Is it easier to sell books about Muslims if they’re written by non-Muslims? This expert panel of independent publishers discuss the ins and outs of selling works by Muslim and other minority writers. How can communities support independent publishing and how can writers get their stories out there? Panellists include Jazzmine Breary, Digital and Publicity Manager at Jacaranda Books, Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, Zareen Jaffrey, Executive Director of Salaam Reads and Aimee Felone, co-founder of Knights Of, which publishes inclusive children’s books. Chaired by Sarah Shaffi, freelance journalist and co-founder of BAME in Publishing.
Aimée is co-founder of newly launched Knights Of – a commercial children’s publisher whose main focus is hiring diversely and commissioning writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds. She has worked at Eve White Agency, David Higham Associates and was Assistant Editor at Scholastic. She has always been a supportive and engaged voice within the industry working and has tirelessly worked to promote diversity.
As Director for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, Sandeep is responsible for leading the company artistically and strategically and working with the highly skilled and dedicated team to make a difference to Nottingham’s arts and literature community. She is a trustee of Spread the Word and a Literary Consultant at Slam Films where she works with Slam’s creative team on all literary acquisitions. In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious fellowship from the Clore Cultural Institute. She is judging this year’s Costa Prize First Novel Award, having previously judged the British Book Industry Awards and the Fiction Uncovered Prize. She tweets at @ReadWithSandy
Jazzmine is Digital & PR Manager at Jacaranda Books, responsible for all digital production, publicity campaigns and communications. She also oversees Sales, including direct and digital sales. Jazzmine previously worked at Pan Macmillan and with Facebook Marketing expert Geoff Hughes at Social Clay. She is a public speaker on issues of diversity, inclusivity and the challenges of promoting diverse books, and contributed to the 2015 Writing the Future report. She also served on the committee of Women in Publishing UK from 2012-2014. She tweets at @jreadsalot and @jacarandabooks
Zareen joined Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in February 2011, continuing her focus on commercial and literary young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as teen nonfiction. Zareen works with a number of New York Times bestselling, award-winning, and critically acclaimed authors including Jenny Han, Hena Khan, S.K. Ali, Lilliam Rivera, Lupita Nyong’o and Octavia Spencer. In 2016, she began acquiring for Salaam Reads, an imprint that focuses on publishing books about Muslim children and families. Zareen served for two years as a member of the Children’s Book Council (CBC) Diversity Committee, and was appointed co-chair of the Diversity within ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) Task Force from 2016 – 2017. Prior to Simon & Schuster, Zareen worked at HarperCollins Children’s Books and Hyperion books, Zareen is a graduate of New York University. She tweets at @ZareenJaffrey
Sarah is the former online editor and producer at The Bookseller, the UK publishing industry’s trade magazine. In 2016, she co-founded networking group BAME in Publishing, a regular meet up for people from ethnic minorities working in UK publishing. Sarah is now editor-at-large at Litte Tiger, reviews books for Stylist Magazine online and regularly chairs author events. She can be found tweeting @SarahShaffi