05: The Rules of Getting Published – Interview with Nisaar Nadiadwala (Career Series)
Writing is just one of the ways we utilise our creative intelligence.
It is a means of raising awareness, promoting ideologies, calling to the truth & preserving cultures – among other possibilities.
Getting published is a means of fulfilling that purpose and engaging in your worship with profound meaning.
Nisaar Nadiadwala is a speaker, trainer of public speaking and writing. He is settled in Dubai as a consultant and sales trainer. He has written three books and hosted hundreds of workshops in India, UAE, Tanzania and Malaysia on the subjects of Marriage, Career and Islamic PR. His books; ‘The MODEST MUSLIMAH AND HER HIJAB’, ‘I WANT TO MARRY, BUT’ and ‘PARENTS REITRE, PARENTING DOES NOT’ are available online.
1. How did your writing journey begin? Was it born out of a childhood dream or an event in life?
My writing journey began with reading. I was so fond of reading that I used to pick up papers from rags if the headlines interested me.
I was fascinated by good stories because they massaged my soul. And I wanted to write expressively.
My first write up was a small essay in a writing competition which did not get even a consolation prize. My second effort was writing my own poem in a college competition but the jury gave me the least marks.
My real writing began on Facebook when I started to draft one after another note on topics that bothered me. In two years I had written 500 notes and all of them were popular.
2. Why do you write? Is it about passion or hard work & practice to achieve your goals?
I write to change the thinking pattern of youth and give them an analytical direction. My writings are like counselling session where I show a direction to the solutions of problems. I don’t like to write nagging articles but I love to show a way out of crises.
Most of my writings express the needs & pains of others, not mine. I write for others. I express the need of the society. I give my readers what they need and not what they want.
Passion leads to hard work and acts like a motivation to build your stamina to continue. I had read that once Ibn Taymiyah, the noted scholar of Islam, got passionate about an issue and he sat down to write after the afternoon prayers and finished a book by sunset.
That book, ‘al Aqeedah al Wasitiya ‘ on the Attributes of God became and still remains a master piece in Islamic literature.
Practice is also essential and in writing, practice includes overcoming rejection and keep updating your brain with more ideas instead of vocabulary.
3. What keeps you motivated?
I never write to be read by millions.
I don’t write to be a best seller but to influence my readers even if they are few. If I were to go by the numbers of copies I sell or if my motivations depended upon how many fan letters I receive, then I would have stopped writing long ago.
Even if one person benefits then it is enough for me to remain motivated. One letter from a reader thanking me on how positively my writings helped her changed her life brings immense inspiration to me.
4. What habits have you developed to aid your writing process? Do you have daily/ weekly writing targets?
I keep on thinking even while travelling and write at least 500 words every day.
I look around for interesting stories of interest. And when I read the Quran with understanding, I try to identify the verses with the story I came across and deduce a lesson from it making my story interesting and lesson oriented. This is a regular habit of mine.
5. What does the entire writing process involve – from making a rough draft to getting your work published? And how long does it take?
It all depends upon my subject. I do two types of writing, regular notes for my Facebook readers and drafting of books.
7. So what does it really take to get published – the Dos & Don’ts?
Never dream of becoming a best seller. It will bring you unhappiness if your work doesn’t sell.
Write what people need and not what you want to give them. Once you complete a book. request a friend of yours who is fond of reading to go through it and suggest corrections. Then give it to an editor for grammatical corrections.
Get a good cover designed by a graphic designer.
Once your book is ready, write a review of your own book and give it to one of your friends to make a small video promo of your book. Now your book is ready to be shown to any publisher.
Attach a vibrant introduction or I would say a branded CV.
But publishers never risk their money on new writers no matter how important the subject is. So begin with an Ebook and publish online.
If your books get good review then try to convert your book into an audio book preferably in our own voice if you are a good speaker.
8. Any other secret tips to reveal?
Attend some sales training seminars and watch some sales training videos. Because, you are not merely a writer but a salesperson too.
These seminars and videos will teach you how to approach your customers (publishers) and how to present your work. Every writer should be a public speaker, if not then he should learn to.
Had Shakespeare been alive, even he would have found it very difficult to sell his book without sales promotions. That’s the reason why I have also started my own courses for sales training and presentation skills to help new professionals in all field to put across their talents and persuade people to buy them.
9. What are the high & low points?
No matter how good your book is or how helpful it will be for the readers it takes time to sell.
Many best sellers of today had three flops before they made it, so don’t make professional writing your main source of income. Keep a parallel profession to run your kitchen.
Never be too happy if someone appreciates your book. Be normal in adversity and richness.
10. What lessons have your publishing experience taught you?
Muslims don’t even read the book of Allah, how can I expect them to read my book? I am amazed to discover that we are backward even in reading.
Our early generation of Muslims were successful because they read.Ibn Qayyim Jauzi said that he had read around 20 thousand books, but today most Muslims don’t read more than a few glossy posters on Facebook.
That is why successful publishing for the Muslim community remains a distant dream. One of the reasons publications don’t run successfully in the Muslim community is because the Publishers don’t market well.
Last month I visited Sharjah book expo and saw around 900 publishers of Arabic books and few English ones but none had good sales team to show the visitors what they sold.
On the other hand there was a small stall of an American publisher with five well dressed sales men talking to each visitor and showing their products. The rest of the stalls had sales people either chatting on mobile or reading newspapers.
11. Looking back, what would you do differently?
I would still be a writer but this time I would master myself as a salesman because if a writer can’t sell his work what will he do?
12. Which are your favourite publications? And why?
IIPH has better format of printing but Darrussalam is the best because it offers ancient master pieces translated in English.
Jumuah monthly is also very good. The most professional is Da’wah Monthly online magazine published from the US.
From across the religious line I prefer to read Robert Kiyosoki and Alan Weiss.
13. How can a beginner shorten the learning curve without compromising on quality and benefit of writing to the readers?
Learning has no short curves. I keep learning each day.
Keep writing and master your passion and specialise in it. I focus more on issues related to youth.
14. What tools does an aspiring writer need the most?
An analytical mind to understand. And a good stock of adjectives and adverbs for expression. Along with it a good keyboard on your pc. Never draft notes on your mobiles or iPads it might ruin your eye sight.
15. Any lessons from our Islamic history for creative professionals.
Tafaseer of the Qur’an are the best case studies or syllabus for improving professionalism. They teach you about wonderful headlines & artistic way for presenting views of prominent scholars.
16. In your opinion, what types of books/publications do we need today as an Ummah? Are there any gaps to fill?
Some of the ancient books need to be published today as their content is evergreen. I am told that today there are hundreds of thousands of Arabic titles written centuries ago that require to be published.
Some of the current issues need to be updated in a corporate style of writing in the way management books are written. Readers were never fools nor are they still fools, so give them intellectual stuff.
We seriously need a writers Training academy. If you subtract our ancient authors like Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Jauzi then we have very few works of international standard.
17. Any last word?
Insha Allah, I do plan an online webinar for aspiring writers and I have a small course PEN THE PAGE for the freshers.
Have you ever had any of your works published? If yes, share your experience below please. If not, what is stopping you?