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My Publishing Journey Part 3

How Shahida Rahman’s first historical novel was finally published  

Posted: 06.09.13

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. 

www.shahidarahman.co.uk



 

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