Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists by Set Sytes: Because staying alive is a radical act.
A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists by Set Sytes: Because staying alive is a radical act.
A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists by Set Sytes: Because staying alive is a radical act.
484 backers pledged $11,355 to help bring this project to life.

About

How Not To Kill Yourself project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

How Not To Kill Yourself

$11,355

484

"I’m here to save your life. 

Well, not really. I don’t have nearly enough traveling money to get to you all. But I am here to help you save your own life. You’re already fighting your fight. I’m just here to give you a triple-barreled shotgun to fight it with. Or a cat that shoots fireballs. Take your pick."

About the book

In an epically fucked-up world, staying alive is one of the most radical things you can do.

That's why Set Sytes wrote How Not to Kill Yourself: A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists. It is exactly what it sounds like. It's a guide to finding your meaning and purpose that keeps you going on this planet.

 

A spread from the book
A spread from the book

Bonus: It's written in a British accent. And with a British sense of humor. (Though, much to the author's dismay, we have americanized all the spelling and changed "biscuits" to "cookies" and "dressing gown" to "robe." Sorry, Set.) 

Extra bonus: Drawings by the author!

About you, the reader

Is this book for you? Here's another excerpt:

"There are all sorts of reasons people have to kill themselves, because there are all sorts of people. I could not hope to tackle all this, and I would be severely out of my depth if I tried.

I assume, however, that you were drawn to two things. The title, which perhaps suggested something black-humored, something partly tongue-in-cheek, to you. And the subtitle, that targets you specifically (if I’ve got the wrong person, then this book might not be for you, but by all means give it a jolly good go).

So: all sorts of reasons, all sorts of people. This is directed at a certain type of person—a lump category I have called “imaginative pessimists.” I could have also called them (and me) “creative cynics,” or the classic and much maligned “tortured artists.” Or maybe just “weirdos” (I mean that in the nicest way—the best people are at least a little weird). This guide is attempting to cater to your particular sense of self, and I want you to be proud of that self.

I appreciate that a number of the things I say will fall flat to you. After all, you’re a gigantic group of individuals. Every one of you is unique. If I did somehow magic you all into an actual physical group together, within ten minutes two-thirds of you would have wandered off out of sight and the other third would be sitting on the floor determinedly avoiding eye contact. I’d be insane to think I could assume you’re all the same. I just hope that you’ll all get something out of reading this.

And, let me just get this out of the way: you’ve done a fucking good job getting this far. Well done you. I really mean that."

Even more about the book

The author in his natural habitat, as photobombed by the publisher
The author in his natural habitat, as photobombed by the publisher

Like every good book, this one has a good story. It starts with the author, Set Sytes, who took a break from writing novels to type out a short ebook offering everything he'd learned about dragging yourself through and out of depression. He published it online and mostly forgot about it. 

The Dr. Faith Harper, while working on her own book, Unf*ck Your Brain, stumbled across Set's ebook and bought it. She liked it so much that she printed it out and put it in her therapy office's waiting room, from which it promptly disappeared. 

So she figured there was a demand for this sort of thing and sent us her copy. We loved it and left a comment on Set's blog asking if Microcosm could publish it as a zine. 

Months later, we convinced Set that this wasn't some kind of Internet scam, and he agreed—and his zine quickly became a bestseller, at which point we thought we had better turn this into a book in order to reach even more readers. So we did! Set wrote about another third of a book worth of copy, Dr. Faith wrote an introduction, we edited the heck out of it, and now it's ready to go to print.

Which is where you come in. 

About the author 

Set Sytes was born in the misty, Arthurian woods of England and was raised by bears. He grew up learning how to do and be many things at the same time, including slaying monsters, rescuing damsels in distress (who turned out to be neither in distress nor, in fact, damsels), and commanding great armies (the strategy involved inevitably being "everybody charge at the enemy").

As the Real World struck with a calamitous clang, Set was found wandering around in the desolate aftermath, completely uncertain about what was now expected of him. He faffed and stumbled around for an embarassingly long time (sometimes failing quite spectacularly) and then finally turned his hand to the only thing he remembered being any good at as a kid: writing. He was relieved to break the curse of never having finished anything in his life, when he finished his first novel. Which was okay-ish.

