The Diction Dude is an Experienced Dude

Thanks for your curiosity about my work as a publisher, author, and editor. This page breaks into the following sections:

Literary Biography

Jason Gillikin is the founder and president of Lakeshore Literary—a small traditional and hybrid Midwestern publisher and specialty book distributor—and Diction Dude, an author-consulting agency. These separate companies, launched in mid 2020, bring a full spectrum of experience to emerging authors eager to hone their craft, find their voice, and join their tribe.

He co-founded Caffeinated Press, which operated between 2014 and 2019. This micro-press, operating with a West Michigan regional focus, published a dozen books, two anthologies, and a dozen issues of The 3288 Review, the in-house journal of arts and letters. Gillikin led corporate strategy and, until 2018, editorial operations for the company.

He served as the final board treasurer of Write616 (formerly The Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters), a non-profit writing center founded to promote, celebrate and advance the literary arts in the Great Lakes region, which operated from 2011 to 2019. He also coordinates a professional writing group called the Grand River Writing Tribe.

Gillikin got his start in the industry as a newspaper columnist, working up the ranks until he earned appointment as editor-in-chief of the Western Herald. The Herald printed as a full- and spot-color broadsheet with an average daily circulation of 12,500.  During his tenure in leadership at the newspaper, he instituted a beat system for the news department and coordinated a comprehensive brand-and-style overhaul of the paper’s visual design. Gillikin was the only editor in the Herald newsroom on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 and had to manage the paper’s initial reaction to that day’s unfolding narrative—a deeply formative professional experience.

He’s freelanced as a writer and editor for several national media corporations, where his content earned more than 4 million distinct impressions on the Web and he coached several hundred general-assignment writers. Major clients include Digital Brands, Demand Media and DotDash. For Demand Media, he advanced through increasingly complex contractor roles until he served as a section expert for eHow Tech, with managing-editor access, until DMS shut down and eventually became Leaf Group. For DotDash, he served as a contract quality editor focused on the,, and verticals.

In 2020 he published his first book, The Diction Dude Essential Guide to Getting Started as a Professional Writer. His other published work includes a personal essay in Christ’s Body, Christ’s Wounds (Cascade Books, 2018), a speculative-fiction novelette in Division by Zero: Double Take (MiFiWriters, 2018), a peer-reviewed entry into the Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods (SAGE Publications, 2008), and a technical essay in America Now (Bedford/St. Martins, 2003). He wrote a back-of-the-mag publisher’s column for each issue of The 3288 Review and he’s self-published several erotica novellas under pseudonym. This work is in addition to his byline and non-byline work as an online service journalist, and his published columns, editorials, and news stories from the Herald.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University, dual-majoring in professional ethics and quantitative political science with minors in history, Latin, and comparative religion. He is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality, a Wilderness First Responder, a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and a licensed Amateur Radio operator.

In his free time, he enjoys scuba diving, backcountry hiking, kayaking, playing butler to his feline overlords, and hosting Vice Lounge Online—a lifestyle podcast about casino gaming, premium cigars and artisanal spirits.

Publisher Activity

From June 2014 until December 2019, Gillikin served as co-founder, board chairman, and CEO of Caffeinated Press, Inc. During its heyday, Caffeinated Press:

  • Published more than a dozen books
  • Published 10 issues of a highly regarded literary journal, The 3288 Review
  • Published two installments of a genre-fiction anthology, Brewed Awakenings
  • Mentored nearly a dozen interns for academic credit through local colleges
  • Taught a series of in-office courses about the publishing industry, to benefit emerging authors

In his leadership role, he oversaw corporate strategy and, for the first few years, acquisitions and editorial operations. The company touched thousands of submissions into its slush pile over the years.

In early 2019, Gillikin stepped away from active Caffeinated Press editorial work to focus on sales and distribution. Although Caffeinated Press closed at the end of 2019, the distribution side—Lakeshore Literary—persists, and in early 2020 LL opened a five-imprint publishing operation to cover the classics, traditional publishing, technical nonfiction, and hybrid publishing. In addition, LL publishes The Lakeshore Review, a thrice-annual literary journal.

