Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Diaz.
Matthew, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been working with teenagers for the past sixteen years in various capacities. I started as a volunteer middle school leader when I was a senior in High School. In college, I started an internship with my church with the middle and high school programs. When I finished college, I was hired as a full-time youth pastor and continue to do that and work on graduate school at the same time. I got married to my wife Katie in 2009 and currently have four beautiful children ages 3 to 13. The oldest was my stepson who I have since adopted. In 2013 I left the church I was at to live closer to family and find more experience. Several things happened that year. My third child, now six, was born prematurely weighing 3 lbs and 11 oz. It took seven months of two middle of the night feedings to have her be at a healthy weight that the doctors wanted. The second major event, besides leaving the comfort of a stable job, selling our home and moving to a new place is that my younger sister passed away. This has been one of the greatest challenges in my life and is the topic of my book, “The Last Day of Regret.”
Since her passing I found a job as a Bible teacher at a private Christian High School in Phoenix that has allowed me the time to process her death. I was encouraged to write this story down for the school family to read and be encouraged by. It took five years of processing before I could put everything down into words, my time in teaching has afforded me the time to process this loss and share parts of my story that eventually made it into the book. As any surviving family member of a loved one can attest to, you carry the loss with you forever; however, you can choose to dwell in grief and guilt or you can accept the new reality and forge a new path in their honor. I have chosen the latter.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the major factors associated with any start up, whether it be a brick and mortar business or a self-published author is start up costs. The decisions on where to focus your expenditures is hard. My costs were significantly less than a full-time business because my goal has been to build this into a full-time business over the course of several years. I was told it takes a year to get your feet grounded and book with an established audience. I have a full-time teaching career which I love and inspires me to continue to write. Waiting for opportunities to come up, seeking speaking engagements and networking have been the most challenging outside of money spent. The costs associated with a book need to be placed in the editing of the manuscript to make sure it is as polished and clean as possible cannot be overstated. If you do not grab your audience in the first several pages, you risk losing them altogether.
A good editor will help you through this process. Knowing where to invest in advertising is key too. I was told I need book reviews once I had a final manuscript. I paid for several book reviews but a couple of them were only four out of five stars that I wanted for Amazon so I didn’t publish those reviews. Amazon seems to be the main place to focus your efforts for reviews and making sure your book is available in as many formats as possible. If I could afford to make my book available in audio, I would but it is costly. Finally, I have entered my book into five different indie book awards to gain exposure and recognition. That is the waiting part. This year of 2020 will be when many of the awards will be given for books published in 2019. For now, I am back to waiting.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Over the past two years, I started my endeavor to become an author and speaker. In June of 2018, I started a blog and website named after the manuscript I was working on called “The Last Day of Regret.” The advice I was given about being a successful author was to have an online presence at least a year before publishing a book. People need to be able to search me by name and see that I have had an online presence already established. My blog was that avenue that I began while simultaneously editing my manuscript. In May of 2019, I launched my book with the same title and began the hard work of being a self-published author. My end goal has been to get speaking engagements on the topic of tragedy and grief, which is the focus of my memoir, “The Last Day of Regret.” I was told a takes a year to get movement on your book and during that time to start finding different venues to speak at and share my story. I am still in my first year of being a first time published author and have had five major speaking engagements, mostly in front of high school students. My book won a New York Big Book Award as a Distinguished Favorite in the area of Self-Help: Spiritual. I’ll be attending my first book festival in Tucson in March to meet readers and other Indie Authors. I am both trying to gain exposure for my book, myself as an author and continue to find speaking engagements on the topic of how we deal with tragedy.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The best moment of being a first time author is opening the first box of books that arrive at your doorstep. To see the finished product is monumental. I always here people mention how they want to write a book someday and that someday for me became a reality last April when that box arrived. My wife told me I would cry, and I shrugged it off. However, when I opened it and held a copy of my labor of love I did shed a few tears. It took five and half years to turn a dream into a finalized book I could hold in my hand. I was told having your first copy was only the beginning of even more work to promote your book. However, this part of the journey I have something to give to people that is more than just words on the internet. Having both a book to sell and my words on the internet have allowed my spoken words to carry more weight and meaning. I think I’m on the right track.
- Ebook $9.99
- Paperback $17.95
- Hardcover $33.95
- Amazon Prices: $8.99, $14.93, and $28.65
- Website: matthewjdiaz.com
- Phone: 9288149168
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lastdayofregret/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thelastdayofregret
Anya McFadden (Self Photo and Photo with wife)