When I left my healthcare day job in May 2018, I figured I’d quickly spin up a small business infrastructure and make a stately go of it. I eventually settled on two companies — a healthcare quality consulting agency and an editing-and-publishing shindig called The Diction Dude.
But, oh my. I enjoyed a full-time significant editing contract with a national media corporation, so I didn’t feel a strong sense of urgency to focus on business development at a breakneck pace. Plus, over 2019 my partners and I were slowly winding down Caffeinated Press (even if we weren’t intentional about it until late in the game), which took a considerable amount of time and money. So I rather leisurely worked on several books simultaneously and lightly advanced both Gillikin & Associates, my healthcare consultancy, and Diction Dude LLC.
Then 2020 came, and so did Covid-19 (I likely had it in March and lost roughly six weeks to listless malaise). Then the lockdowns. Then businesses shredded staff and contractors and modified their corporate goals, which adversely affected us self-employed consultant types. This year has been an object lesson in the value of remaining hungry even when you’re surrounded by plenty — for the plenty doesn’t last forever.
Over the last few months, I’ve re-focused to complete a book and to put the finishing touches on The Diction Dude so that this endeavor may finally hit the ground running.
And I’m pleased to say that, at long last, we’re ready to rumble.
Socials and Podcasts and YouTube, Oh My!
Eager to watch from a distance? Follow Diction Dude on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Or for a more sensuous audio-visual experience, check out the weekly podcast. It’s available every Saturday (starting with Episode 002) on Spotify, Stitcher, and Blubrry — with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and iHeartRadio coming within the next few days. That YouTube channel, by the way, includes the video segment of the show (including visuals and sometimes feline cameos), plus monthly livestreams with Patreon supporters.
Hey, you. Yes, you. Wanna be interviewed on the podcast? Drop me a note. Virtual or in-person is fine.
Every Friday, I release a detailed newsletter, The Diction Dude Weekly Update, featuring up-to-the-minute news headlines for the publishing industry plus reader Q&A, craft advice, business acumen insights, and a curated list of publishing and craft opportunities. It’s available through Substack for $7/mo or $70/year, but if you click this link, you’ll get two weeks comped as a try-before-you-buy promo through September 30. Or, check out the inaugural issue for free before you even click that sign-up link.
(Of course, I’ll also post one or two general-interest blog posts on this website. Just scroll to the bottom footer then input your address in the “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” link to get those posts delivered to your inbox. No cost, obligation, or spam.)
Buy the Book
Good news! My book The Diction Dude Essential Guide to Getting Started as a Professional Writer now graces the market. Grab a soft PDF for immediate download or buy a print version knowing that the copies will ship in early-to-mid September. The print version hits Amazon in late August, published through the Lakeshore Technical.
This book features eight chapters. The first identifies the nine most common headwinds bedeviling aspiring writers eager to make their mark. The next focuses on expectations — with ample industry statistics, a lamentation about Amazon, and a series of reflections about what motivates you to write and what that motivation may mean for your publication goals. The third chapter outlines a 12-month “Get Fit to Print” program modeled after a couch-to-5K plan. The fourth chapter discusses book planning, including genre-and-length norms and manuscript formatting. The fifth chapter is all about writing tribes: Why you need them, how to critique well, and how to be critiqued with grace. The sixth chapter lists 26 books I think every writer ought to own, plus some thoughts about reading. The seventh chapter presents “50 informed suggestions” about crafting content intended for commercial publication. The final chapter recapitulates the book’s major themes then offers some targeted ideas for advancing beyond the metaphorical “month 13.”
This volume is the first of a planned 10. The next two are already more than half-way done — The Diction Dude Essential Guide to the Mechanics of Fiction and The Diction Dude Essential Guide to Service Journalism should release before the end of 2020.
With all the confusion and chaos around Covid-19 and the crazy patchwork of open-and-closed jurisdictions around the United States, in-person activities are circumscribed pretty much everywhere. However, I’ve set up a series of two-hour blocks, titled Q&A with a Small-Press Publisher, to serve as an open forum for attendees to ask craft and business questions about the publishing industry.
Registration is $12. Visit the Events page to view the calendar at a glance, or reserve your ticket today through Eventbrite:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/qa-with-a-small-press-publisher-tickets-117189006473
Growing a Community
One of my big themes is that you need a community — a tribe — to thrive as a writer. But not everyone enjoys access to the same tools or networks to make a worthwhile go of it.
Diction Dude offers four Patreon tiers ($3, $5, $10, and $50) that deliver different levels of support. All four levels gain access to a private Discord server and a private community forum. The $10 and $50 patrons also enjoy a private monthly livestream on YouTube and their own carve-out on the forum and Discord. The $50 patrons (the number is limited) gain access to a private online workshop within both the forum and the Discord — a place where I offer frequent engagement and mentoring and accountability partnership, but not as formal as a contracted service.
One cool thing about that forum system: It’s private, but it also offers a versatile infrastructure for forming great virtual critique groups.
To help aspiring writers maintain an even keel across the shoals of publishing, I’ve put together several service packages to help them chart their course and to trim their sails as needed.
- First Chapter Critique: First chapters are hard. They’re often the make-or-break introduction of your work to an editor or agent. Yikes! Before you pay for a full manuscript, an affordable $100 critique package may help. It’ll level-set your expectations about your trajectory and give you practical feedback to help you craft the next iteration of your magnum opus.
- Manuscript Editing: The Diction Dude has edited some great books over the years — including several by Pushcart Prize nominees — and he can edit yours, too. With four levels of intensity (each at a different price-per-word level), you’ll get what you need, furnished by a 20-year veteran of the publishing industry.
- Book Viability Analysis: You’ve written your book, but you keep hitting your head against a wall over all the rejections (or silence) you receive in reply. Your book may be well-written, but it may not be a good fit for the current literary market. Or, the book may be targeted correctly but some aspect of your platform or your query approach may be off. A $250 comprehensive package assesses the viability of your book (both literary and financial) and of your relative attractiveness as a potential author. Take it from someone who’s rejected 95 percent of inbound submissions: It’s the little things that matter. And also the big things. I’ll help you clear the sea of as many mines as possible to improve your odds of success.
- One-on-One Consulting: For $75/hour of dedicated time, the sky’s the limit. Acumen coaching? Website help? Co-writing a tough chapter? Buy as many hour blocks as you need (unused time is refundable) for whatever purpose you require.
Manuscript editing can be pricey and rates are commensurate with industry norms, but we can develop a reasonable payment plan. That’s why a first-page critique as a first step in the editing process makes a lot of sense for most debut novelists.
The Road Ahead
So now that Diction Dude has launched, now what?
Here’s the game plan:
- Post the Weekly Update newsletter every Friday and a new edition of the podcast every Saturday.
- Post one or two craft- and business-focused blog posts on the main site each month.
- Run a monthly YouTube live-stream for Patreon supporters.
- Engage with the forum and Discord.
- Manage the product-and-service portfolio.
- Resume routine stuff like reading emails and paying attention to social media (tasks that may have been neglected during these last few months of finishing my book).
- Continue writing additional books in The Diction Dude Essential Guides series.
But here’s the thing. I can’t do it without you. Will you help me to help aspiring authors succeed? It’s the little things that count — following and amplifying social-media posts. Recommending the Diction Dude to writers in your orbit. Getting involved in the social site, through Patreon.
Your support means the world to me, and to the people whom I will help now and in the years to come. Thank you!