Are You a Writer of Muslim Heritage? These Agents Want to See Your Work

Dear Readers: Literary agents from dozens of agencies are inviting queries and submissions from Muslim writers. The links below contain agency guidelines and other valuable information. Please share with interested writers!

AGENCIES A to C

AGENCIES D to F

AGENCIES G to M

AGENCIES N to Q

AGENCIES R to S

AGENCIES T to Z

BACKGROUND:

Back in January, I told you about a group of literary agents who are inviting Muslim writers to send in our work for consideration in light of Trump’s “Muslim ban.”

As the sponsors of this initiative put it, this open call for stories will “bring increased understanding, tolerance, empathy and compassion in the world. We are seeking out these unheard voices so that others can hear them.”

Whether you write picture books, romance, humor, horror, science fiction, YA, non-fiction, or something else, there is an agent awaiting your submission! Are you as excited as I am?

The full list of participating agents is on this page. Please take a look so that you understand what this initiative is about, what the requirements are, and what type of work each agent is seeking. Then come back here to browse the guidelines.

Before you approach any of the agents on the list, please make sure that you do the following:

  • Visit the agency’s website in order to become acquainted with the type of work they represent.
  • Read about the specific agent you are interested in approaching.
  • Make sure you only approach agents who represent your genre. Although I am working to incorporate this information in the database of guidelines listed above, you should also consult this page. New agents are periodically added.
  • Read the submission guidelines listed for each agency, and follow them carefully. Also become familiar with the art of querying.
  • Notice the emphasis on reading. Read before you write! The first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was “Iqraa (Read)!” Literary agents are typically flooded with submissions, and yet they have extended their hand to our community. Let’s make the most of this incredible opportunity!

Finally, please come back to leave a comment if you succeed in gaining representation for your work. You may also leave questions and comments below to discuss any aspect of this initiative, to ask advice of other writers, etc.

In the meantime, happy querying!

BROWSE AGENCY GUIDELINES

AGENCIES A to C

AGENCIES D to F

AGENCIES G to M

AGENCIES N to Q

AGENCIES R to S

AGENCIES T to Z

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Amel

Amel is an experienced freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator. She started the Muslim Writers Club as a means of sharing useful information about the art (and business) of writing.
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24 Comments

  1. Assalamu ‘alaykum,

    I’m really excited about this opportunity, but I wanted to enquire. I live in Europe and I’ve started writing a book which I’ve set in England. Although I’ve written before (in academia), this is my first time writing a middle-grade novel and I’m curious, if agents who are predominantly in North America, do they take on international authors with works set in the UK or am I better off looking for someone closer to home?

    Best

    Umm Yasmin

  2. As-salamu Alaykum, Sister Umm Yasmin,

    That is a great question, and each agent probably has his or her own policies and preferences. Finding out these preferences may require you to discuss the issue with each agent on an individual basis.

    The following article talks about some of the considerations:

    How to Query Literary Agents from Other Countries

    Perhaps the most important sentence to highlight from the article is:

    If an agent falls in love with your manuscript and he or she feels there’s a place for it within their market, it probably won’t matter where you live. Pretty much everything that needs to be done can be done electronically.

    If the guidelines don’t specifically mention location, then you can’t go wrong with a query. Also keep in mind that this is a very special call for open submissions. This probably means that some of the normal “rules” don’t apply. The Twitter conversations I’ve seen regarding this call have been very encouraging, and I have not seen any mention of restrictions on location.

    So, I would just go for it. If things don’t work out for any reason, you still have options, insha’Allah.

    You may also wish to check out the book publishers on this page. Kube Publishing is located in the UK and may be of special interest to you.

    Insha’Allah you and others will come back to share your progress.

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Stand-Alone Novel vs. SeriesMy Profile

  3. Thank you, SD! What I wrote above still applies, but I also wanted to mention that some agencies include specific information about different types of rights, including foreign rights, on their websites. For example, on agent Laura Biagi’s bio. page (listed above), it says:

    Laura Biagi joined JVNLA in 2009. She is actively building her client list, seeking adult literary fiction, young readers’ books, and nonfiction. She also handles the sale of UK and Australian/New Zealand rights, as well as audio rights.

    Again, this doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to agents who specifically mention this issue, but it is also nice to have that extra piece of information when sending out your queries.

    Amel – MWC Admin

     
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Is it Halal to Receive Payment for Islamic Poetry?My Profile

    • As-salamu Alaykum, Sister Hiba,

      The nice thing about this opportunity is that it doesn’t just represent one opportunity with a set deadline. It is actually multiple opportunities with dozens of agents. Agents are always on the look-out for the next best-selling book, so this is an opportunity that won’t come to an end so long as there is interest from the reading public. Right now, people want to read diverse voices in general, and this includes the Muslim perspective and experience. Parents, educators, and librarians all want diversity for their bookshelves, and agents will continue to welcome submissions that serve this demand.

