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 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!

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. In 2019, we meet at the Caffeinated Press office at 3167 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids MI  49508. (In 2018, we met at Avenue for the Arts on South Division Avenue). If you want to attend a session, please find it, below, and click the link to confirm your attendance through Eventbrite. Sessions generally run between one and two hours. Attendance for each session is capped at 7 people. No cost to participate!

Have questions? Visit the Get Pressed forum (you must be logged in to this website) 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.

2019 Sessions

Please click the link in the date to visit the event page for that session. 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.


2018 Sessions

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.

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.

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.