Halfway between the major media markets of Detroit and Chicago is a region of the Mitten that is now attempting to break into the national literary scene. Leading that charge is Caffeinated Press, a local independent publishing company that will officially open its doors later this summer. The founder of the company is Jason Gillikin, a healthcare professional-turned-writer who sees vast potential in the West Michigan literary scene and wants to bring that potential to a broader stage. Since the formation of the Press last April, it has grown to include 5 board members, 14 editorial staff members, 7 marketing agents, and a cadre of others interested in elevating the literary talent of west Michigan.
Gillikin, who describes himself as an “ethicist by education” who happened upon a career in healthcare analytics, has dabbled in social media, publishing, and blogging, and is interested in the substance of language and culture. He isn’t interested in the vanity of the publishing business and doesn’t want to become a giant in the industry but, rather, wants to gather together a group of hardworking, talented writers and showcase them in the best way possible, with a uniquely West Michigan focus. The Press doesn’t limit itself to one particular genre and accepts submissions from young adult fiction to landscape photography. It also doesn’t bar submissions from non-residents of West Michigan, but asks potential writers to consider what it means to submit a piece to a geographically-specific publication as a non-local.
For those of us out there who want to see our own writing published and on the shelves, Gillikin says there are no excuses– for not submitting it, certainly, nor for not producing it in the first place. Whether you feel you have no time, or your content is not good enough, there is no way to get better other than to force yourself to continue to write. Gillikin also recommends finding a trusted and reliable “beta” reader, someone who can help you work out the kinks, offer feedback, and give you a critique of things you might not notice yourself. He says that outside input is always crucial before submitting your work to a publisher or journal. He also says that you cannot give up on yourself as easily as you’d like to.
Gillkin and the editors of the Press look for elegant vocabulary, good style (he has himself authored his own mini style manual), and, he says, a “sense of totality” or a “holistic quality” that makes the work stand out from other pieces in the same genre. In fiction, Gillikin says that well-rounded, believable characters help identify a strong piece.
Caffeinated Press released its first anthology, Brewed Awakenings, this past March and will be releasing a second volume in October (and every subsequent October). is also beginning to take submissions for the first issue of their new literary journal, The 3288 Review. This will be a quarterly literary journal, publishing West Michigan talent in all genres. This is a good way for writers to begin their publishing journey, and also begin a relationship with an up and coming publishing company like the Press.
Do you have a story you’d like to see published? Want to help Michigan literature push forward? Contact Caffeinated Press today to begin your publishing journey.