I’d like to welcome Mr. Delgado to my blog today. He is a native San Franciscan, growing up in the inner city. He began writing his first novel at age 14, and has also worked on various works of poetry and fiction. His book, “The First Sandcastle,” has received some great reviews, and will be a great addition to your reading list.
Katie: Can you please give us a brief synopsis of “The First Sandcastle?”
M. E. Delgado: The First Sandcastle is a book is about growing up, the meaningful relationships that are formed along the way—and hard lessons learned. Marlo Clemente, the young talented artist in the novel, experiences turmoil at home from his parents who fight constantly. He is distanced from his mother early on as his father warns that all women are evil—only out to use men for money and to crush hearts. Marlo escapes to the beach where he begins to build sandcastles he one day hopes will never fall. He too becomes captivated by Desiree Castillo, a girl far different than those described by his father. Caught between worlds, Marlo struggles sketching a world far different than his father’s boisterous depictions have led him to believe.
Katie: What parallels can be drawn from your character, Marlo, to your own life, if any?
M. E. Delgado: Marlo is much like I am and all others who grow up thinking the world is like our parents’. I struggled with identity and trying to identify with my own talents and dreams. I was not a rebellious kid, though I did express my differences in my writings, as Marlo expresses in his elaborate sandcastles and paintings.
Katie: What about the themes explored in this book? Do they parallel any events or happenings in your life?
M. E. Delgado: Fighting and arguing in my family was constant. I was always caught between both sides, and I hated it. As a child, I was not allowed to express myself verbally, and I always walked around with a hidden hurt that could only be expressed later on, when I was older—in this book. Like Marlo, I needed an outlet for my struggles. No, I never went to the beach and built sandcastles, but I did lose myself in my room as kid, writing much of this book at age 16.
M. E. Delgado: It was the summer before my senior year in high school. I was sixteen and had already written a 90 page science-fiction manuscript entitled, Salvation of the Apocalypse. I was not very happy with that piece and felt I could do much more with my writing talent. I wanted so much at that point to write a serious work of fiction, something meaningful. A vision of a boy began popping into my mind, a boy sitting alone at the beach working diligently on a magical sandcastle. Alone with his thoughts, this boy, as I imagined, was down about life, sad about something—something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Instead of watching his remarkable sandcastle fall from the rolling tides beyond, I saw him slowly raise himself from the sand and abandon his creation as dusk soon swallowed the once promising blue skies above. I knew not what had transpired in his life, or why he was so sad. But the dream of sandcastles which never fell was thus born, an important metaphor throughout the novel.
Katie: Why did you self-publish your book?
M. E. Delgado: I self published because I wanted to have full control over my work. Quite often, a writer has to relinquish all rights over his/her work and thus compromises the art as it was originally intended. I did not want that for my book—or all future works.
Katie: Did you acquire an agent? If so, how many queries did you put out, and how long did it take you to find an agent? And, how long after getting an agent was your book accepted for publication?
M. E. Delgado: I did acquire an agent when I had first finished the novel. I was 21 years old at the time and had no knowledge of the publishing industry. I was rejected several times and received countless form letters. The agent I worked with at the time was not highly recognized, so I did not receive any offers. I’m glad it worked out the way it did because I would later publish and market the book as I felt it should.
Katie: Can you please walk us through the process that it took to getting your book published, from the query letter, to contract, to holding the book in your hand?
M. E. Delgado: I looked into the growing POD (print-on-demand) sector and saw that many of those publishing companies priced books too high and left very little profit to the author. After months of research, I discovered the printing channels many of the POD companies used were also accessible and available to everyone—and also found that the traditional way of publishing was slowly being done away with. Even the larger publishing companies were looking for ways of reducing print costs and limiting the over stocking of books which may never sell in retail outlets. Thus, I realized that self-publishing was the way to go. I signed up with LSI, (Lightning Source Incorporated). They had all the printing capabilities and distribution channels being that they are owned by Ingram. I purchased my own ISBNs & from here, I had all the options in the world of hiring my own editor, publicist, etc. I was able to price my book quite competitively and still not have to run the risk of having to print thousands of books that may not sell.
Katie: What is a typical writing day like for you?
M. E. Delgado: I have no set schedule. Most of my writing is done by hand, as I feel my heart and soul is better connected to my words as I jot them down with pen and paper.
Katie: What future writing plans do you currently have?
M. E. Delgado: Well, I never wanted to make writing my living, never wanted to go out and publish books for the simple sake of publishing. The First Sandcastle was indeed a story I had wanted to tell my entire life, a story worth telling and one worth reading. Never thought I'd pick up a pen again. But now that some time has gone by, I've had thoughts of writing a sequel. It's in the works, though I can't promise that it will be released any time soon. Like Marlo, I too seem to dwell in tideless dreams.
Katie: Marketing and promotion of their books often falls on the backs of the authors these days. Please share with us three marketing/promotional tips that have worked well for you.
M. E. Delgado: First, print ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) of the book before it is officially published and submit to as many review sites as possible. Getting the buzz out is key and letting as many people know of the book and what others think are the first stepping stones. Next, attend business networking events. I have been able to sell many books simply because people meet me, not necessarily because my book has made some waves. You also have a chance to possibly meet people who are in marketing. I had met a representative from Borders at one event and was lucky enough to be offered a book signing event at one of their local stores. Lastly, an author needs a home. Very important that every author have a website they can direct people to. I took a beginning web design course at the local community college 8 years ago, and I’ve been maintaining and updating my own site since then at www.MEDelgado.com
Katie: What three things would you like to share with other writers?
M. E. Delgado: Believe in your work. The goal should be to share your work with the world, not necessarily trying to make big money. Most writers will never make lots of money from writing. The dream, however, is always the same, to share your magic and let it touch those who want to be touched.