Q&A: Trouble Selling Manuscript for Islamic Novel

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Assalaamu alaykum

I have a completed manuscript for an Islamic novel that i am having trouble selling across to mainstream publishers and agents. my blog though has thousands of followers with over a hundred thousand views.

Where can i try to send it to?

Can you answer this question? Please post your advice below.

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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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  1. As-salamu Alaykum,

    Although your question was posted on this site just yesterday, you actually submitted it quite a while ago. If you are still reading, I hope you come back to update us on your progress.

    You did not mention whether you have approached any “Islamic” publishers, but please see this page for a list of such publishers, including a few that publish novels.

    If you’re still attempting to go mainstream, check out this list of agents who are currently seeking out the work of Muslim writers. This is a new initiative that just began a couple of weeks ago, and I urge anyone seeking mainstream publication to examine this opportunity.

    Traditionally, those of us writing Islamic fiction have had difficulty getting accepted by mainstream publishers, and some question whether it is possible to do so without making certain compromises.

    In fact, there will be a Twitter chat dedicated to this topic on February 23, 2017 (see this tweet for details).

    You did not provide many details in your question, so we don’t know the reason(s) for your difficulty. Are the agents and publishers providing any feedback? Would they be open to taking a second look now that the political landscape has changed so dramatically? Or is there something about your writing that you personally need to work on, perhaps with the help of a good editor or group of beta-readers?

    If all else fails, it is possible to self-publish, and the fact that you have a large following on your blog is a positive in this regard. But even if you go this route, you want to make sure that you are producing your best work, so it is still important to get the feedback of others before putting your work out there.

    Hope this helps a bit as you (and others in the same situation) move forward in your quest for publication.

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Muslim Writers Club recently posted…Are You a Writer of Muslim Heritage? These Agents Want to See Your WorkMy Profile

  2. Dear brother or sister, wa alaykum as-salam.

    I am the author of the indie-published “Muslim fiction” novel Pieces of a Dream. I also hosted the recent workshop/seminar on fiction writing at the ICNA 2017 convention.

    I think you should consider indie publishing (self-publishing). The barriers to entry are very low, and with the help of a few professionals you can publish a quality book. Plus, since you own a popular blog, you can market your book on your blog. Also, as an indie publisher, you keep a much bigger percentage of the royalty payments. If you publish on Amazon, for example, you keep 70% (of the royalty, not the list price). A traditional publisher will give you far less.

    The most important of the services you will have to pay for is editing. A good editor will help you tremendously. He / she will advise you on plotting, language, consistency, character development and more.

    Here’s a very general breakdown of the costs to market for an indie publisher, assuming your novel is in the 70K to 90K words range:

    Editing – $150 to $350
    Proofreading – $50 to $100
    Cover Design – $75 to $250
    Typesetting (aka formatting or print design) – $100 to $200

    So yes, it adds up, but these are all one-time costs. If you want to do the research and you have the skills, you could do the cover design and formatting yourself. But you will definitely want to hire a good editor.

    You could also ask other writers or friends to peer-review your work before publication and give you suggestions.

    There are many avenues for indie publishing. I personally used CreateSpace for the paperback, and Kindle Direct for the ebook. I found both services relatively easy to use, though I had a few lessons to learn when it came to the paperback. I had to learn about things like trim size, cover image resolution and formatting, etc.

    May Allah grant you success in your endeavor.

  3. As-salamu Alaykum,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with self-publishing (especially the figures you provided), and congratulations on the publication of your novel, Pieces of a Dream. If desired, you can share more information about your book with the readers of this site by filling out the form on this page.

    There are pros and cons to each of the three methods of publishing mentioned above (traditional/mainstream, Islamic, and indie). In my opinion, some of the best Islamic fiction being produced today is self-published.

    Although this is slowly changing, Islamic publishers have been painfully slow to include this genre in their offerings – and traditional publishers have often shunned the work of Muslim authors due to the authentic Islamic elements which are not well understood (or even welcome in many cases) by the mainstream. With the current trends in #ownvoices publishing, we may start to see some changes through initiatives like the Open Call.

    There are certain benefits to being published with a traditional publisher, such as wider distribution and the chance for your book to be purchased by libraries, bookstores, schools, etc. – and while the royalties may be less, you also typically sell more books with a traditional publisher. Both The Gauntlet and Amina’s Voice, for example, have become best-sellers since they were released by Salaam Reads (a new imprint of Simon & Schuster) in March.

    There is something awesome, however, about indie-publishing and maintaining full control over your work – and we have many examples of successful independent publishers in the Muslim community to learn from. I love how Umm Zakiyyah, for example, has built up her own publishing empire.
    Amel recently posted…Q&A: Does My Book Qualify for the Open Call?My Profile

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