Set has since authored many stories of darkness and weirdness and flights of fancy, including the sci-fi/fantasy/western novel WULF, the YA pirate fantasy India Bones and the Ship of the Dead, the thoroughly twisted dystopian thriller Moral Zero, and the fantasy/horror short story collections of Faces in the Dark and Born to be Weird.

Set requests politely that you don't put onions anywhere near his food.

About the publisher

Microcosm's world headquarters, in a tasteful lime
Microcosm's world headquarters, in a tasteful lime

 

Microcosm is headquartered in a bright green building in Portland, Oregon that's bursting at the seams with books, zines, and creative misfits. It was founded by Joe Biel in a closet space off his bedroom in 1996 and has spent the last 22 years figuring stuff out, learning from mistakes, trying to have the most fun, and producing books that help you empower yourself to make the life you need and the world you want.

About the rewards

The main reward is the book itself! How Not to Kill Yourself: A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists by Set Sytes. Every reward level $10 or greater will get a copy of this book.

 If you missed the Kickstarter project for Dr. Faith Harper's new book, Unf*ck Your Brain, you can snag a copy of that here, as well—the $25 reward includes both books.

Here are some of the more book-ful reward levels:

Fantasy Worlds

Take some of the advice in the book and let yourself escape for a while into another world, universe, or dimension. Here's a selection of our published science fiction—which happens to be all feminist and all about bicycles!

  • The Velocipede Races is Emily June Street's steampunkish tale of a young woman in an oppressive society who really just wants to race bicycles
  • Bikes in Space volumes one and two collect fantastical, genre-spanning stories of feminist bicycle sci fi
  • Pedal Zombies is another story collection, with an added undead twist

Real Life Adventure

When you're ready, put down the novel for a bit and pick up a rousing adventure story that might just inspire your own next chapter. 

  • Xtra Tuf #5 is a commercial fisherwoman's tale of a fishing strike on and off the high seas
  • Unsinkable is the story of building a riverboat out of scrap and sailing it down the Mississippi
  • Scam compiles a 90s Miami fan zine of squatting, dumpstering, and train hopping adventures
  • An issue of Railroad Semantics chronicling train hopping and graffiti around the US west
  • And an issue of Dream Whip, poignant hand-written tales of travels, borders, and finely observed details along the way 

Other People's Lives

It's good sometimes to take a break from your own life and check out how someone else is handling theirs, warts and all.

  • On Subbing contains harrowing and heartwarming tales of pinch hitting in public schools
  • The Book Bindery tells what it's like to work in a printing plant
  • The Constant Rider shares stories from daily rides on public transportation
  • An issue of Burn Collector's wry and critical urban observations
  • And some comics: A volume of Nicole George's Invincible Summer diary comics collections
  • Brainfag Forever has scenes from the life of a computer programmer and cartoonist
  • And finally, a volume of Ben Snakepit's punk rock and everyday life diary comics (maybe they'll inspire your own)

Good Grief

When you're feeling dire, do you prefer to dive right into that? We've got a reward level for you, too. This is a selection of the books we've published on the heaviest topics, ranging from grief to torture to genocide to systemic racism. There's plenty of redemption and resilience in each of these, too, but none of them tiptoes around life's pains.

  • Cycletherapy tells stories of bicycling to recover from losses large and small
  • In White Elephants, Katie goes to yard sales with her mom as they mourn her dad
  • Hurt is about the politics of torture
  • Sick chronicles ways people cope with chronic illness
  • Katrina's Sandcastles is an account of teaching in one of the nation's most troubled school systems
  • New Girl Law shows young women rebuilding their country and social rules after genocide
  • Why We Drive is a part-comics, part-written expose of the damage and danger of cars
  • And this little biography of the ultimate fall guy, Lee Harvey Oswald, will certainly not make you feel any less cynical about life or global politics

Set Sytes Superpack

Want to read Set's fiction? For this reward level, you'll get all the books at the Fantasy Worlds level, plus two novels and two short story collections by Set (in some combination of paperback and ebook which we're still working out).

