In Conversation with Taliha Quadri

Posted in Neem Tree Blog on April 29, 2021

Taliha Quadri is a British Pakistani freelance editor based in Bedfordshire, England. She has been an editor for over six years and has worked as a proofreader for Hachette, Joffe Books and Bloomsbury. She is also the Events Officer for the Society of Young Publishers (UK). Taliha holds a First Class Honours degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Hertfordshire and a Master’s with Distinction in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh.

To start us off, what do you love most about the publishing industry?

I love that it’s incredibly creative and powerful because it influences culture and contemporary thinking, and it also reacts to it. This is an industry where people seek to inspire, bewitch, tug at heartstrings and educate, and that makes it resilient; people turn to books in good times, in bad times and in all the times in between. I also love working with other bookworms and having serious conversations about the need to sniff freshly printed books and how exciting cover reveals are.

How do you find working as a freelancer in the industry? Any advice you would give to someone who is considering going freelance?

I like having control over when and where I work, and which projects I accept. I’ve genuinely enjoyed reading every book I’ve edited!

People in freelancing are lovely too. It’s a lonely gig but I think other freelancers in the industry recognise that and make an effort to connect. I’ve even created a Slack channel called Freelancers Assemble with the sole purpose of it being a friendly space for publishing freelancers to connect – we have a ‘stet’ emoji and a ‘watercooler’ channel for the all-important memes and pictures of pets.

My advice would be to network and invest in training. If possible, begin networking before you train because word-of-mouth recommendations can go a long way.

What does your role as the SYP Events Officer involve?

I organise events such as panels, socials, networking events and conferences for members and non-members across areas of the UK and Ireland not covered by our regional committees. This involves coming up with ideas for event and then identifying potential hosts/speakers and contacting them, writing copy, working with the treasurer to plan event budgets, collaborating with the communications and social media officers, overseeing events officers from regional committees and assisting with some administration tasks related to events and awards. There’s lots to do! I share the role with Sarah Moore, so we get to bounce ideas off each other and divide tasks between us.

I’d love to know more about The Selkie! Could you tell us a bit about this project and how it came about?

The idea for The Selkie came about in 2018 while I was on the MSc Creative Writing course at The University of Edinburgh. My fellow co-founders were also fellow course-mates. All of us were passionate about seeing wider representation in publishing and wanted to help, so we launched a literary magazine to act as a platform to showcase talented writers from under-represented backgrounds.

In 2019, we officially registered The Selkie Publications CIC with a mission to help writers from under-represented backgrounds. Registering as a non-profit community interest company ensured any money we made went back into the company towards helping us fulfil our mission. It also opened us up to grants, so we now run workshops and additional services when we have the funds.

Favourite under the radar book(s)?

Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam. It’s set in a fictional town somewhere in the midlands in England, within a South Asian community. The disappearance of two star-crossed lovers Jugnu and Chanda sends ripples through the community and the story, told through the perspective of Jugnu’s brother Shamas, touches on deeply tragic subjects such as honour killings. It’s a dark tale of love, tradition and customs, and loss. Honestly, this book exhausted all my emotions and was the first book where I connected so strongly to the story because of the representation, so I highly recommend it – but with caution!

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights with Neem Tree Press, Taliha!

Taliha can be found on Twitter @talihawrites. We’d also love to connect with you @neemtreepress.