Writers’ Group Facilitator Training

Write616 is pleased to share a special training program for people who may be called to lead a writers’ group.

The event, scheduled for Sunday, July 14, from 2p to 7p, reviews the core competencies you’ll need to effectively nurture authors and poets on their professional journey. Topics include:

  • Principles of effective literary critique
  • Aligning the group’s purpose to its potential membership
  • Managing difficult personalities
  • Nurturing natural systems of mutual accountability
  • Administering a writers’ group using the GRWT forum system
  • Best practices for peer facilitation

This event is co-sponsored by the Grand River Writing TribeCaffeinated Press & Diction Dude LLC. Your $50 registration fee for this event supports Write616, a non-profit writers’ center serving the writers and readers of West Michigan and beyond.

Snacks provided.

To sign up, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writers-group-facilitator-training-tickets-64093001894. We require registration through EventBrite for this event.

An Evening of Literary Luminescence

Write616 invites you to our event, An Evening of Literary Luminescence, to be held on Wednesday, February 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Eberhard Center at Grand Valley State University.

You’ll learn more about the mission and programs of Write616 and get a sneak peek of our plan to launch a major literary festival in Grand Rapids.

Plus, special guest Linda Nemec Foster will read from The Lake Michigan Mermaid — a 2019 Michigan Notable Book Award honoree — and her other works.

And, of course, you’ll reconnect with old friends in the literary community and build new ones while you enjoy hors d’oeuvres and bask in the soft jazz piano of Robin Connell Trio.

Tickets start at $75 per person. All proceeds fund the Write616 mission of supporting West Michigan authors and poets as they grow their craft and find their voice.

Can’t make it? Please consider offering a one-time gift or a monthly pledge through Patreon. Without your generous contribution, we won’t be able to continue offering the programs that enrich our local literary community.

To ensure we’ve planned appropriately for your attendance, please reserve your ticket by February 20.

Get Pressed! series extended into 2019

Write616 is pleased to announce that the Get Pressed! program will continue in 2019.

Optimized for early-career authors (i.e., writers who have little or no experience with traditional publishing), the Get Pressed series covers the basics of author identities, marketing, agents and editors, and literary financing. 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!

From there, you can register to attend. For 2019, all tickets are managed through Eventbrite. We require registration for 2019 given that venue space is limited. There’s never a cost to attend.

January 15Get Fit to Print

Eager to get your start as a published author but not sure how to begin? In the tradition of a couch-to-5K program, we’ll walk you through a month-by-month strategy to take you from zero to literary hero in one year. Of course, we can’t guarantee you’ll be published, but if you need structure to get you motivated, we’ve got a detailed framework that should help you get off to a great start.

February 19Publisher Q&A

In February, we take a step back from formal education to open the floor to a question-and-answer session about the publishing industry. No topic is off limits (although we will not entertain pitches during this conversation).

March 19: Economics of Publishing

Publishing is a high-cost, low-margin business. Gain valuable insight into the factors weighing into whether a given manuscript might be accepted for contracting, as well as a realistic assessment of the costs and revenues associated with traditional-, self- and vanity-published books.

April 16: Author Networking

Writing might be a solitary art, but being a published author takes a village. In this seminar, we’ll discuss strategies for growing your network and connecting with peer writers, including recommended events to attend and online communities to join. We’ll also share advice for overcoming social anxiety to participate more fully in our community of readers and writers.

May 21: Author Platform

The journey of a thousand readers begins with a single website. Many aspiring authors find rejection because they have no built-in audience — i.e., platform. In this session, we’ll discuss the primary methods of platform building (websites, mailing lists and social media) as well as best practices for both growing and developing a loyal following of readers.

June 18: Author Marketing and Sales

If you attended our April and May sessions, you know how vital it is to build a network and to grow a reader platform. Those steps are prerequisites to the essential author-marketing activities you’ll need to practice every day to grow your revenue as a published writer. In this session, we’ll explore standard marketing tools for promoting a published book, as well as tips for mastering the hand-sell at readings, signings and sales events.

July: (no session)

August 20: Query Packages

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. In addition, we’ll dive into the important differences between long-form fiction, long-form non-fiction, and any short-form content and how those different types of content tend to be evaluated by editors.

September 17Finding Markets

You’ve written the Next Great American Novel. Now what? In this session, we’ll explore the best practices for finding the “right” market for your genre, length and platform — including practical advice for pitching an editor or an agent.

October 15: Professionalism Standards for Emerging Authors

No one talks about it, but — the things you do, or don’t do, as an emerging author directly contribute to whether you land a contract. Or keep one! In this session, we’ll discuss the transition from the “artist” model of creating content to the “supplier” model of working with agents and publishers. We’ll share best practices for follow-ups, dispute resolution and the airing of grievances, as well as explore the red flags that suggest that an emerging author might not be a good cultural fit for the processes and stakeholders of traditional publishing.

November: (no session)

December 17: Self-Edit Strategies

A commercially successful author once mentioned that one of her novels earned 19 separate rounds of editing. Does that sound like too much? After this session, you’ll understand why 19 might be a pretty average sweet spot — and how the first critical 10 rounds, which you perform yourself, lead to consistently tighter stories and more solid construction.

August Craft Events at Write616

Hone your craft during these dog days of summer with one of two upcoming events.

