest of the book, right when you think “this doesn’t apply to me” it ends up applying to you.

As you guessed, this is a very complete book.  It has exercises, checklists, links, and more.  If you need more, Biel and his company have all sorts of books on writing, publishing, and “punkish” entrepreneurship.

I’d like to say more about the book beyond “buy it,” but buy it.  It’s a fantastic guide to self-publishing, even if you don’t want a company so much as a profitable hobby.

What did it do for me?  It helped me re-look at my back catalog, look into doing less e-book only books and more physical-and-e-books, and look at better ways to do print.  My regular readers know I’m planning to shake things up, this book is why.

No more rambling.  Go get it now, read it now, and use the information.  Maybe we can even learn together.

Steven Savage

Steve’s 2/12/2023 Update!

(This column is posted at, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my

All right a quick update!

Disaster Response and Worldbuilding is out!  The nineteenth of my worldbuilding minibooks is available and selling!    This concludes my attempts to write a miniseries within another series – and it worked!

The Agile Writing Book.  Every pre-reader of mine got hammered, so I’m going to edit anyway, and hope they get their opinions in.  I might incorporate feedback after my editor’s feedback.

The new covers should start deploying again in a few weeks.  I just need to set up a schedule of like one or two a week.

I’ll do one more worldbook this year.  Otherwise it’s a pretty open year since more and more I think next year will be a lot of consolidation.

Seventh Sanctum launch is another case of needing “uninterrupted time” which has been in short supply.  Fortunately that should be changing . . . and then I can do some new generators.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Book Roundup February 2023

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I post a roundup of them for interested parties!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:


Take a typical fantasy world – and then let it evolve into the information age.  Welcome to the solar system of Avenoth, where gods use email, demons were banished to a distant planet, and science and sorcery fling people across worlds . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when they’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!
  • A School of Many Futures – The crew is back, and finding having secrets and keeping them isn’t the same thing! Unfortunately they also find “very normal” is a cover for “anything but” . . .


I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!


Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!


  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

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