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The following article is by Donna Wahlert, author of The First Pressing: Poetry of the Everyday. Donna has contributed wonderful poems to my anthologies for a number of years. After I received her newly-published book and her email conveying her excitement about being published with iUniverse, I asked if she would be willing to share her experiences with my readers. Whether you have a poetry collection, a novel, or a nonfiction book, and want to get it published as soon as possible, I'm sure you'll agree that iUniverse is an option you should definitely explore. You can purchase Donna’s book, The First Pressing, at,, or







by Donna Wahlert


Last spring I had a revelation. This inner message said to me: “You are 64 years old. If you want to publish a book of your poetry, do it now. You haven’t got all day!”


I didn’t want to spend years acquiring a publisher; I wanted to choose what poems would be included in the book; I wanted to have a say in the layout; I wanted to choose the cover; in short, I wanted to call the shots. In addition, I wanted to start on the project and do it as quickly and as reasonably as possible. My chief aim was to collect eighty-five of my poems, half of which had been published in over forty journals and anthologies, and put them “under one roof” for my children and grandchildren and for those at my poetry readings who continually asked, “When are you going to do a book of your own?”


As I researched publishers, I had a serendipitous meeting with a friend of a friend who was working on her third novel with author-driven publisher, iUniverse. She explained the on-line publishing process, the reasonable fee, and her great degree of satisfaction with the company and the final product.


After more exploration on their extremely helpful website, I decided to submit my manuscript to iUniverse and chose their Premier Program. I was sent the non-exclusive contract on-line and was given instructions and assistance in uploading my manuscript to their secure website. If the on-line submission seems too daunting, one can submit a CD through the mail. I was immediately assigned a PSA, publishing services associate, with whom I worked throughout the entire process. A short time later, I was assigned an ISBN for my book, The First Pressing: Poetry of the Everyday.


My manuscript was then sent to editorial review, which took 2-3 weeks. I received a 15-page review in which the quality of my book was examined and judged from every possible viewpoint: content, organization, poetic devices and structure, accuracy, marketability, appropriateness of theme and title, and overall quality. Now, with the information gleaned from the editorial review, I was given the opportunity to make changes in the manuscript, if I so desired. My book scored enough points to be awarded the designation of “Editor’s Choice.”


Next my manuscript went to the design department for artistic layout (especially important with poetry) and creation of the cover. I had commissioned an artist friend of mine to design the cover, but iUniverse offers complete cover design or will work with you on your own design ideas.


After the design process, which takes a few weeks, I was sent a PDF file of my complete manuscript and cover. What a thrill—to see the cover of my book slowly unfold on my computer screen! Then I opened the manuscript file and saw my pages as they would appear in the book. A totally emotional moment! But I was quickly brought back to earth with the downloading of the proofing process, which I would need to complete electronically. It took a few minutes to study the steps, but I knew that even with a four-year-old MAC and my non-techie skills I could do this. I was given about two weeks to proof the book. I took my time, completed it, e-mailed it to my PSA, and then signed off on my book, The First Pressing: Poetry of the Everyday.


Then there was a wait of a few weeks before the author’s copies arrived at my front door. Shaking with excitement, I read and reread and re-proofed the book. If there were minute errors, I still had time to correct them. After everything met my satisfaction, I gave the go-ahead for full production and placed the first order for my own book.


As part of the Premier Program, I was sent a marketing tool kit which included templates for promotional material: “Just Published” posters, postcards, bookmarks, sell sheets and other aids for marketing.


Although there had been no press releases or publicity as yet, using these marketing tools and personal e-mails, I received orders from my faithful followers for 200 books within two weeks. More postcards were mailed and the word of mouth continued and within four weeks, I had sold 600 books. iUniverse placed my book immediately on their website, and within a few weeks had also placed it on and The royalties from these vendors are credited to “My iUniverse Account,” which I can track daily on their secure website. I have been extremely pleased publishing with iUniverse. The experience exceeded my expectations. I think the term “self-publishing” is a misnomer; with iUniverse, it was very much a partnership. Several services and fully competent assistance were available throughout the entire process of producing my book.


I started planning my book in the spring of 2003; submitted my manuscript in July; and in September, received my first shipment of 500 books! All of my criteria had been met. I produced a quality product quickly and reasonably with an abundance of help when I needed it and still “did it my way.”


I have a sense of completion as I pass on this 6x9 inch paper legacy to my five children and thirteen grandchildren. I also pass on the profits of this book to provide services for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. I do this in memory of my mother who, despite her disease, inspired me past her last moment.


© Donna Wahlert


Article provided by June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA


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