The clock struck midnight and—poof!—2017 was consigned to the mercy of the historians. As we look forward to 2018, eager to capitalize on all the new partnerships that have been brewing, we’d like to share some important updates about life at Caffeinated Press.
Our tradition, ever since our founding in 2014, has been to take November off to recharge. Many of our editors and most of our leadership team has participated in National Novel Writing Month. This year was no different. However, some adjustments to our leadership team extended that recharge period into December.
Many great things occurred this past year:
- We released several books: Isle Royale from the AIR, Off the Wall: How Art Speaks, Jot That Down and Ladri. Several of these titles were published in print through a new business partner, Color House Graphics.
- We released Brewed Awakenings 3, our annual house anthology.
- We released issues 2.3, 2.4 and 3.1 of The 3288 Review and transitioned the journal to a West Michigan-only semiannual celebration of arts and letters. And in 3.1, we finally actually started doing some real reviewing!
- We continued our partnership with the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters, including entering into a space-sharing arrangement with them.
- We worked with MiFiWriters for their Get Published! conference in Holland, Mich., and we led a spirited discussion about small-press publishing at the inaugural UntitledTown Book and Author Festival in Green Bay, Wisc.
- We solidified many of our processes around editorial intake, project leadership and author onboarding, plus we consolidated our editorial guidelines from a daunting 6,400-word essay into a brief list of FAQ-hyperlinked reference materials.
- We moved our office from the large and under-used cavern in the basement of the Ken-O-Sha Professional Building, to a much more cozy space on the main floor of the same building. We cut our square footage but we also significantly cut our rent costs.
- We enjoyed a rousing poetry reading and launch event in November at Books and Mortar in Grand Rapids.
- We nominated six worthy contributors for the prestigious Pushcart Prize.
As we move into 2018, we do so with both excitement about what lies ahead and with a certain sadness for some transitions that have come to our leadership team.
- First, we wish the very best to AmyJo Johnson and Tabitha Maloley as they depart the board of directors. AmyJo joined us in 2015 as our chief marketing officer. She’s leaving to focus on a new entrepreneurial initiative in sync with her career arc. This is a happy move for her, and we’re glad she’s still sticking around our writing group. Tabitha joined us in 2017 and brought some order out of our editorial chaos. Now that she has a new day job, her availability has been curtailed—but she, too, is sticking around the writing group. Both of these departures are under happy circumstances for them; Caffeinated Press wishes both AmyJo and Tabitha the best in their new professional endeavors and we’re pleased we’ll still see them around, still writing their own stories.
- Second, we’re announcing that Jennifer Brown and John Winkelman are both on sabbatical from the board. Jen was a co-founder and was instrumental in getting Brewed Awakenings off the ground. John, who joined us in 2015, has been the heart and soul of The 3288 Review. John will be on leave for all of 2018; he’s not resigning, but over the course of the coming year, his responsibilities will be handled by others.
- We’re currently in conversations about one or two people potentially joining our board. More to come.
This leaves the day-to-day governance of Caffeinated Press to fall to Jason Gillikin and Brittany Wilson. To ensure that we’re on a long-term sustainable track, we’re focusing early 2018 on revenue capture through the expansion of our distribution network locally, as well as through the release of online seminars about the business and the craft of writing. These seminars will be offered, partially, with GLCL.
We do not expect to see any significant adverse effect on editorial operations beyond a few projects (primarily, Brewed Awakenings 3) being delayed a few months and a few others possibly being ended early. In the next few days, we’ll send a note to all our authors and editors offering closer insight into what’s happening behind the scenes.
For The 3288 Review, we expect that business will continue as normal. Although John is on hiatus for a year and our poetry editor—Leigh Jajuga—is stepping away to focus on the 85,000 things that ordinarily consume her day, we’re pleased to share that KT Herr will be joining the masthead as poetry editor and that we’ll be receiving substantial editorial support from Lisa McNeilley, PhD.
We’re bullish about the future.
Fun fact: Jason Gillikin, the co-founder and CEO of Caffeinated Press, is also the board treasurer of GLCL. That organization—a literary non-profit—is about to relaunch under a stronger brand with considerably more robust programming in 2018. We at Caffeinated Press won’t steal GLCL’s thunder, but the alignment of their programming and ours will become tighter. You’ll see it most clearly with a seminar series and with a greater cross-pollination of talent as our network grows larger, as well as more honed and cross-functional internship program.
After a careful late-December assessment of where we’re at, Jason and Brittany committed to:
- Doubling down on our anthology and lit journal as premiere venues for local authors and poets to see their work in print.
- Growing our direct-to-bookseller distribution program to ensure that our books get on shelves across the state.
- Building a robust portfolio of on-demand, online courses about the craft and business of small-press publishing.
- Continuing to publish long-form works, with five projects already committed and two additional under review.
- Partnering with other local organizations on conferences, joint appearances, cross-product marketing and community engagement.
Our mission has always been to publish—to celebrate!—works of literary merit by creators local to West Michigan. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and we look forward to a great upcoming year—a year marked by a new emphasis on network building and community growth.
May your own 2018 be your best one yet.