      Having said that, you should work quickly if interested. I’ve noticed that some of these agents are currently closed to “general” submissions but are keeping their inboxes open for this open call. You don’t necessarily have to think in terms of a specific deadline, but don’t be complacent either. Trends change very quickly in publishing, and we also don’t know how many stories/manuscripts each agent is seeking. If, for example, an agent has ten slots available for this type of work, these slots may fill up quickly while some of us are still contemplating the whole thing…so don’t let the train pass you by!

      Amel – MWC Admin
      Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Trouble Selling Manuscript for Islamic NovelMy Profile

  4. Hello! I have an amazing idea but I’m not like the best writer, although I have started to write it chapter by chapter mainly something for my kids to read later in life. But does matter that I’m not a professional writer? Will they deal with editing and such or would they not even consider me as an option because of the no experince?

    Thank you so much!

    • As-salamu Alaykum, Sister Lazeena,

      I don’t think an agent or publisher would necessarily reject a manuscript just because you are not a published writer. We all have to start somewhere! J.K. Rowling is just one example of a first-time writer who made it big with a debut novel.

      However, this doesn’t mean that agents and publishers want to see rough drafts that need a ton of work. It’s one thing to make the occasional typo and another thing entirely to show that you have made no effort on your own to polish your writing. We all occasionally garble sentences or make grammatical errors. That’s not really a problem in most cases. The bigger problem is when the ideas are illogical or disjointed, the language does not flow well, and the basic premise of the book or story is trite or boring.

      All manuscripts accepted by a mainstream publisher typically go through a rigorous editing process, but the manuscript will only get to that point if the core elements are in place. Agents and publishers also have to be convinced that your book will sell before they represent your work.

      This means you should always submit your best writing. Allow others to critique and edit your work before you send it out. Think like a reader, and make changes as necessary. Keep refining your work until you are personally satisfied that you have done everything possible to improve.

      Be honest with yourself regarding the above, but do NOT become paralyzed into inaction so that you never take risks with your writing. Finish your book, and query some of the agents on this list. See where that leads you. If you are driven enough, your amazing idea may one day be available for all of us to read!

      Amel – MWC Admin
      Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Publisher for Character Building CourseMy Profile

    • More encouragement for British writers:

      On her “wishlist” page, agent Molly Ker Hawn says:

      I represent authors in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., and I sell directly to American, Canadian, and British publishers. I’m a dual citizen of the U.S. and the U.K. and my ideal project is one that will work (like me!) in both markets, but that’s not a requirement. If you think your story is ‘very American’ or ‘very British,’  don’t let that stop you from querying me.

      Amel – MWC Admin
      Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Trouble Selling Manuscript for Islamic NovelMy Profile

  5. Thank you! Sorry I was nursing my son and typing one handed at the time.

    Finding time and motivation to write with 2 kids and a business is pretty tough. But I feel somewhat energized about getting back to writing with more passion and gusto!  And actually having the mindset that “maybe this could happen for me too”?

    Thanks! 👍

  6. Salam. My name id hasan I hamdan . If an agent has a wish list but my novel does not fit the wish list . Is it OK to submit it to him or her. Example is the agent  Lauren Abramo from Dystel,God Erich & Bourret.

    novel set in the contemporary Middle East that isn’t a thriller or chiefly about politics
    novels about the immigrant experience in the United States

    Thank alot

    • Salam Hasan,

      Regarding the agent you mentioned, these are only two items from her “wishlist” (which may or may not be current, especially as time goes by). I chose to highlight these since they are relevant to many Muslim writers, but if you follow the link, you will see that she is also open to other kinds of work.

      The main thing you want to do is make sure that you are querying agents who represent the type of novel you have written. For example, if you have written a horror novel, you should not be sending it to an agent who specializes in children’s picture books. If you write children’s picture books, you should not be querying agents who specialize in horror fiction, murder mysteries, and romance. If an agent represents adult fiction but says they don’t want any science fiction, don’t approach that agent with a sci-fi novel.

      Read each agent’s bio. and wishlist carefully to understand their needs and interests. Most of them are very detailed and provide great insights regarding what type of work they are seeking (and not seeking). As you read, you will probably feel a connection to some of them. Focus on agents who are a good match for your work.

      Amel – MWC Admin
      Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Finding a Publisher for my NovelMy Profile

      • Of course, right after I wrote that, I came across an agent who represents both children’s picture books and adult thrillers. I have also found a few agents saying “surprise me.” This just shows that every agent is unique. But I still feel that it is very important to respect what each agent is communicating via their guidelines, websites, tweets, etc. You don’t want to be “that” writer who thinks the guidelines don’t apply to them!

