Neem Tree Blog

In Conversation with Taliha Quadri

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.

In Conversation with Amy Wong

This week’s instalment of Publishing Insiders features Amy Wong, production controller at Bloomsbury. Originally from Lincolnshire, Amy has worked at various independent publishing houses and is the former Vice-Chair of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) UK.

What made you choose a career in publishing?

The obvious answer would be my love of books! However, my involvement with one of the student newspapers at university also led me to publishing. While I soon realised I didn’t want to be a journalist, I really liked the collaboration involved, editing and discussing ideas for articles, laying out pages, and watching each issue come together with the knowledge that it would be read by other people. Publishing seemed like a good way to combine what I enjoyed about the student newspaper, the skills I gained from it and of course, my love of books.

It took me a while to understand what publishing actually is though. Going to industry events (thanks to a New Writing North scheme) and doing various work experience placements and internships helped to demystify it. It was meeting people who already worked in the industry that really convinced me publishing was a viable career option for someone like me.

Did you always want to work in Production? What was your experience finding your first job like?

Not at all! Like a lot of people, I originally thought I wanted to work in Editorial, ideally in academic publishing, but I knew it was important to keep an open mind. As a result, I applied for an Editorial Assistant job at Sweet Cherry Publishing, a children’s publisher based in Leicester. After my interview, I was offered a job as an Editorial and Production Assistant, mainly because of my experience with the student newspaper, which meant I had some basic InDesign skills. (This isn’t necessary for a lot of Production jobs though!)

I often found myself talking about the student newspaper during interviews even though I had publishing experience. I think people often worry that they need to do loads of internships to get a job in publishing, but a lot of the skills you need can be gained in other ways.

Despite not really knowing much about Production at the time, I accepted the job at Sweet Cherry Publishing and it worked out for the best. I ended up enjoying the Production half of my job more than the Editorial side, but found there was a lot of overlap in the skills they required.

What do you love most about working in production? What makes it unique from other publishing departments?

The thing I love most is seeing finished copies of the titles I’ve worked on. I think what makes Production unique is that it really makes you appreciate the physicality of a printed book and the overall package – not just elaborate finishes (although I won’t say no to a bit of foil!) but also the paper, the binding, the text design. I’m sure I’ve attracted many strange looks by inspecting books so closely in public!

You’ve worked at various independent publishing houses. How do you feel the size of a publishing house impacts your day-to-day at work?

I think starting my career at Sweet Cherry Publishing, which was made up of about ten people at the time I joined, really forced me out of my comfort zone. In smaller companies, there’s often less of a distinction between departments so I ended up wearing a few different hats and I was given a lot of responsibility early on due to the size of the team – for example, I ended up managing audiobooks!

I learnt a lot at Sweet Cherry Publishing, but I think moving into a Production-specific role at Bloomsbury allowed me to really focus on developing my print production knowledge. I now handle a greater number of frontlist titles per year – not just for Bloomsbury UK, but also for Bloomsbury USA and Bloomsbury Australia – and I enjoy getting to work on such a wide variety of genres. However, the way I interact with my titles is very different these days. For example, I used to typeset titles myself at Sweet Cherry Publishing whereas typesetting is handled by external suppliers at Bloomsbury.

Working on adult books is also very different to working on children’s books!

What are you most proud of in your publishing career so far?

One of the things I’m proudest of is being UK Vice-Chair of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) last year. The SYP supports people who are either trying to get into publishing or who are in the early stages of their career. It felt great to be able to make a difference and help people.

Favourite book(s) you’ve worked on at Bloomsbury?

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke will always be one of my career highlights – it was a huge honour to work on such a highly anticipated and special book, and I learnt a lot during the process.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is also on my list of favourites because it’s the book I feel best reflects my journey at Bloomsbury. I started off as a Production Assistant working on reprints and it was great to see it take off as more and more copies were requested. The Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year edition was the first special edition I handled from the beginning and then later I produced the various paperback editions.

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

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

 

In Conversation with Katalina Watt

Katalina Watt is an author and publisher based in Edinburgh. She currently works in Audio and Digital for Canongate Books, an award-winning independent publisher, and as Audio Director for khōréō, a quarterly magazine of speculative fiction elevating voices of immigrant and diaspora authors. She received the Literature Alliance Scotland Next Level Award for future leaders in the book industry in 2020. Her fiction was Longlisted for Penguin Write Now 2020 and has been published in various anthologies and magazines including Haunted Voices, Unspeakable, and Extra Teeth.

