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My Publishing Journey Part 4.

My Publishing Journey Part 4.

Published in Asiana magazine online.

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My publishing journey part 3.

Lascar was now ready to be submitted to the publishing world. As an unknown author, it was a challenge to market my first book to a wider audience and I didn’t want to go down the self-publishing route again. Thus, I sent out proposals to many agents and publishers.

When I received the first few rejections, I thought that there was something fundamentally wrong with my novel. That was demoralising. I received multiple rejection letters, all of which I still have. Consequently, I began rewriting certain chapters. After a few more rejections, I asked myself whether I would do this every time I receive a rejection. Rejections are not personal, but at times it felt that way. If you don’t feel enthusiastic enough about your work, then you can’t expect someone else to.

Most replied with the standard rejection letter: ‘It’s not right for our list’; ‘We didn’t fall in love with it’; ‘We’re not looking for new material’, or ‘We didn’t feel enthusiastic enough to take it on’.

I reworked certain sections, sent out more submissions and began to receive positive feedback such as, ‘a fascinating and intelligent story’ or ‘an excellent writing style coupled with an interesting story and historical viewpoint’. One publisher commented that it was ‘too Bollywood’; a comment I hated, because it didn’t have any song and dance in it. However, I took all constructive criticism on board. I felt encouraged by these comments, reworked the story further and renamed it simply as Lascar.

Writing Lascar made me realise that this is what I wanted to do. I have worked extremely hard to improve my writing, especially the structure and composition, the building of characters and the way in which they interact with each other. It can take years to develop a ‘style’ of writing, that comes only from practice.

I decided that I couldn’t carry on rewriting. I needed to move onto new projects, but it was difficult as my mind was solely focused on getting Lascar published, even though the publishing industry is as tough as ever. Nevertheless, I firmly believed that it would be published one day.

In 2009, I wrote a play based on the novel for Silsila Productions: The Lascar Seamen History Project. The Lascar is a teaching resource that includes a short radio play on audio CD with an accompanying activity pack, which explores the heritage of the Lascars.

In 2008, Lascar was shortlisted for the Muslim Writers Awards, Unpublished Novel Award and the Brit Writers Unpublished Novel Award in 2010. It was an opportunity to draw greater attention to my work.

In June 2011, I discovered a poetry publisher called Indigo Dreams Publishing. They were expanding into the fiction market, so I decided to submit my work to them. I felt as though I had exhausted all avenues of getting Lascar published, so I had nothing more to lose.

In September 2011, after 5 years of rejections and tears, I finally received a ‘yes’ from Indigo Dreams Publishing. At that time, I had actually forgotten that I had submitted to them! I was ecstatic. I didn’t tell anyone until I signed my contract, which was about three weeks later. I had dreamt about this day for years. Finally, Lascar was going to be published!

Lascar was published on 4th June 2012;  and is available from Amazon for £7.99.

Published in Asiana magazine online.

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My Publishing Journey

I’m a Cambridge based author, born and raised there. My father came from East Pakistan, (now Bangladesh) in 1957 and settled there. My father set up one of the first Indian restaurants in Cambridge in 1963. My mother came over in 1963, I was born two days after East Pakistan became Bangladesh. I have three older brothers and a younger twin sister. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 25.

I never planned to become an author. I was married off at the age of 18 in Bangladesh.  I now have four children; three sons Ibrahim, Imran , Aniq and a daughter Aminah. I started writing in 2003, after my daughter was born.  Let me tell you about my roller-coaster publishing journey.

I decided to write about a subject very close to my heart. It is the story of my son who grew up with a learning disorder. Ibrahim grew up with mild autism. He had a severe speech disorder; Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder.  Children with semantic difficulties have a very hard time understanding the meaning of words and sentences. He had difficulty understanding social situations and did not know what was expected of him.

I kept records of all of his reports. I wrote down Ibrahim’s difficulties and decided to turn it into a book. Autism wasn’t widely recognised in the Asian community in the 1990s. I couldn’t compare Ibrahim to any other child with autism in the Bangladeshi community. I felt very isolated. I also wanted to tell his story for other mothers who may be in a similar situation. I wanted to be heard, I felt that no one was listening to me. I was going through a difficult time with Ibrahim.

I tried many different publishers but soon discovered that it wouldn’t be published by a conventional publisher.  I wanted it published no matter what.  After much through and consideration I decided to self-publish, Self-publishing means when the author pays the publisher to publish the book.  So I launched my own publishing company, Perfect Publishers in 2005 with my brother  Kal and published my book, ‘Ibrahim – Where in the Spectrum Does He Belong?’ We publish books for authors who wish to self-publish,  I run my business from home, work around my children, choose the hours I wish to work and don’t have to answer to anyone! Be my own boss!   Yay! We all want that, don’t we! We outsource most of our work. We have a team of editors and graphic designers and they all work from home too. So we contact them via email. Although I have made mistakes and learnt from them. Some were costly mistakes! Ouch! How can you learn the trade without mistakes?!

Ibrahim is now 22. He has overcome most of his difficulties. He graduated from University last year; a major achievement in his life. His graduation day last year was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I don’t think I ever had a day like it!!

Self-publishing takes a lot of hard work and effort. It was hard to get my book out there especially being an unknown author.  That was the start of my publishing journey.

Next blog: Part 2 Climbing the publishing ladder

Published on Asiana online:

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