        Amel – MWC Admin
        Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Partially Complete Manuscript and Submitting to More than One AgentMy Profile

    • Hi Lazarinth,

      I will assume that your comment is meant to be humorous.

      Something I would like to point out is that these agents are still representing authors of all backgrounds and faiths (including those of no faith) – and there was never anything to stop Muslims from querying these agents (and others) in the first place.

      Traditionally, however, many Muslim writers have hesitated to submit their work to mainstream publishers, feeling that their writing is too “niche” to be accepted. In addition to promoting tolerance and diversity, this initiative is opening the door to new (previously unheard) voices, which I believe is a good thing.

      There is a push right now towards #OwnVoices writing. The basic premise is that people who actually belong to a specific group (whether they are Muslims, Mormons, African Americans, people with autism, etc.) are inherently the most qualified to write about their own communities, cultures, and experiences. This results in a richer experience for the reader, who is exposed to an authentic slice of “X” culture or thought.

      Although this idea is not totally new, there hasn’t been very much #OwnVoices Muslim writing in mainstream publishing, and most of us feel very frustrated by the stereotypes of Muslims commonly seen in novels and films. With this initiative, we’re now being given the green light to combat these stereotypes.

      In the end, however, the writing still has to be good. I don’t believe there will be any compromise on that point.
      Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Trouble Selling Manuscript for Islamic NovelMy Profile

  7. Salam Everyone,

    Since we discussed editing a bit above, I wanted to clarify that a novel should really be in tip-top shape before you start querying agents or publishers. Like I said, we all make occasional typos or other mistakes, but it is extremely important to prepare a manuscript that meets high standards of written English. Most publishers will not accept a manuscript that requires heavy editing.

    Many writers in the Muslim community speak English as a foreign language and thus face extra challenges – but even some native speakers of English have difficulty with grammar. Before you send out your work, have someone evaluate it. You need to know where you stand, and whether you require the assistance of a professional editor.

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Halal Job Opp: Freelance Article Writer & Submitter Required in IndiaMy Profile

  8. UPDATE:

    Salam Everyone,

    The site kept crashing each time I made an update, so I decided to separate the list of agency guidelines into multiple pages. So far, this solution seems to be working.

    On February 23, 2017, a Twitter Chat on the following topic is scheduled to take place:

    Is Mainstream Publishing Best for Native Born Muslim Fiction Authors?

    You can find other events of interest to Muslim Writers on this page of the site.

    Finally, have you written a book? If so, you can share it with the readers of the Muslim Writers Club by filling out the form on this page.

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Featured Book: One Day – Around the World in 24 Hours, by Suma DinMy Profile

  9. Salam Everyone,

    As I was browsing through the list of agents, I noticed that many of them also need illustrators for picture books and other projects. It would be great if those of you who are active on Facebook and other social media platforms could share this angle with any Muslim artists you know – and thank you to everyone who has shared this page with their writing friends as well.

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Want to Earn Passive Income as a Writer? Join Me on my New Money-Making Adventure!My Profile

    • As-salamu Alaykum, Shireen,

      Thank you for this important and relevant question.

      If you read the original invitation, the focus seems to be on inviting Muslim writers to submit their work (regardless of genre or topic). There is no mention of Muslim characters or Islamic themes.

      Although I don’t have any “insider” information regarding the intent of the initiative (we’d have to discuss this with the sponsors and participating agents to be sure), my sense is that it is meant to demonstrate and celebrate the value that Muslim writers bring to all forms of literature in general.

      That is why, for example, the UK-based Comma Press announced that, in 2018, it would only translate books by authors from the seven countries named in Trump’s executive order (widely known as the “Muslim ban”). It has nothing to do with the literature being “Islamic.”

      And as the sponsors of the Open Call have said:

      We are a group of literary agents having an open call for book submissions by Muslim writers. We all agree that the current political climate demands a need for a greater presence of authors of Muslim heritage in the book marketplace. We are taking action to help make that happen.

      Having said that, I am definitely seeing a lot of interest from agents in Muslim characters as part of the #ownvoices and #weneeddiversebooks movements. People want to read authentic stories written about Muslims by Muslims. There is an unprecedented demand for this right now.

      So, whether you have written a novel, chapter book, or picture book with Muslim characters (or no Muslim characters), or another type of work entirely (such as a career manual or a wacky guide to New York City)…query these agents by following the guidelines laid out on each agency website. Also remember:

      For your manuscript to be considered, please include “Open Call” in the subject line of your email.

      This guideline doesn’t mean that you can’t query any of the above agents as any author would in regular circumstances. The special subject line is just to alert agents that your submission is in response to the Open Call. As I mentioned above, some agents are currently closed to submissions but are making exceptions for this initiative.

      If anyone has anything to add to this, please do!

      Amel – MWC Admin
      Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Q&A: Partially Complete Manuscript and Submitting to More than One AgentMy Profile

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