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 (short version)

Jason Gillikin is the founder and CEO of Lakeshore Literary—a small traditional and hybrid Midwestern publisher and specialty book distributor—and the president of Diction Dude, an author-consulting and freelance writing-and-editing agency. He’s a co-founder and former CEO of Caffeinated Press, which operated between 2014 and 2019, and former publisher of The 3288 Review, Caffeinated Press’s journal of arts and letters.

Gillikin got his start as a newspaper columnist, working up the ranks until he earned appointment as editor-in-chief of the Western Herald, a daily community broadsheet. 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. Simultaneously, he’s the founder of the Grand River Writing Tribe, a small writers’ collective in the heart of West Michigan.

His 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). 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 degree in theoretical and practical ethics and quantitative political science from Western Michigan University. In his free time, he is an avid hiker, scuba diver and cat butler.

Literary Biography (long version)

Jason Gillikin is the founder and CEO of Lakeshore Literary—a small traditional and hybrid Midwestern publisher and specialty book distributor—and the president of Diction Dude, an author-consulting agency. He’s a co-founder and former CEO of Caffeinated Press, which operated between 2014 and 2019, and former publisher of The 3288 Review, Caffeinated Press’s journal of arts and letters.

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. He also coordinates a professional writing group called the Grand River Writing Tribe.

Gillikin got his start 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 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 privileges, until DMS shut down and eventually became Leaf Group. For DotDash, he serves as a contract quality editor focused on the Lifewire.com, VeryWell.com and ThoughtCo.com verticals.

His 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, Wilderness First Responder, 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, the distribution side—Lakeshore Literary—persists, and in early 2020 LL opened a three-imprint publishing operation to cover the classics, traditional publishing and hybrid publishing.

Published Works

A selection of Gillikin’s published work includes:

  • 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 non-fiction; 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)

Freelancer Portfolio

From September 2009 through August 2015, Gillikin freelanced for Demand Media. In that time, he touched a lot of content:

Task Type# ArticlesTask Explanation
Assigning Editor352Develop targeted instructions to writers for the execution of new content.
Assigning Editor (kill)110Remove algorithm-generated titles too off-base to execute.
Content Auditor758Review published material to assess writer/editor output.
Content Auditor (kill)247Remove problematic content uncovered during post-publication review.
Content Evaluation953Assessment of what kind of updating old content requires.
Editor3177Edit articles generated by writers.
Senior Editor134Edit new writers and writers put on probation for quality problems.
Writer729Create new content from scratch, within existing style guides.

This work is in addition to special assignments and support of the eHow Tech staff team as one of two contractor experts. In late 2015 and into 2016, Demand Media collapsed. Its assets folded into Leaf Group, and almost all of the content that he worked on during my six years with DMS has now been permanently un-published.

Beginning November 2016, Gillikin freelance edits for DotDash, where he renovates content primarily for the Lifewire.com vertical, with some support for VeryWell.com and ThoughtCo.com. This work includes a mix of light editing (of good/recent material), restructuring old content to reflect recent style-guide revisions, and rewriting content from scratch to meet evergreen/style-guide norms. Rewritten articles retain the byline of the original writer, however.

Articles for Lifewire that don’t include his byline, but which he rewrote in toto, include:

Although he edits across all of Lifewire, these three Linux titles are recent heavy lifts worth emphasizing. They’re sufficiently representative of his writing style and approach to content structuring.

In addition, Gillikin writes blog posts frequently. Sample posts include:

Over the years, Gillikin has supported several small one-off clients with activities including ghostwriting and editorial consulting. Most of these clients, given the source, required non-disclosure agreements.

Areas of Expertise

Gillikin enjoys deep history writing and editing content in the following fields:

  • Analytics & Statistics — analytic methodology, systems design, professional competencies, multivariate regression, data ETL, RDBMS design, translation of info into insight
  • Business and Finance — investing, start-ups, small-biz marketing
  • Healthcare Industry — Quality, patient safety, epidemiology, population health, revenue cycle optimization, registration and pre-bill management
  • Liberal Arts — history, comparative religion, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics
  • Lifestyle — Casino gaming, cigars, cocktails, beer, spirits
  • Outdoors — Backcountry hiking, kayaking, water rescue, scuba diving, wilderness medicine, expedition risk management, bushcraft
  • Politics & Culture — U.S. politics, political ideology, Catholicism, LGBT issues, federalism, civic health, institutional journalism, regulatory capture, identity politics, fusionism & integralism, higher-ed policy
  • Technology — Windows, Linux, iOS, hardware troubleshooting, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, cloud-storage, Python, SQL, Knime, Tableau, server administration, amateur radio
  • Writing and Publishing — news reporting, book publishing, self-publishing, book marketing, book editing, journal editing, writing-for-hire, service journalism, literary citizenship