This month’s Sunday Craft Workshop features a three-hour conversation titled Establishing Yourself as a Freelancer. Join us at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 19, at Avenue for the Arts (307 S. Division, Grand Rapids) for this wide-ranging conversation. Facilitator Jason Gillikin — a commercially successful freelance writer and editor, in addition to leading Caffeinated Press — will cover the basics of pursuing a career in freelance writing, including discussing what employers look for, describing what skills you should hone, explaining what resources you’ll need, and sharing considerations about business organization.

Please purchase a ticket for $50 — your ticket will serve as your event registration.

The Get Pressed program for August is our popular Query Boot Camp. This free, two-hour session starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 21, at Avenue for the Arts. We’ll cover the basics of fiction and non-fiction querying, including market identification, letter design and content, submission tracking and follow-ups. This session is ideal for early-career authors eager to hone their querying skills and to understand how editors and agents evaluate the material they submit.

Get Pressed: Common Errors in Grammar, Usage, Style & Voice

Join us on Tuesday, May 15, for the next monthly Get Pressed workshop. May’s session addresses language. You’ll gain insight into the most common errors in grammar, word usage, writing style and narrative voice that plague submissions from early-career authors.

The Get Pressed series is free. It runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at Avenue for the Arts (307 S. Division, Grand Rapids). All we ask is that you register so we know how many to plan for.

Drop-In Writing Hours

Need some time in April to “spring clean” your writer’s portfolio? We’re opening drop-in writing/editing/planning hours at our office, co-located with Caffeinated Press, for you to get stuff done away from the familiar distractions of home.

The doors are open:

  • Tue., 4/10, from 10a to 6p
  • Sat., 4/14, from 2p to 6p
  • Mon., 4/16, from 4p to 8p
  • Thu., 4/19, from 2p to 6p
  • Tue., 4/24, from 4p to 8p
  • Fri., 4/27, from noon to 8p

Visit https://www.caffeinated-press.com/events/ to see the full calendar.

No need to RSVP, and no registration or fees to attend. Just come and go as you please! We offer coffee, water, tea, Wi-Fi, snacks and access to the Write616 library of resource materials and literary journals.

The office is at 3167 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids, 49508—just down the Kalamazoo Avenue hill from the Meijer store at 28th and Kalamazoo. Plenty of on-site free parking and access to The Rapid’s Route 2.

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 write616.org, 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.

Programming Spotlight: Get Rejected

Happy Monday, everyone!

KT here, your Marvelous Maven of Rejection, bringing you a little insight into the world of literary submission. Our new “Get Rejected” series, which brings you monthly writing submission gatherings on the fourth Monday of each month at Common Ground Coffee Shop, is aimed at getting local writers comfortable with sending out their work, and providing seasoned submitters with an accountability group to make the process a little less lonely and a little more fun.

If you’re just starting to get serious as an amateur or hobby writer, or if you’re fresh out of college and looking for the next step, you’ll have become at least a little familiar with the world of literary journals. Or maybe you’re in my boat: you’ve got a few publications under your belt, but you’re still curious about the myriad markets available, with more springing up each day, including a digital menagerie of fantastic online publications that is rapidly beginning to challenge the primacy of traditional print. Maybe you used to send out work years ago, but life interrupted for a while and now you find yourself trying to navigate a vastly different submission landscape.

This series is designed to offer a casual but knowledgeable atmosphere wherein writers at any stage of submitting can come together to support each other. Copies of Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market are provided, as well as online resources listing open calls for submission in all genres. I am happy to act as a mentor to anyone who needs assistance or advice, whether it relates to cover letters, author bios, or the best way to format a submission.

My goal is that this group will continue to grow, giving rise to small critique groups that meet weekly for workshopping, and eventually, to public readings where we celebrate our work – both accepted and rejected. We’ll also be tracking our acceptances and rejections on the Facebook event page, so we can cheer for each other, and also commiserate when journals pass on our beloved pieces.

If you’re reading this, and asking yourself if you’re really ready to submit something, I challenge you to come to our next event. Grab a coffee, get a feel for the group, and even ask a few questions. Bring your laptop and a favorite piece or two just in case. There’s a lot to know about submitting, and it can be hard to find the answers you’re looking for. For instance, a friend of mine didn’t realize she could publish a poem with a journal, and then publish it in her own collection a few years later. As they say, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

There’s also a lot of rejection to slog through before the glow of acceptance falls upon a piece. A poet in my online writer’s group once submitted a single poem seventy-six times before it was enthusiastically accepted by a top tier journal. Another submitted to one particular favorite magazine for twelve straight years before finally seeing her work grace its pages. All that rejection can be discouraging, so it’s up to all of us to raise each others spirits and keep ourselves moving forward.

The point is, we’re all in this together. And everything – even getting rejected – is more fun with friends.

I hope to see you next Monday!

Video Recap: Writers Squared (October, 2017)

The Writers Squared series connects seasoned authors in dialogue about their work. In October, the GLCL hosted its final series of the year with poets Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Eric Torgersen and Marc J. Sheehan. They spoke, specifically, about their experiences with small-press publications.

Couldn’t attend? Never fear; you can watch from the comfort of your own home:

GLCL Writers Squared from Wealthy Theatre on Vimeo.

Thanks to the Community Media Center/Wealthy Theater for the expert videography.

In 2017, the Writers Squared series was supported in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. Phillip Sterling, program director.