  • What would you do if you woke up on another planet, in somebody else's body, with a gun to your head? WULF is the first book in an exciting, irreverent, sexy, dark and bloody new series for adults, blending science fiction, fantasy, western and adventure genres.
  • INDIA BONES AND THE SHIP OF THE DEAD is the first book in a thrilling new pirate fantasy series for teenagers and adults, featuring the adventurous exploits of the young India Bones in an exotic yet dangerous world as different from our own as it is similar.
  • FACES IN THE DARK is a short collection of paranoid horror stories. Includes the surreal nightmarish novella The Violet Dark.
  • BORN TO BE WEIRD is a short collection of strange fantasy and horror. Includes the story The School of Necromancy, best described as Harry Potter meets Frankenstein and Lovecraft...

Risks and challenges

We've published almost 400 books over 22 years, so we know well that there are always risks and challenges, ranging from misprints to late shipments to arguments. We're good at handling them at this point, and communicating with you as they come up. And if you have any problems with getting your book or figuring out the whole process, you can just let us know.

We are mostly just excited to get these books in your hands. Thank you for finding us! "Keep on choogling," as Set says.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    One amazing book

    A copy of How Not to Kill Yourself, mailed to you.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    234 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Book and zines pack

    A copy of How Not to Kill Yourself and two Five-Minute Therapy zines that we choose for you (they'll be good, we promise).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    53 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Two (or more) copies of the book

    Two copies of How Not to Kill Yourself! (For each additional copy, please add ten bucks each if you're in the US, or 12 bucks each if you're anywhere else in the world).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    23 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Unfuck Your Brain

    How Not to Kill Yourself plus a copy of Dr. Faith Harper's new book, Unfuck Your Brain, mailed to you.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    148 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Fantasy Worlds

    A copy of How Not to Kill Yourself, plus take the advice in the book and let yourself escape into a fantasy world for a few minutes or hours with three anthologies of feminist bicycle science fiction plus the novel The Velocipede Races.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    7 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Real Life Adventure

    A copy of How Not to Kill Yourself and a stack of books full of real adventure stories, including Unsinkable, Scam, Xtra Tuf, and a volume of Railroad Semantics and one of Dream Whip.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Ten copies of HNTKY!

    Ten excellent reasons to stay alive! For epic gift givers, case workers, little free librarians, or your secret leaving-a-book-behind-on-the-bus project.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Other People's Lives

    Get into someone else's head. A copy of How Not to Kill Yourself, plus a bunch of books about other folks' experiences, for your perspective and inspiration. Including On Subbing, The Book Bindery, Constant Rider, and an issue of Burn Collector, plus comics including Snake Pit, Brainfag Forever, and Invincible Summer.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Good Grief

    Want it darker? Pair your copy of How Not to Kill Yourself with a selection of books about grief, loss, and other heavy topics (with a hefty dose of resilience thrown into each one). Books include Cycletherapy, White Elephants, Hurt, Sick, Katrina's Sandcastles, New Girl Law, Why We Drive, and a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Set Sytes Superpack

    You'll get a paperback copy of How Not to Kill Yourself and all the books at the Fantasy Worlds level, plus two of Set's novels and two short story collections (a mix of ebooks and paperbacks!), PLUS Set will draw you a picture and scan it to send to you.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Encouraging Emails

    You'll get a paperback copy of How Not to Kill Yourself, all the books and ebooks at the Set Sytes Superpack level, plus Set will send you an encouraging email once a week for three months after the project. And he'll draw you a picture!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    All the books!

    Get all the books, woohoo! Including How Not to Kill Yourself, Unfuck Your Brain, and all the books offered in the Fantasy Worlds, Real Life Adventure, Other People's Lives, and Good Grief levels.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $275 or more About $275

    All the books + Subscription

    The above set plus everything we publish in the next six months mailed to your door!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (22 days)