Here’s the situation… You are an aspiring author that has decided to self publish through Xlibris, who in turn has attached a $29.99 price tag to your debut novel. Your sales are being obstructed since many aren’t ready to pay almost double the price for a book by a newcomer, so you begin to search for other options that will be more beneficial to you. You decide to submit to an establishing publishing company, the response is favorable and you are now on your way.
The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino catches up to Michael F. Blake to talk about his new deal with Delphine Publications and his debut novel, The Holy City, which will be released on January 15th.
Michelle: Being born in the intercity of Chicago, do you believe you were preordained to enter into the fast life, or was your environment not a factor?
Michael: Yes, I would have to say it was preordained. Coming up in a single parent household, my mother worked long hours to give me a chance at a better life but on the other hand my father was an excellent basketball player as well as a hustler that led a flamboyant lifestyle. The fast money, nice cars, and clothes that was exposed to me through different family members intrigued my imagination more so than working an honest job. Outside of my mother and grandmother’s the fast life was all around me.
Michelle: Many other urban authors have had stints in prison as well, what did you learn from your experience?
Michael: Great question…I definitely learned patience. Going through that experience also forced me to become a more cautious thinker, knowing that one wrong decision could cause me my life. Every moment I spent in prison made me feel like the outside world was passing me by. Unfortunately, it took for me to go through these dark times to learn that prayer works. If it wasn’t for the spirit of God this newly found talent of writing couldn’t have ever been revealed.
Michelle: When you first published your novel, The Holy City, it was under Xlibris, which in my opinion is a definite self-publishing No-No. Why did you choose to publish with them over all the other outlets available?
Michael: After I sent home my completed manuscript my family began to search for different self-publishing companies that best fit what we were trying to accomplish. At the time, we all were less knowledgeable to the book-publishing world so we went with the publishing house that offered more variety in their package deals for our budget. After coming home I was able to do more research on self-publishing and later found out that Xlibris was definitely not the best route for my novel.
Michelle: You will be re-releasing The Holy City under Delphine Publications shortly. How did that deal come about?
Michael: Actually, one day I was researching different Publication companies to submit my query letters to when I stumbled upon AAMBC. I sent over an e-mail inquiring information on how to get my book reviewed. Surprisingly, I got an immediate response with helpful directions. The name Tamika Newhouse along with a link to Delphine Publication was at the bottom of the e-mail. I went to the website and learned more on the history of Delphine and seen all the obstacles Tamika overcame to not only become successful in the literary world, but in my opinion, a mogul as well. After reading about Tamika’s background and all her accomplishments I instantly gained a lot of respect for all the work she had put in. From that point on it was a no brainer for me to reach out to the Delphine family with the proper submission requirements. The rest is history.
Michelle: Has the book gone through any changes as far as editing or content, or will it be more or less the same as the original publication?
Michael: A few editing changes but for the most part everything remained the same.
Michelle: Since you had dreams of playing basketball, but were lured away by the street life, is The Holy City part memoir, or is it totally fictitious?
Michael: I write about how I feel and what I see. Some are other people’s experiences, some of them I experienced. So I must say The Holy City is a total fictitious novel that’s based on some true events.
Michelle: Tell us a little about the book and what we can expect in the ensuing installments, since this is the first of a trilogy.
Michael: The Holy City series is a gritty, morality tale about two brothers growing up in a Chicago neighborhood. Although The Holy City is a fictional story based on the Westside of Chicago, there are Marcus’, Smitty’s, and Big C’s in every major ‘hood across America. Believe me, the best is yet to come!
Michelle: What do you feel has been the most valuable lesson learned thus far when it comes to self-publishing?
Michael: Well, I quickly learned that self-publishing is just that “SELF-Publishing” it doesn’t automatically come with professional help. It takes a ton of effort and money to get the necessary publicity an author needs to reach the ultimate success level that most of us crave.
Michelle: As a newcomer and the second male author to be signed to Delphine Publications, what mark do you hope to leave as you gain prominence in the industry?
Michael: My desire is to remain loyal to myself, the streets, and my fans through my writings. I hope to leave a sense of hard work, dedication, and an outlet for youths in the inner cities all around the country, letting them know that there is a POSITIVE way out of their troubled environment.
Born in the intercity of Chicago, Michael found himself pulled in two different directions after completing high school. His dreams of becoming a basketball player was overwhelmed by the peer pressure from the neighborhoods, young men who were famous for being street lords. Becoming a young parent, Michael chose the thug lifestyle, fast money, and cars to provide for his family. After a drastic incident that led Michael to a five-year prison sentence, he recollected on past memories and began writing his debut novel, The Holy City