Small Press Points: Civil Coping Mechanisms


We’re coping” is the motto of the Fairfax, Virginia–based press Civil Coping Mechanisms ( Publisher Michael Seidlinger says, “We adhere to the idea that literature, especially bold literature—writing that doesn’t shy away from the problem, the pain, the worry, the doubt—can be one of our best coping mechanisms.” Established in 2011, Civil Coping Mechanisms (CCM) so far seems to be more than just coping: The press publishes about twenty titles of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction each year and will launch a new children’s imprint, White Rabbit, in October, with titles from poet Dorothea Lasky and fiction writer Porochista Khakpour. The press also merged in January with the online magazine Entropy and started its own blog, Enclave. CCM’s latest titles, published this month, include Sean H. Doyle’s memoir, This Must Be the Place; Katie Jean Shinkle’s novel The Arson People; and Kirsten Alene’s short story collection Rules of Appropriate Conduct. Seidlinger and his team consider submissions year-round in all genres, with no reading fee, via e-mail at; they also administer a free weeklong contest, Mainline, three times per year, in February, June, and September. For one week, the editors read all submitted manuscripts, announce front-runners on a daily basis via the press’s Twitter handle (@CCMPress), and then select at least one title for publication. “Some contests take half a year to discover the results,” Seidlinger says. “There’s a sort of blind, unknown aura about most of them, where contestants pay the fee and essentially are forced to forget all about the contest to save some piece of their sanity. I wanted to challenge the literary-contest form while also implementing a degree of transparency.” Mainline submissions will open on June 22.