The Do’s and Don’ts of Submitting by Cati Porter

Most of you know me as the face of Inlandia. Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the My Awesome Empire radio broadcast. One of the things they asked was how did I get involved with Inlandia. I have Marion Mitchell-Wilson to thank, who invited me to coffee and the rest is history. Everyone who knows her knows that you can’t say no to Marion.

Marion and I met at an Inlandia event—I can’t even remember which, this was so long ago, but Inlandia was still housed at the Riverside Public Library, and Marion ran the organization from her post as Development Officer at the library, curating their arts and culture calendar. I was just a few years in to my own foray into arts & culture, having founded Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry, an online literary journal dedicated to poetry. The first Advisory Council meeting that I attended was in 2009, and shortly after that Inlandia broke from the library and formed its own independent nonprofit. I never envisioned then that I would someday be at the helm.

Marion had as one aspect of her vision for Inlandia, the preservation of the voices and stories of those that make this place home. In furthering that mission and vision, coupled with my own interest in writing and publishing, I have been working hard toward expanding Inlandia’s publications program. We have been slowly adding books to our catalog, both through Heyday and independently, and with the launch of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize, we hope to continue to bring books to the public for many years to come. It’s a slow process, though, one that requires patience as we gain speed.

Through Poemeleon first, and now through Inlandia, I’ve learned many things about publishing. It hasn’t been easy, and as a writer myself, it’s been challenging to follow my own advice sometimes, but years ago I found a very helpful list of “50 dos and don’ts”, which I’ve modified for my own use. For those of you looking for a publisher, or looking to submit work to Inlandia, try to keep these things in mind:

– Do read submissions guidelines carefully—it shows you respect the editor’s time, and that you take the submission process seriously.

– Don’t ask for feedback on your work, because, again, it shows you respect the editor’s time; if you want feedback, find a writers workshop to join or form your own.

– Do keep cover letters brief; don’t include anything personal other than your contact info, and don’t try to summarize what you are trying to do with the poems.

– Don’t include a bio that is a mile long—editors don’t need to see everywhere you’ve ever published; only include a handful of recognizable and recent credits, or don’t include any at all.

– Do spell check everything and proofread until you’re certain they are no typos, and don’t freak out if you find out later that there was a typo, because if the work is good, that can be fixed later; editors understand.

– Don’t center your poems or use any other weird formatting or font or use ALL CAPS unless you have a very strategic reason to do so.

– Do your research and submit only to journals that you’ve actually read and think might like your work.

– Don’t put the copyright symbol on your poems—copyright is inherent from the moment of creation. (And if someone is out to steal your work, the copyright symbol isn’t going to stop them.)

– Do submit to more than one press or journal at a time, as that ups the odds of the work getting picked. (Exception: if a press or journal specifically states no simultaneous submissions.)

And lastly:

– Don’t take rejection personally! There are so many reasons why an editor might pass something up. And if you get a personalized rejection, submit again—promptly!

Right now, Inlandia is gearing up to reopen submissions but we are not currently accepting full-length manuscripts. One of our goals is to provide services to authors—whether they are looking for a publisher, or want help publishing it themselves. All writing has an audience somewhere, it just takes patience, strategic submitting, and time.

But while you’re waiting, if you have individual prose or poetry selections, check out Inlandia’s online literary journal, Inlandia: A Literary Journey ( Or try these other So Cal presses and venues:

IE-centric Lit Journals:

PoetrIE/Tin Cannon

Wild Lemon Project

Pacific Review

Ghost Town




Shuf Poetry

See the Elephant


Metaphysical Circus Press

Blue West Books

Jamii Publishing

Orange Monkey

Moon Tide

Spout Hill

Lucid Moose Lit

Cadence Collective

Sadie Girl Press

Arroyo Seco Press

For the Love of Words

Tebot Back


Bank-Heavy Press

Kelsay Books

Aortic Books

Lummox Press

Locked Horn Press

I’m sure there are more presses out there—if you know of any, send me a link! Help me build a list of resources for Inlandia’s writers to include on our website.