Writing, Editing & Publishing

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

Literary Biography

Jason Gillikin is the founder and CEO of Lakeshore Literary—a traditional three-imprint small press—and the president of Diction Dude, an author-consulting and freelance writing-and-editing agency. In addition, he’s the board chair of Lakeshore Literary Foundation and the proprietor of Jason’s Books & Coffee. He presently publishes The Lakeshore Review, a semiannual journal of arts and letters focused on the Upper Midwest, and is the founder and a group facilitator for the Grand River Writing Tribe. He is the 2023-2026 board secretary of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association.

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.

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.

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.

Publisher Activity

From June 2014 until December 2019, I 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 our highly regarded literary journal, The 3288 Review
  • Published two installments of our 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 my leadership role, I oversaw corporate strategy and, for the first few years, acquisitions and editorial operations. We touched thousands of submissions into our slush pile over the years.

In mid-2020, I slow-launched Lakeshore Literary, a three-imprint traditional small press. In 2022 Lakeshore Literary debuted The Lakeshore Review, a literary journal I co-edited with my colleague Garrett. In 2023, I launched the Lakeshore Literary Foundation to support emerging writers in the region, and opened Jason’s Books and Coffee, a bookstore and coffee shop offering a mix of new and used books.

Published Works

A selection of my published work includes:

  • Gillikin, Jason. The Diction Dude Essential Guide to Getting Started as a Professional Writer. Wyoming, MI: Lakeshore Literary (2020) [non-fiction 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 non-fiction]
  • 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 my 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, I freelanced for Demand Media. In that time, I touched a lot of content:

Task Type # Articles  Explanation
Assigning Editor 352 Develop targeted instructions to writers for the execution of new content.
Assigning Editor (kill) 110 Remove algorithm-generated titles too off-base to execute.
Content Auditor 758 Review published material to assess writer/editor output.
Content Auditor (kill) 247 Remove problematic content uncovered during post-publication review.
Content Evaluation 953 Assessment of what kind of updating old content requires.
Editor 3177 Edit articles generated by writers.
Senior Editor 134 Edit new writers and writers put on probation for quality problems.
Writer 729 Create 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 I worked on during my six years with DMS has now been permanently un-published.

From November 2016 to July 2020, I freelance edited for DotDash, where I renovated content primarily for the Lifewire.com vertical, with some support for VeryWell.com and ThoughtCo.com. This work included 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 that don’t include my byline, but which I rewrote in toto, include:

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

In addition, I write blog posts frequently. Sample posts include:

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

Work-in-Progress Writing Portfolio as of Late 2023

  • 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 – v2. Fr. 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 – v3. Aiden 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 my local literary community, I—

  • Accepted nomination (and won election) as the board secretary of the Midwest Independent Publisher’s Association, for the 2023-2026 term.
  • Volunteer as a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month, the USA-Mich-Grand Rapids region, since 2021.
  • 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, in 2017 through 2019.

Files and Links

Please make use of the following assets:


  1. Jason,

    So good to see you on my space.
    All of my family is in GR if you ever want to meet for lunch. I go there at about once a week. Take care. Your web page looks great.

  2. Happy Birthday Jay! I saw Stardust too, and I thought it was so good I may see it again. I do not usually like to watch programs over again, but this one was good. I was happy to see that I made it on your website. Since I live in Indiana, I am the forgotten one.

    Respectfully submitted,