Hi, Katalina! Thank you so much for speaking with Neem Tree Press. Could you tell us a bit about your journey into publishing?

I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2015 with an English Lit degree and obtained my first role in publishing through Creative Access working in audio for Little Brown Book Group, part of Hachette. It was an excellent introduction to publishing and I received immense support both from Creative Access and my colleagues at Hachette. After that, I moved to Canada and worked for a couple of years in bookselling and events for an independent children’s bookshop, which gave me valuable insight into the North American market.

When I returned to the UK, I did my MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. While completing my masters I worked in events and bookselling for local award-winning Golden Hare Books. This was a great opportunity to become immersed in the local literary community and meet generous authors, readers, publishers, and booksellers.

At the tail-end of postgrad degree I was offered a position at Canongate Books in their audio and digital department. I’ve been there since 2019, undertaking my new role as Audio and Digital Executive at the start of 2021. I joined the newly formed khōréō team as Audio Director at the end of 2020 and we launched our first issue in spring 2021.

What do you love most about working in audio? Which elements make it unique from other publishing roles/departments?

Working in audio is a hybrid role which means in a smaller team you get to hone skills across editorial, production, sales, rights, marketing, and design. I really enjoy working closely across departments in-house but also externally with producers at studios, audiobook narrators, literary and talent agents, and of course with authors. Audio is an adaptation and casting the right voice for each project is one of my favourite parts of the role. The performance of the narrator can bring the story to life and make you relate to the text in a new way. At the best of times, it’s like bottled theatre.

Audio is an area of publishing which continues to grow and innovate. As well as audiobooks we have thriving communities around podcasts, audio dramas, and other forms of immersive narratives. I’m hopeful publishing will collaborate more with other industries such as interactive theatre, tech, and video gaming to find new exciting avenues for digital storytelling in the future.

For someone starting out in their first publishing role, what advice/tips would you give them?

– Keep an open mind about your future in the industry and think outside the box. There are many transferrable or overlapping skills for different roles and departments.

– As a former bookseller and event organiser, I’d advise attending and getting involved with events! Many festivals, conventions, and bookshop events are taking place digitally and there may be scope to get involved with aspects such as programming, chairing, and bookselling. It’s a great way to understand the market, network within the industry, and chat directly with readers about what they’re excited for and why.

– Reach out to folk in the industry with specific questions if you’d like to. Social media can be helpful for this and most people are happy to chat or point you in the direction of resources or other connections. However, ensure you’ve read their previous interviews/articles and are asking something specific e.g. if you’re interested in Publicity and are approaching a publicist, find out what authors they’ve worked with and research their campaigns to help you craft specific questions.

– Stay up to date with industry news and learn about different roles and departments to see which may be a good fit for you. Read The Bookseller but also newsletters like The FLIP, In the Read, and podcasts such as Publishing Insight.

– Get involved with networks such as The Society of Young Publishers, Publishing Hopefuls, and BookMachine, and newsletters such as The Indie Insider, The Publishing Post, and The Publishing Planet to name a few. This is an industry built on interpersonal relationships, but there’s more than one way of networking. Find what’s comfortable for you.

As a woman of colour in the publishing industry, what are some of the unique challenges you’ve had to face that your white colleagues have not?

Race is often more visible than other identity markers but my experience in publishing is inherently linked to the intersections of my identity – many aspects of which have also been traditionally marginalised and underrepresented alongside race. My experiences will echo those of other women of colour, but we are not a monolith and I think it’s important when discussing EDI to remember that.

In my time in publishing the conversations around accessibility and representation have become more transparent, more nuanced, and the improvements more tangible. I’m grateful there are more people in positions of power, influence, and decision-making who reflect a wider range of backgrounds and experiences. That being said, we still have a long way to go and there’s plenty of research and resources which break down the data to show us the work we need to do.

What are you most proud of in your publishing and/or writing career so far?

In 2020 I was Longlisted for the Penguin Write Now programme for my fiction, and I was also awarded the Next Level Award for career development by Literature Alliance Scotland. Both these programmes have supported me with growing my creative and professional practice. I’ve worked with talented mentors and industry connections to shape my future career plans and received training to hone and develop my skillset.

As a mentor myself, I’m passionate about sharing knowledge and resources and creating opportunities for emerging writers and publishers, therefore I’m immensely proud and grateful to have received this support and guidance.

Favourite book(s) you’ve worked on at Canongate?

Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden narrated by the author

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith narrated by Marli Siu

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd narrated by Tilda Swinton and Robert MacFarlane

 

Forthcoming titles in production:

Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles narrated by the author, winner of the Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

The Startup Wife by Tahmina Anam

 

Finally, I’d love to know which books have had the greatest impact on your life?

This was such a difficult question but here is a selection of books I find often find myself gifting and recommending and certain passages or images have stayed with me years after reading:

 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin

Sabriel by Garth Nix

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

 

Thank you so much for giving such thoughtful, detailed answers, Katalina. We’re excited to continue following your career!

 

 

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

*

Thank you all for reading. Keep an eye on our social media pages for upcoming instalments of Publishing Insiders. We have lots of wonderful interviewees coming up soon!

In Conversation with Tanja Goossens

For our first instalment of Publishing Insiders, a new interview series on the blog, we spoke with Tanja Goossens, TV extraordinaire-turned-publishing professional. I connected with Tanja through Twitter and the Publishing Hopefuls Facebook Group (a wonderful community for those of you trying to break into the industry). We actually both made it to final round interviews for a role at Curtis Brown, where Tanja now works. She kindly connected me with Archna Sharma, founder of Neem Tree Press, and this led to my current position as Publishing Assistant. The value of networking in this industry cannot be understated, nor can the supportive, generous nature of publishing folks. I’m excited to share our interview below.

Hi Tanja! Thank you for doing this interview with Neem Tree Press. First of all, congratulations on your new job at Curtis Brown. Could you tell us a bit about your route into publishing and what inspired you to seek out a role in Rights?

My route into publishing was pretty long. I graduated from my Bachelor’s in Media in The Netherlands in 2012 and worked in television until I moved to London in June 2017. Soon after starting a job as Account Manager, I realised I didn’t want to return to television anymore and decided to change my career path. Being a voracious reader (something you’ll find in many job ads!), I applied for an MA in Publishing and started at Oxford Brookes University in 2018. I studied part-time, in order to work alongside it to pay the bills, so I didn’t apply for internships or work experience at first. Halfway through my second year, I started applying for internships and jobs. I got two interviews for an internship and an assistant role, but then… COVID-19 happened. There were no vacancies for about 4 months. It seemed hopeless. Luckily, from last summer onwards, vacancies appeared again, and I landed another interview in September. I didn’t get the job, was heartbroken, but continued. After dozens of rejections and four more unsuccessful interviews, I reached out to one of my former lecturers, who matched me with Clare and Ruth from Rights Consultancy Rights2. With a lot of transferable skills in my back pocket already, I gained some more applicable experience there. When I was invited for an interview with Curtis Brown shortly after, it turned out to be a great match. I accepted a job there as Translation Rights Executive in early December.

As someone who found the application process for publishing roles absolutely gruelling (and at times honestly a bit soul-destroying), it could be tough finding the drive to keep applying. How difficult was it for you to land a role in publishing? What kept you motivated during your application period?

I must give a lot of credit to my boyfriend here. His positive ‘don’t give up, you’ll get there’ attitude pulled me through. Another thing that helped me a lot was the Publishing Hopeful Facebook Group. I’ve connected with some lovely people, made friends, and most of them have jobs now. I don’t want to sugar-coat it; the publishing industry is highly popular and there aren’t enough jobs, but passion and perseverance do help! Also, don’t beat yourself up for feeling down after a rejection. The only way I could move forward is to allow myself to feel down for a day or two, and then pick up where I left off.

I’m curious now that you’re working in your dream role, what parts of your job have matched your expectations and what parts have perhaps been a bit different from what you expected?

The job absolutely matched my expectations and beyond! I’m very lucky to have a manager that not only lets me do admin tasks (which is a big part of the job), but I also get to sell rights in some territories already. We’re now preparing for the virtual meetings we’re doing at the end of the month as our own Spring Book Fair.

Working remotely has of course been tough for everyone. I would imagine as someone starting out in a role (and not being able to meet new colleagues face-to-face), it must present some unique challenges. How has your experience been so far?

It was very strange at first and getting job training over video calls could be quite draining. However, Curtis Brown started working from home a year ago, so everyone was already used to it and could integrate me easily. The company regularly checks in with everyone, making sure the working conditions at home are good, and there are people to reach out to when you’re not feeling well in the current climate, which I really appreciate. It’s a shame I haven’t met any of my colleagues in real life, but maybe we’ll be lucky enough to meet for a picnic in the park in the spring!

What are some positive changes you would like to see within the publishing world in the next few years?

The biggest silver lining for me is that companies (not just in publishing) are finally seeing that their employees work well from home. In an ideal world – and I think this is very likely to happen – we’ll work part-time in the office and part-time from home. This is not feasible for everyone and I’m confident that companies will make sure the office is always open, but most people will enjoy the time and money saved on their daily commute.

It has also opened up a broader world for people that aren’t able to come to an office, for example, anyone with a disability or impairment that can’t easily travel. Also, we’re not bound to publishing-heavy London anymore. Less commuting means you can live further out and therefore have a much more affordable living situation. I really hope this helps to make our industry much more diverse and inclusive.

Any final words of wisdom/advice for publishing hopefuls out there?

Don’t give up! I know it’s tough out there and I hated people telling me this, but perseverance is really key in getting into this industry. Learn from rejections, try to take any feedback onboard (if any is provided) and learn from each other. We are a very lovely bunch and very happy to help and to advise.

A quick Neem Tree Press-related question to round us off: Which one of our titles stands out to you most as one you’d like to read?

That would definitely be Distant Signs. I recently read two books about post-war Germany and during the iron curtain and am fascinated stories set during that time.

Excellent choice! Thank you so much for answering our questions. Best of luck with everything at Curtis Brown!

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

*

Keep an eye on the blog for future interviews with publishing professionals from various departments and with an eclectic mix of paths into the industry. We’ve got some excellent ones coming up. Stay tuned!

Amazing Authors, Prize Shortlists, Grants and Testing Democracy

We’ve been mesmerized by the incredulous twists and turns in the 2020 US presidential election saga. It made us appreciate the strength of the US judiciary and brought home how precious democracy is and that it should never be taken for granted.

London is still under lockdown. With darkness setting in close to 5p.m. and with just a few restaurants open for takeout or delivery, the streets are eerily quiet where normally you’d expect a bustling crowd. Weekends still see a huge number of cyclists in the streets due to the relative paucity of cars, one good thing to have come out of the Covid crisis. The recent vaccine announcements are certainly welcome and provide some illumination on the horizon and hopefully, a pathway to normality. As the UK contemplates cutting it’s overseas aid budget, and with economic pressure on all world economies, we wonder what the employment situation will be like in Spring and beyond.

Among all this though, we have a lot to be grateful for. We have been so much in awe of many of our hard-working authors. Phil Bowne has been tireless in seeking out avenues to promote Cows Can’t Jump. His enthusiasm and drive has lead to some wonderful reviews and opportunities for publicity. The book trailer is really quite marvellous Cows Can’t Jump Book Trailer and his podcast on BBC Radio Gloucestershire has landed him a four hour slot on their evening show! The reviews have been wonderful, from Tripfiction “We read a huge number of books throughout the year. Sometimes we get a debut author with a stand out talent and I think this is one such example”; from The Express UK  “A fabulous debut steeped in the wit and prose of a bullish veteran…almost impossible to put down” and many Goodreads reviews note the perfect balance between humour and tragedy, the poignancy in the novel and almost universal connection with the protagonist. As a Waterstones reviewer summed it up, “At times witty and at times profound, at times outright kooky, I’d recommend this to all book lovers.” Phil is already working on this second book.

Hafsa Lodi, author of Modesty: A Fashion Paradox, tireless, steady and always willing to engage with podcasters, reviewers, press. She has systematically continued to promote the book while of course continuing her work as a journalist and being a mother to a high-energy little one. Her IG live interview with @summaiyyabooks was wonderful. Take a listen. Hafsa Lodi’s Interview with IG @sumaiyyabooks

We are also thrilled about our translators Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp and Sue Copeland’s addition to the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize shortlist for their wonderful translation of Ahlam Bsharat’s Trees for the Absentees. For a (very) small press, to sit next to books by university presses and large publishers, is very exciting indeed! The Banipal Translation Prize 2020 Shortlist And Ahlam is also running a creative writing workshop at the now online inaugural Ahlam Bsharat – Palestine Writes Festival!

Paula Darwish, translator from the Turkish of Children of War by Ahmet Yorulmaz, did a fabulous review with Intralingo on YouTube:  Intralingo Interview  and the interview also features on the Intralingo World Lit Podcast. Of course, the ramifications of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the Treaty of Sèvres, the resolution of territorial divides post WW1 with the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, as well treaties in place after WW2 still keep this history very much in the news. And, of course, a different refugee crisis now rages in the region.