In addition to his work in the publishing industry, Gillikin enjoys 20 years’ experience in the healthcare industry, where he’s worked as a leader in the Quality space in hospitals and insurance companies. His expertise in healthcare Quality includes analytics, population health, quality culture, and patient safety. He’s also worked as a professional ethicist, coordinating biomedical ethics consultations in a hospital setting for nearly four years.

Work-in-Progress Writing Portfolio as of February 2020

  • Six Lost Souls is under development; it’s at roughly two-thirds complete. This novel shares the story of Sarah Price, a young woman who learns from her adoptive parents that she has several biological siblings. Sarah searches for her lost brothers and sisters, discovering along the way that the pattern of off-book adoptions sponsored by a local Catholic parish hint at a deeper story. Throughout her quest to reunite her blood kin, she learns just how fragile the meaning of “family” can be, and that some old wounds should never be re-opened.
    • Read a sample scene: Six Lost Souls – Ch 14 Sc 1 – v2Fr. McKinder, Sarah’s parish priest and the pastor of the church at the heart of the adoption mystery, confronts several nuns who had been stationed at the parish during the most prolific period for adoptions. [The scene as presented here is a second draft.]
  • Magellan Ascendant is on hold. It’s done-ish, but I’m not satisfied with it. It’s a sci-fi novel that tries to tightly hew to real science while incorporating some political intrigue among the novel’s stakeholder groups.
    • Read a sample scene: Magellan Ascendant – Ch 2 – Sc 2Engineer Aguilar makes an EVA from Magellan to assess damage to the hull after the colonly ship’s 300-year journey to the Epsilon Tauri system. [Second draft.]
  • Sanctuary is in its second round of developmental self-edits. This manuscript is a full-length detective novel set in contemporary Grand Rapids, Mich. It focuses on a brash private investigator who clashes with the FBI over a dead young woman and her alleged ties to a nearby cult compound.
  • Aiden’s Wager—a foray into literary fiction with a strong dose of psychological, ethical and LGBT themes—is at 85 percent complete on the first draft, with a target of 85k words. In this novel, Aiden Coleman is disowned by his wealthy father. As he falls from grace in his ultra-rich social circle, he transitions from predator to prey. After a rival, Tyler Johnson, blackmails him into performing a sex video, Aiden must simultaneously establish a moral center for himself while pushing back against Tyler’s increasingly controlling and manipulative behavior.
    • Read a sample scene: Aiden’s Wager – Ch 5 Sc 3 – v3Aiden and his girlfriend, Jenna, have dinner after a fight. Jenna, however, has decided to leave him, not realizing the degree to which she was a core part of Aiden’s struggle to find a place in the world. This scene is a pivot point in the novel. [As presented, this file represents a third draft.]
  • From Pencil to Paperback—a non-fiction textbook about getting started as an author, with a heavy emphasis on working with small presses and literary magazines. Chapters 1-9 and 11 are complete; chapter 10 is half-done; chapters 12-15 are scoped.
  • Whiskey, Cats & Poems reflects my growing collection of poetry. Which, one day, will be released as a chapbook.
  • Delivering MIRACLES: Structuring, Staffing & Supporting a High-Performing Healthcare Quality Team Using the MIRACLES Model. This textbook remains in active development; it’s fully scoped, with peer feedback regarding structure, and is one-quarter complete.
  • On the short-form front:
    • Ashes of Another Life (short, ~3k words)—a young man’s ex shows up unexpectedly, bearing life-changing news.
    • Close Shave (flash, ~1k words)—a light-hearted take on a contract killing. Based on specific writing prompts.
    • Impulse Control (short, ~2k words)—a misunderstanding leads to tragedy.
    • Regret (flash, 850 words)—a young minister meets a dying old man. This story has been extensively workshopped.

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: