We’re delighted you’re here! You’re just a few clicks away from joining the ‘net’s oldest community for writers… and certainly the friendliest. Click the “Register” button to create a free account. See you in the Colony!

  • Clichés & Tropes! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! Share your opinion in the latest Craft Chat, live now until Saturday

Fanfare A Litopian friend's journey to publication

News XX genotypes, go forth and be hilarious

7 Notable Writing Conferences in January 2019

Not open for further replies.


A new member has asked a question @WordPeach. (Please feel welcome to introduce yourself in Cafe Life)

Question addressed to @Madz

"I'd love to learn how you went about getting published by a big league author (apart from the obvious fact that your book is superb). What is the top level piece of advice you can give that could shift a good writer with a good novel into a novelist with a renowned publisher?"

I assume this question refers to I Am Thunder. BUT

Cue FANFARE.......

@Madz has done it again with a second YA book coming out soon Kick The Moon.

Meanwhile, for the benefit of newer members, this, from Litopia's archives; Madz's account of his journey to publication.

"In 2014 I finished a YA fantasy novel which took a ridiculously long time to write as I created an entire world with its own special rules and inhabitants. I sent it out on submission in roughly batches of fives. My current agent responded within just two weeks (something that I would forever be grateful for). It wasn't an offer. She didn't even want to see the rest of my ms. But she DID praise my writing and gave me some awesome tips, stating that she'd definitely like to see it again once I'd revised it. It was the one thing that kept me going in the face of having other agents tell me how bad my writing was.

By the time my ms was revised, my ethereal agent had left the agency. :eek: There was talk she was setting up her own agency but no one knew for sure. So I sent my ms out to other agents. It was a soul-destroying process with some VERY rude responses. Three times I came tantalisingly close, with agents requesting a full read through, but alas I kept failing to clinch that coveted deal. That's got to be the worst: having your hopes raised only to have them dashed. I'm getting sweaty palms and palpitations just remembering! :(

Just gonna put this out there: at one stage someone told me to write under a pseudonym because "Muhammad Khan sounds like it belongs on a Most Wanted list". :rolleyes: It wasn't the most encouraging thing to hear...

So I kept teaching maths and my students kept encouraging me to go live my dreams. They were young. They didn't realise dreams weren't meant for people like me. Then 2015 happened and news of 3 British school girls from Bethnal Green going out to join ISIS rocked the world. Teachers across the country were given mandatory Prevent training. Suddenly Muslim students didn't want to express their opinions on anything anymore for fear of being misinterpreted and ending up down at the local police station. Even my non-Muslim students became fearful in case they were labelled as racist for asking sensitive questions.

It was during this terrible period that I wanted to reach out to all of my students (without getting fired!). So I wrote I Am Thunder over the 2 week Easter break (high school teachers get little time to themselves, so I had to be quick). Serendipity played me a hand and news of my agent's sparkling new literary agency reached me. I submitted with all the misgivings and apprehensions of any unagented writer and more. She was the one and only agent I actually wanted. She had shown me kindness when no one else did. I could NOT blow this goddammit!

Within a week she asked for the rest of the ms. Then radio silence. An extended period of complete and utter nothingness. I prepared myself for the worst...

Then one day, quite out of the blue, I got an email from her asking to meet me at a swanky restaurant. Was she going to tell me she liked my stuff but it STILL wasn't good enough? Words cannot express how I felt when she gave me the good news in person. I was placed on the books and within a month publishers actually wanted to meet with me. :confused: Me - the fool who studied engineering and became a high school maths teacher?!

Meeting publishers was the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever faced. My jaw clamped; my teeth-chattered (and I may even have pissed myself a little :p) yet somehow I managed to answer their questions satisfactorily.

Let's just say that the moment I met the Pan Mac team I knew I'd found a home for I Am Thunder. That's not to say the other publishers weren't amazing too in their own right. My editor at Pan Mac shared the same love and empathy for Muzna Saleem - my main protagonist - as I did. That is mind-blowing. We all love our characters and to have them criticised hurts, but to have them embraced is sheer nirvana. :D

So a few months later my agent called me up at school and gave me the good news. A two-book deal was on the table and all it needed was my signature. I couldn't believe it. After all the toiling and struggling and crying (not to mention the self-doubt and depression) it was FINALLY happening.

Sorry if this isn't a very polished piece. I just wanted to answer Katie's question asap. I'm a full time student now, I've got to write Book 2, and I need to make myself available for Book 1 promotion. Don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining. I'm grateful to be given a shot at my childhood dream.

Time will tell if my book will resonate with the target audience, but I feel privileged to have my students behind me. And YOU guys. Thank you for all your support. Especially to Katie who made this post (because there's no way I would ever do it myself!).

I hope all of our dreams come true! :)

Last edited:
Not open for further replies.

News XX genotypes, go forth and be hilarious

7 Notable Writing Conferences in January 2019