"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.
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
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 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:
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)
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
- (22 days)