Programming Spotlight: Get Pressed

The Get Pressed series focuses on the business of writing. Optimized for early-career authors (i.e., writers who have little or no experience with traditional publishing), the Get Pressed program covers the basics of author identities, marketing, agents and editors, and literary financing. It’s intended to help people who are unfamiliar with the business side of writing and publishing to gain some traction as they seek publication for the first time.

The dominant perspective is small-press traditional publishing. We will not focus on New York agents or self-publishing skills. You don’t need to be published to understand how publishing works!

This series is facilitated by Jason Gillikin, co-founder and CEO of Caffeinated Press and editor of The 3288 Review. The content is not specific to Caffeinated Press.

Get Pressed occurs on the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Avenue for the Arts at 307 South Division, Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you want to attend a session, please find it on the events calendar and reserve a slot. Sessions generally run between one and two hours. Attendance for each session is capped at 20 people. No cost to participate!

Have questions? Visit the Get Pressed forum (you must be logged in) or use the Contact Us page to reach out. We encourage you to visit the forum to see more specific learning objectives and relevant handouts; this content will be uploaded roughly a week before each scheduled session.

2018 Sessions

Please click the link in the date to visit the event page for that session. From there, you can register to attend.

January 16: Establishing Yourself as a Literary Pro

Build your profile with small presses, lit journals, contests & chapbooks before you look for agents — but beware different business models!

February: (no session)

March 20Author Media Toolkit

Improve your odds of scoring a book deal by building your author platform. In this session, we’ll dive into brand identity, author websites, social-media best practices, mailing lists, give-aways and one-pagers.

This session features headshots with photographer Leigh Ann Cobb.

April 17: Critique Framework

Critiques are the most essential part of growing your craft as a writer and polishing your stories for submission. In this session, we’ll review tried-and-tested guidelines for both giving and receiving a critique, as well as tips for finding a great critique group for your particular length and genre. And we’ll even share a detailed checklist of self-edit questions to help you get ready to share your work with the group!

May 15Common Errors in Grammar, Usage, Style & Voice

Ever wonder what the competition looks like? In this casual conversation, the editors at Caffeinated Press will share (de-identified, of course!) the trends we see in grammar, usage, style and voice errors. You’ll learn WHY these errors are pervasive and what you can do to avoid them. A handful of common foibles tend to occur disproportionally often; by avoiding them, you’ll give editors one less reason to reject your submission.

June 19: Agents, Editors & Publishers — Oh, My!

Agents, editors and publishers each play important roles in the publishing industry — but do you know the differences among them? In this session, we’ll review each of these roles and identify strategies you can use to communicate with them most effectively.

July: (no session)

August 21: Query Boot Camp

If your query package isn’t optimal, agents and editors will almost surely pass on your book, no matter how great it might be. In this session, we’ll review approaches to querying, from finding markets to preparing letters to tracking your submissions. If you enjoy the Write616 Get Rejected series, this session is for you!

September 18: Lifecycle of a Book

Literary sausage-making takes a long time and is often opaque to the outside world. In this session, we’ll demystify the steps and the timeframes that occur between initial query to retirement of a book from the publisher’s backlist.

October 16: Samples, Synopses, Bios & Blurbs

There’s a huge difference among samples, synopses, bios and blurbs. In this session, we’ll review the conventions for each and offer a guided workshop to help you fine-tune your bio and get it reviewed by professional editors.

November 20: Contracts 101

You can’t get published by a traditional press without a contract! In this session, you’ll learn what standard contracting terms mean and how to approach disagreements in line with contractual requirements.

December 18: Perfecting Your Manuscript

Don’t obsess over your manuscript’s formatting. Instead, be great at the content and follow best practices for fonts, margins and spacing. In this session, we’ll review conventional formatting specs and also explore how to use Microsoft Word correctly to format a novel-length document.

A special request: We ask that you visit the calendar item for each session to register. Registration is not mandatory, but if you don’t register, you will not receive handouts and you will not be alerted to last-minute schedule adjustments. We can only accept your self-registration online; we cannot accept registrations by phone or email.

Some registration tips:

  • If you already have an account on, please log in before you register to save yourself some keystrokes.
  • If you don’t have an account, creating one is quick, easy and free. You’ll need to opt-in as part of registration. If you don’t get an email, check your spam folder. Most modern email programs send this kind of message to a spam/bulk folder or a “newsletters” folder automatically.
  • You can register for an event as a guest without creating an account. You’ll get an email inviting you to complete account creation, which you’re free to ignore if you wish. If you do not complete the account sign-up, you cannot log back in to cancel your registration for a session and you cannot access the forum.
  • When you register for a session, you may see the screen appear to scroll for a while (depending on the Web browser you use and the plug-ins you’ve installed). You can safely close out after a few moments. You will receive an email confirming your registration within 30 minutes—check your spam if you don’t get it! If you cannot attend after you reserve your seat, please cancel your session registration.
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Jason Gillikin proudly serves on the board of directors of Write616. He's also co-founder and CEO of Caffeinated Press.

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