My Publishing Journey Part 1

Author Shahida Rahman shares the story of how she self-published her debut novel 

Posted: 03.06.13

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 also publish books for other 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 your own boss - 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. I have made mistakes and learnt from them. (Some were costly mistakes! Ouch!) But how can you learn the trade without mistakes?

Ibrahim is now 22. He has overcome most of his difficulties and graduated from university last year; a major achievement in his life. His graduation day last year was a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Self-publishing takes a lot of hard work and effort. It was hard to get my book out there especially being an unknown author. But that was just the start of my publishing journey…
Twitter: @shahidarahman

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