We also know that Keith Carter, author of The Umbrella Men, is hard at work on his second novel and we can’t wait to see the first draft!

And we are really excited to have just learnt that we’ve secured a translation grant from the Romanian Cultural Institute for our translation of The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti! This is such a magical and atmospheric book and we can’t wait to publish it in our Autumn list next year!

The Awakening

We’ve been a little paralyzed by the lock-down and have found ourselves navigating Dr Seuss’s surreal Waiting Place. We too have been ‘waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No’, but of course, our hair certainly grew! We have, however, recovered fully from this reverie and are focused on our autumn publications and beyond.

The lock-down dealt a severe body-blow to our first non-fiction book. With events being key to raising the profile of a debut author and a young publisher, having to cancel talks at SOAS, the London Fashion Institute with Professor Reina Lewis, attendance at the Muslim Shopping Festival and the Stella Live event, among many others, was truly gutting. Even as we list all these, and there were radio interviews set up that also had to be cancelled, we realize we will just have to stop moping, dust ourselves off and push onwards.

We are incredibly lucky with Hafsa Lodi, the author of Modesty: A Fashion Paradox. She has been truly tireless and amazing with her persistence in seeking out podcasts and any and all online events for publicity purposes during these tough times. With help from our US and UK publicists and with perseverance from Hafsa, the book has secured an amazing mention from  Harper’s Bazaar US under ‘ The Best Fashion Books Of All Time — Fashion Memoirs, Coffee Table Books‘ (see slide 3!) and  An Excerpt From Fashion Journalist Hafsa Lodi’s Book | Teen Vogue and numerous other outlets. Here Hafsa lists all the publicity the book has received to date, Modesty: A Fashion Paradox | Journalist in a Jumpsuit . We’d also love to ask everyone that we’ve sent review copies to please write and add the reviews on any and all online platforms. Reviews are the life-blood of small independent publishers and books can sell, or not, based on reviews.

We are very excited about our new author, Phil Bowne, debuting with Cows Can’t Jump in September. His work has been aptly described as ‘youthful, irreverent and topical’ and will be a much-needed antidote to the gloom of Covid. In addition, Children of War will come out in the US in October. We’ve received some fabulous reviews from Anne Cater’s book tour in late March. From @MeredithRankin2, “This book dazzled and fascinated me. I felt as if Yorulmaz and I were sitting in a cafe, chatting over strong Turkish coffee. And then I fell silent, mesmerized as the old man recounted stories from his life, leisurely…I highly recommend this book to those who like historical or literary fiction, or those who like to read about immigration/immigrants.”

We’ve just finished an instagram blog tour for The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder and David Ross. Again, some absolutely fabulous reviews, and we hope these wonderful social media reviews lead to book sales. The second book in the series, The Three Hares: The Gold Monkey Key, will be out in Spring 2021. We will also be publishing the Arabic Trees for Absentees by Ahlam Bsharat and will promote the books together to Arabic departments at universities looking to add more accessible and shorter novels to reading lists.

We are actively seeking submissions for literary fiction, historic fiction and non-fiction proposals, and would love to receive submissions from minority writers. We will be putting out a call on social media next week and hope we can continue adding to our growing list of wonderful authors!

Spring Fever

We are hunkering down in central London and had been venturing out to a few (small) meetings, but as of tomorrow, this will be stopping completely for a while. It’s certainly a very surreal time. We’ve been amazed at the prescient TED talk that Bill Gates gave in 2015 Bill Gates: The next outbreak? We’re not ready | TED Talk. As we all do our best to follow directions to minimize the spread of the virus, particularly to vulnerable family and friends, we would ask everyone to remember that not having access to food, shelter and healthcare is the norm for the vast, and growing, number of refugees worldwide. Not in any way at all to minimize the scale of the Coronavirus’s impact in our own communities and its potential devastating effect on our elderly and medically vulnerable population, as of 2019, there were over 70 million refugees worldwide and undoubtedly, should the virus run rampant through a refugee camp, the results would be truly catastrophic.

As we see small and large businesses suffer and the negative trajectory on all stock markets, our thoughts go out particularly to those who rely on daily cash wages to make ends meet. Even without being affected directly with the virus, there will be many lives in all our communities that will need a helping hand. We wonder how long it will take for our lives to normalize and whether this is a true watershed moment which will truly impact how we deal with each other in the future.

