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Agustin’s fiction has appeared in Arcadia Literary Journal, The Binnacle, The 34th Parallel Magazine, The Write Room, Apropos Literary Journal, The Adirondack Review, Press 1, Sugar Mule, Review Americana, and Hinchas de Poesia. His debut novel, The Mares of Lenin Park, won The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture’s Prize Americana for Prose in 2012. His one-act play, Blasphemous Rumours, was produced at the Florida International University Theatre (Miami), and his 10-minute play, Ham and Eggs, was produced at the Silver Spring Stage One-Act Festival (Silver Spring, MD). The latter was published in Palooka Journal. Agustin is an educational administrator living in the Washington, DC metro area (Herndon, VA). He has worked as a teacher, translator, and a high school principal.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Agustin. When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
Aside from my short fiction appearing in various literary magazines, my debut novel The Mares of Lenin Park was published by a small press, Hollywood Books International. They offered to publish the book after I received the Prize Americana for Prose 2012 award.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
After signing the contract, I would say the editing process took about eight months. It’s currently out on Kindle and will be out in print within the next few weeks. It will be distributed via Ingram and available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was elated! I actually celebrated twice: once when I won the award and then when I signed the contract. I got together with friends and family and had a very good time!
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
My publisher and I are currently sending out press releases to magazines, e-zines, newspapers, bookstores, and anyone who we think could promote the book. The very first thing I did was create a Facebook page so others could help me spread the word. https://www.facebook.com/TheMaresOfLeninPark
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
I really grew as a writer during the editing process. I realized quickly that the book was no longer solely mine. Here I was in a relationship with a great editor who forced me to look at what I really wanted to convey. Even though she felt it was already a very polished draft, it was just that – a final draft that needed to be honed into a publish-ready piece. The relationship I developed with my editor, the dialogues we had at length about what we both wanted the book to be, made me mature as a writer. I’m currently writing my second book, a sequel to Mares, and I’m finding that I’m more honest with what I have to say because of my experience editing the first book.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
I was surprised that I didn’t have to go through an agent with my first book. I always thought that someone would have to represent me in order for any publishing house to notice me. I was also – and still am – surprised at how much work I need to do on my end to market the book. I never realized how much time I’d be putting into marketing my book and putting my name out there.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
The most rewarding thing about publishing my first book is the validation that the story I had to tell was an important one with universal truths that I felt needed to be told. I write about what I know, and I now feel that my history, my experiences are important enough for someone to want to publish it. Seeing the cover of the book with my name on it for the first time was exhilarating!
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Write what you really know about. There’s no faking real experiences. Keep at it. Don’t worry about what will happen once you finish writing your book or how you’ll sell it. Just write, write, write! And if you’re finished with your first book and it is still unpublished or not picked up by an agent, start writing the next one. Even on those days when you don’t feel like writing, force yourself to do it! Whatever you do, don’t be discouraged. If your story has mass appeal and you’re a good storyteller, someone will be interested in representing or publishing you. It also goes without saying that you have to be a voracious reader.