Shaherazad Shelves Publishings: Muslim Representation in Literature

Shaherazad Shelves Publishings are one of the first trailblazers to give a platform to Muslims in literature. In the realm of indie publishing, Samiha and Atifa stand as sisters with a mission that’s rewriting the narrative. Shaherazad Shelves, their brainchild, is no ordinary publishing house.

Shaherazad Shelves Publishings: A Publishing House Reimagined

The Shaherazad Shelves takes on the role of a traditional publishing house, offering editing, cover design, marketing, and distribution. They do this all without charging the author. However, it operates on a significantly smaller scale and remains independent of the Big Five conglomerates. Their publishing spectrum is diverse, spanning nonfiction to genre fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, and historical fiction. Shaherazad Shelves’ primary target audience comprises young adults and adults, with a dash of books for younger readers.

Their focus on young adult and adult fiction stems from the acute lack of positive Muslim representation in these genres. They challenge the stereotypical use of Islam as a plot device. Shaherazad Shelves’ goal is to showcase Muslims as they are and aspire to be. Atifa and Samiha uphold three core values: Awareness, coexistence, and education. They use books as tools to raise awareness about global issues, foster coexistence among diverse cultures, and educate readers about the multifaceted aspects of Islam.

Shaherazad Shelves Publishings

Shaherazad Shelves Publishings: How it Started

Their publishing house, Shaherazad Shelves Publishings, bares a name rooted in the rich storytelling tradition. The Shaherazad sisters aim to tell 1,001 stories, metaphorically preserving their Muslim identity in a cutthroat world. The venture extends to “Sorra Books,” an imprint paying homage to their Bangladeshi heritage. “Sorra,” meaning “little bird” in the Sylheti dialect of Bangla, adds a touch of their cultural identity.

Born and raised in New York, these sisters share a deep bond. While Samiha is known for her expressiveness and love for Bengali food, Atifa, in contrast, has a more reserved demeanor and an affinity for diverse cuisines, particularly sushi. Their academic pursuits also vary, with Samiha specializing in English and Atifa holding a minor in Political Science.

The Journey to Shaherazad Shelves Publishings

Their path to founding Shaherazad Shelves was paved with rejection in the traditional publishing world. Disheartened by the lack of positive Muslim representation, Samiha embarked on a transformative journey. In 2022, Shaherazad Shelves came into existence with Atifa’s invaluable assistance, making it the first-ever Muslim-run, women-owned press in the United States. The journey ceased being a personal one; it became a platform for the Muslim community to find its place in the literary world while staying true to its faith.

Recognizing that lofty goals need expertise, Samiha enrolled in UCLA Extension’s Editing & Publishing course to ensure the stories they publish receive the justice they deserve. Currently, Atifa focuses on financial matters while Samiha, assisted by Heather, their editorial assistant, works on acquiring and editing manuscripts.

The Shaherazad Process

Shush Books, their imprint for Muslim-focused narratives, opens for submissions annually from February 14th to June 14th. Sorra Books, another imprint, is dedicated to Muslim-friendly narratives, accepts submissions from October 14th to January 14th. Their inclusive approach welcomes both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Moreover, their ideal stories encompass a wide spectrum, including dystopian fiction, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and memoirs that touch on vital topics. Samiha is actively seeking diverse stories, especially in fantasy settings, with generic monotheistic systems or magic-less fantasy. She dreams of creating a space for Muslim versions of Jane Austen’s books and retellings of common fairytales with Muslim characters.

Their process is marked by collaboration and transparency. Authors’ opinions are held in high regard when it comes to editing and cover design. Contracts are tailored to meet the specific needs of authors, from royalties to copyright protection. Educators, librarians, booksellers, and parents are encouraged to reach out. Shaherazad Shelves is eager to provide physical copies to libraries, bookshops, and classrooms.

Shaherazad Shelves Publishings’ Goals

Their primary goal is to bolster the faith of Muslim youth through literature. They also aim to expand their team, ultimately ensuring that their authors enjoy a sustainable income while adhering to their moral compass. In a rapidly changing world, Samiha and Atifa remain steadfast, unwavering in their commitment to their faith and the mission of Shaherazad Shelves. Their success, they believe, is a gift from Allah, and their resolve to make a lasting impact in the world of literature knows no bounds.

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