We have two books launching into this Spring fever in the UK and Europe – Modesty: A Fashion Paradox by @hafsalodi on March 19th and Children of War by Ahmet Yorulmaz translated by @PaulaDarwish_en, on March 26th. We hope to reschedule the events that have needed to be cancelled and recognize publicity and marketing will undoubtedly be affected by the current situation.

We’ve received a starred review for Modesty by the American Library Association! We are unable to link to the review till early April, but can say that “Starred ReviewsThe Booklist star indicates an outstanding title of a particular genre. All starred reviews are approved by the appropriate editor.” We’ve also had a great review from Publisher’s Weekly! “Journalist Lodi debuts with a nuanced and insightful study of the “modest fashion movement” in the Muslim world and beyond.” And so far, all five star reviews on Goodreads.

Children of War is the first translation into English of the book by Ahmet Yorulmaz. It is one of very few books written about the Greek / Turkish population exchange resulting from the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The book’s authenticity lies in the fact that the author drew inspiration from three diaries left by a refugee who had undergone this journey. We are looking forward to the #RandomThingsTours blog tour for the book starting on March 26th organized by the amazing @AnneCater! We will be doing a US blog tour for the book with @HFVBT and the lovely Amy!

We look forward to talking about our Autumn list later but wonder if publishing (and other) calendars will need to be pushed out into 2021?

Wishing everyone a very safe and healthy few months ahead.

‘Modest Fashion’ Is An Emotive Phrase

This is our first blog post of the new year and it’s already February 3rd, Brexit ‘has happened’ and we’ve had a national press article by the author of our first non-fiction book, Modesty: A Fashion Paradox. Hafsa Lodi Shares Her ‘Modest’ Fashion Hacks As soon as the article came out, we saw the comments and shares climb. Many comments were positive, some quite the opposite. The word ‘modest’ as related to women’s clothes is very contentious. What is ‘immodest’ and who decides? I would urge you all to read the book and gain an interesting insight into this huge and growing retail category! And we are so excited to be going to Dubai for the Emirates Literature Festival and are looking forward to attending the panel discussion on the book.

Children of War, to be published in March, is a beautiful novel set during a traumatic period in Crete’s history, the ramifications of which are still being felt today through Muslim refugees from Syria retracing their roots to Greece or the Greek islands. The novel asks us to consider notions of identity – what makes us Greek or Turkish or British? How many generations does it take before you are considered to be ‘from’ a place? This is an interesting article highlighting how era is still so relevant today: Europe’s Forgotten Greek Muslims .

We are looking for 11-12 year old reviewers for the first book in our Three Hares Series – The Jade Dragonball. If you have any suggestions – please let us know! The best way to contact us is through social media @neemtreepress.

We are submitting Trees for the Absentees for a number of awards and keeping our fingers crossed! And we are collating wonderful reviews for Toletis – a book we feel is so much in sync with the times with its message of eco-activism.

We’ve been hard at work signing up or commissioning books for 2021. We are also in the market for someone interested in getting involved with all aspects of the business! Running a small publishing is incredibly hardback – but very interesting and rewarding!

Till next week!

Marketing Mode and Nike’s High-Tech Modest Swim Wear

We’ve been trying to figure out what are the best marketing and publicity tactics – what will actually make people press the buy button and, importantly, which ones are the most cost-effective. Without the huge marketing machine of the behemoths, we are testing and venturing into all sorts of waters: school reading groups, blog tours, library email lists, online publications, endorsements (preferably from famous personalities), traditional publicists to secure reviews and radio interviews with major national (if we are lucky) and local news outlets, Christmas lists, giveaways and whatever else we can think of.

We have an update for Distant Signs with a wonderful interview by Anne Richter on The Author’s Show Anne Richter on The Authors Show . Our publicist for The Umbrella Men and Distant Signs, Literally PR, have added the books to this Christmas List They have also entered  The Umbrella Men for this competition at 50 Connect to win signed copies of the book.

50 Connect Competition

Hafsa Lodi, the author of Modesty: A Fashion Paradox, moderated a panel of Arab women athletes at the launch of Nike’s new high-tech modest swim wear. Watch the official Nike Make Waves with New Inclusivity Swimwear Range Watch the official Nike Make Waves with New Inclusivity Swimwear Range

 

Till next week!