My Publishing Journey Part 4

The hardest part for Shahida was now beginning… 

Posted: 28.10.13

When I received the first proof copy of my book Lascar, I cried. It was such an emotional moment; it was like a dream, holding it in my hand, it just didn’t seem real. Although the book was now published, the hard work wasn't over; marketing it was the next step.

I held my first book launch in Waterstone’s, Cambridge on 6th June 2012, just after the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend celebrations; a proud moment for me. It was a sell-out event, during which I met many interesting people. It was amazing to see so many make the effort to support me. Talking about my book in front of an audience was something I thought I could never do and it took a lot of courage. However, once I got going, it was fine. At the end when I signed copies, my hand was shaking so much that I couldn’t write properly. One lady asked me, ‘Can you write to Judith, my love?’ I duly wrote, ‘To Judith my love’, only realising my error afterwards. I felt so embarrassed. This lady had just paid for that copy and I wrote in it incorrectly; an incident still imprinted on my mind!

I have talked about my book at many events and festivals in London, Trowbridge, Birmingham and Leicester, to name a few. I particularly enjoy meeting new people who are interested in my work. I used to dread the thought of standing in front of people, but I have now overcome that fear. It’s hard to remember everyone I have met, but I am so grateful to them for buying my book and reading my story. After all, I wrote it for people to read.

I then went on to co-author a screenplay called India Ink with US Screenwriter Halle Eavelyn. It was based on a short story I wrote called Homecoming. India Ink follows Ishra’s journey, from a naive nanny to an independent woman. Alone in a foreign land, facing prejudice against both her gender and race, Ishra overcomes all. She finds a home, a job and her own self-worth in the midst of the rise of the Suffragette Movement. It was shortlisted for the Circalit Story Department Contest and reached the finals of the Write Movies International Writing Contest 2011. The script hasn't yet been sold. Selling a script is more difficult than selling a novel, which is arduous enough especially when the publishing industry is more challenging than ever.

A couple of times, I have visited Waterstone’s and Heffers in my home town of Cambridge just to look at my novel on their shelf. There are thousands of books there, all waiting to be sold, all competing for customers' attention and giving hope to aspiring authors.
It’s not easy achieving recognition in the publishing world. I am one of many authors trying to launch a career; the majority won’t make a living from their books. What is most important to me is to be recognised for writing a story that will be read and enjoyed for years to come.
Publishing Lascar has opened many doors for me. I am regularly asked to contribute to my local BBC Radio station and write for several publications. 

Lascar has now come to an end but I am writing a series of children’s book for 5-7 year olds with a South Asian theme and am turning the script, India Ink, into an historical novel, whilst being mentored by successful authors.

Shahida Rahman

Next blog: Tips for aspiring authors. 

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