Published Works

A selection of Gillikin’s published work includes:

  • Gillikin, Jason. The Diction Dude Essential Guide to the Mechanics of Fiction. Grand Rapids, MI: Lakeshore Technical (2021). [technical nonfiction book]
  • Gillikin, Jason. The Diction Dude Essential Guide to Getting Started as a Professional Writer. Grand Rapids, MI: Lakeshore Technical (2020). [technical nonfiction book]
  • Gillikin, Jason, and Andrew Kopolow and Karen Schrimmer. Code of Ethics for the Healthcare Quality Profession. Chicago, IL: National Association for Healthcare Quality (2018). [technical nonfiction white paper; lead author]
  • Gillikin, Jason. “A Moment of Clarity.” Christ’s Body, Christ’s Wounds: Staying Catholic When You’ve Been Hurt in the Church. Ed. L. Eve Tushnet. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books (2018)[personal essay; creative non-fiction]
  • Gillikin, Jason. “Conversion Therapy.” Division by Zero: Double Take. Ed. M. Rohr. Holland, MI: MiFiWriters (2018). [genre short fiction]
  • Gillikin, Jason, and Felicia Sadler. “Value-Based Purchasing in Ambulatory Surgical Centers: Implications for Quality.” NAHQ e-News 2014.01 (2014): 1. Web. [technical non-fiction]
  • Gillikin, Jason. “Manual of Usage Syntax and Style.” 9th ed. Grand Rapids, MI (2020). White paper. [technical non-fiction]
  • Gillikin, Jason. “Interpenetrated Design.” Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods. Ed. Paul Lavrakas. New York: SAGE Publications, Inc. (2008). [peer-reviewed technical non-fiction]
  • Gillikin, Jason. “Inclusive Language.” America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals, 5th edition.  Ed. Robert Atwan.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s (2003).  167-172. [creative non-fiction]

The following list contains selected stories from his tenure at the Western Herald (1999-2005), which may be downloaded as a single PDF:

  • Al Heilman boasts business background (candidate profile)
  • Male suicide (editorial)
  • “Super Troopers” fails at must-see status (film review)
  • Media diversity (editorial)
  • Bailey to propose increases, fees for 2004-2005 (news analysis)
  • Sigma Pi penalized for fight at fraternity (general news); Litynski to leave provost job (personality profile)
  • WMU’s BTR Park to add new company (news)
  • America’s place in world key question for election (opinion column)
  • WMU may fail governor’s challenge (news analysis)
  • Deal cut in Lansing, WMU to lower fee (general news)
  • Meningitis case treated successfully (general news)
  • Darnell’s contract terminated (breaking news brief)

Literary Citizenship

Being active in the community as a writer, editor and publisher should entail more than just churning through work product. To support the local literary community, Gillikin—

  • Served as panelist and workshop moderator at the 2018 Get Published! writers conference sponsored by MiFiWriters with Herrick District Library, Holland, Michigan, 2018.
  • Served as finance director for the 2017 Writers Squared series, a collection of reflections and readings by poets and authors from the Upper Midwest. WS was organized by the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters and sponsored in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council.
  • Presented a panel session, The Zeroth Law of Publishing, at the inaugural UntitledTown writers’ conference and literary festival, Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 2017.
  • Served as a panelist and panel moderator at the 2017 Get Published! writers’ conference sponsored by MiFiWriters with Caffeinated Press and Herrick District Library, Holland, Michigan, 2017.
  • Served as a panelist and a panel moderator at the 2016 Get Published! writers’ conference sponsored by MifiWriters, World Weavers Press, Herrick District Library and Caffeinated Press, Holland, Michigan, 2016.
  • Presented as a panel discussant at the 2015 Fall Writers’ Conference sponsored by the Kent District Library.
  • Host a write-in for National Novel Writing Month, every year since 2013.
  • Participate in a monthly peer writers’ networking group.
  • Host a semimonthly writer’s critique group.
  • Attend local literary events within the region, including the Ann Arbor Book Fair and the Rust City Book Con.
  • Served as board treasurer of Write616 (formerly the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters), a regional literary non-profit.

Files and Links

Please make use of the following assets: