is that you start getting emails from people asking for help in getting published.

Every week now I’m starting to receive requests from people who’ve written a lovely book their best friend read and enjoyed and they want me to tell them which publishers to send it to and how to get it published.

A while back I used to be on an internet forum of published authors and so many of the authors would complain about these emails and I thought they were making a big deal about it.

I thought, ‘What’s the harm? There’s room for everyone’.

Um…I don’t feel like that any more.

It’s like what happens is that instead of people discovering the joy of reading some of my books, they discover that, hey, they’re brown, they’re Pakistani, if I can do it maybe they can too. And it’s got nothing to do with loving books and writing and everything to do with just trying to make a mark for themselves.

For years my attitude has been ‘nothing wrong with that, the more the merrier’, but the only problem is that these are people who haven’t done one iota of research.

They haven’t even checked out my website where I’ve gone to the trouble of writing an article called ‘How to get published’!

The information’s right there!

I even have links on my website to the same websites, the EXACT same websites, I used to research my foray into children’s literature here:

The best links on there for children’s writers are the Write4Kids site, the Children’s Book Council site and of course the SCBWI site!

Don’t get me wrong.

I have ALWAYS felt that we need a LOT more Muslim authors out there! We need more stories if we’re to humanize ourselves as a demographic.

And I have even gone as far as encouraging certain young writers I know to pursue a career.

But darn if I have time to hold someone’s hand and research which publishers would be the best fit for their manuscript!

How do I know which writers to encourage?


They’re writers who don’t look to me for things they can find themselves.

They research publishers. They research agents. They research writing!!!

They take initiative.

They’ve even told me a few things they’ve learned.

And the biggest quality I see in them is that they have the drive, the perseverance to make it in this ‘bunny eat bunny’ world of children’s publishing.

And ironically they are often the ones who have felt too shy to take me up on my offers to read their work and mentor them.

(I really don’t make that offer lightly! I have SUCH limited time! Between the writing, the editing, the blogging and all the business correspondence–PLUS my husband, kids and six grandchildren–I really don’t have the time to make idle offers to mentor people!)

These are people who seem to understand that as an author myself, I have a very limited amount of clout with publishers! Heck, they still reject my stories!

In this business it really isn’t who you know, it’s how good your writing is. (Who you know can get your work looked at but if the work doesn’t stand on its own merit–if it isn’t a piece of highly marketable drop dead gorgeous writing–then it won’t matter!)

The problem is everyone and their aunt thinks they can write a children’s book!

They are short and deceptively simple.

For anyone who is reading this, hoping to get their work published, I tell you I know EXACTLY how you feel!

It took eight years to get my first acceptance letter!

Eight long years of rejection after rejection and even getting kicked out of a writer’s workshop where the teacher thought I was ‘hopeless’.

And that was just to get my first book published!

Now after 23 years of working at this, I have eleven books published.

It’s been a long hard slog, and it’s only getting harder!

If I knew then what I know now, I’m not sure I would have continued, but I’ve invested way too much now to turn back.

And I always say, “If it never gets any better than this…this is pretty darn good, alhamdu lillah!”

I write these blog posts to shed light on the creative process!

I DO want people to learn from the mistakes I’ve made.

And I support the work of many many Muslim authors and artists especially with my Muslim Booklist.

In fact I’m currently reading some novels in the hopes of adding to it, and there are certain Muslim writers whose work I admire immensely! I’m planning on writing a blog post about that.

But I really am sick of emails asking me for information that is readily available on my site.

Do your own homework!

Then write your heart out!

Write something that ADDS to the collective wisdom out there–not just something that will take up space and clutter an already cluttered marketplace with drivel that makes your ego feel good.

And I hope insha Allah, to read your work in print!

I have heard of some authors composing standard replies to such queries.

These are authors who started out by being nice to the people inquiring.

I think the funniest request I received was from this lady who couldn’t spell and used terrible grammar. She said that she had this fantastic idea for a novel series. It would be a bestseller and be sold in Chapters! I could write it and we’d split the money 50-50.

I told her, “Why don’t you write it yourself? That way you can keep all the money for yourself!”

She replied, “My spelling and grammar isn’t so good.”

Oh boy.

 Uh huh. Never heard from her again! Thankfully.