MVP x Hachette Muslim Employee Network: Ramadan FAQs

زيادة المبيعات في رمضان : 12 نصيحة لترتقي بأعمالك التجارية وتطورها | Ramadan  gif, Ramadan mubarak, Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak!

We are so thankful that this blessed month is upon us and thrilled to have the Hachette Muslim Employee Network, chaired by Tanjiah Islam and Zakirah Alam, on the blog today!

MVP and the Hachette Muslim Employee Network have teamed up to bring you a list of Ramadan FAQs; questions that Muslims are asked A LOT during this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, most of us enjoy talking about what Islam means to us — it’s such a big part of who we are, after all. But I, for one, know that when I’ve been fasting for 15hrs+ and my mouth is as dry as the Sahara, I’d rather not waste my last morsel of energy answering yet another ‘not even water?’/’but aren’t you hungry?’/’what’s Ramadan again?’

We hope this list of FAQs might be a handy resource, and the chairs have kindly agreed to make it widely available — so, please do share and tag their Twitter or Instagram!


YOU CAN’T EAT ANYTHING? Nope, we can’t eat or drink anything until Iftar (breaking of the fast).


NOT EVEN WATER? Yep, not even water. It sounds difficult, but Muslims have done it every year for around 1,400 years!


IS IT DIFFICULT? Some days are more difficult than others, for sure, but then there are days where the hours fly by. It takes some getting used to, but again, we do this every year. Usually the first ten days are the most challenging — and your stomach is at its most vocal — but it does get easier.


DO YOU ENJOY IT? Yes! Most Muslims look forward to Ramadan every year, as it’s a month that prioritises God, gratitude, the act of giving and self-reflection, and spending time with family and loved ones.


CAN I EAT IN FRONT OF YOU? Yes! Please don’t feel awkward or guilty about eating around us. You’re not being offensive or insensitive – we are choosing to fast! Just behave as you normally would, but be understanding if someone wants to skip a lunch date. Also, it’s okay if you mention or offer food, we won’t burst into flames! Seriously, we’re pretty chill about it.


HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT EATING FOR 30 DAYS? We don’t fast for 30 whole days straight – we just limit the hours we do eat each day. Think of it as intermittent fasting. Except from sunrise until sunset, every day for a month.


I THOUGHT YOU WERE FASTING THIS ENTIRE MONTH, WHY ARE YOU EATING TODAY? Is this really how you want to find out that a colleague is on their period? Because that may be the answer! There are several reasons why someone might not be fasting, including personal health reasons, which they might not feel comfortable disclosing, so please do be considerate and sensitive about this topic.


IS EID THE EQUIVALENT OF CHRISTMAS? WHY DO YOU GET TWO? We gather with loved ones, dress up, exchange presents and eat far too much, so it is similar to Christmas! Muslims celebrate two Eids because each one marks a different occasion in the Islamic calendar; the first Eid (Eid ul-Fitr) happens after Ramadan to celebrate the closing of the blessed month, whereas the second Eid (Eid ul-Adha) marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah (Mecca).


HOW DO YOU WISH SOMEONE A HAPPY RAMADAN OR EID? If you wish to greet your Muslim colleagues, you can say ‘Ramadan Kareem’, which means have a blessed Ramadan. And at the end of the month, on Eid, you can wish them ‘Eid Mubarak’, which means have a blessed festival! Or you could just say ‘happy Ramadan/Eid’, I’m sure they’d be incredibly grateful either way.


If you would like to learn more about how you can support your colleagues/employees during the month of Ramadan, check out these handy tips shared on Twitter by the Hachette Muslim Employee Network — and don’t forget to give them a follow.

And last but not least, have a wonderful and blessed Ramadan, insha’Allah.

Mini Author Q&A ft Radiya Hafiza

Rumaysa: A Fairytale is a thing of beauty. Taking well-loved classic fairytales and giving them her own unique twist – while centring Muslimah main characters – Radiya Hafiza weaves together a magical adventure that will make your heart sing. The enchanting settings, the loveable heroines, the glamour and wit and wonder and MAGIC – starring not one but THREE BADASS MUSLIMAHS. A well-deserved winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month Prize (April, 2021), for sure.


Rumaysa cover illustrated by Areeba Siddique and Rhaida El Touny

What inspired you to sit down and write Rumaysa: A Fairytale?

The match for this particular story was struck one day when I was temping and rather bored at my desk. I started writing about a girl trapped at her desk – I mean tower and it started there. I’ve always loved fairytales and retellings but never saw anyone like me in them. I wondered what would Rapunzel do if she was Muslim and instead of having long hair, it was a long hijab that she threw down to escape? And so Rumaysa was born.


Of your three main characters (Rumaysa, Ayla and Sara), who would you say you are most like?

I feel like Rumaysa is the character I relate to a lot. She is really frustrated with the world (same) and sometimes doesn’t want to help out but do her own thing (same) but seems to get pulled into other people’s situations to help (same). I feel like she’s always quite honest about how she feels which is something I’m trying to do more of.  Some of us don’t want to put on a big smile and pretend everything is all right; some of us are just struggling through and that’s OK.


What’s one thing you want readers to take away from Rumaysa?

I want readers of Rumaysa to feel like anyone can be a hero too, no matter who you are or where you from. The stories are a celebration of strength and friendship, and I think there’s something really special about the girls saving themselves and each other in the story.


Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time…

I’d pick Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik. I read this book years ago and it changed so much of what I thought could be written about Muslims. A funny rom-com with a Muslim woman protagonist? She doesn’t take off her hijab and denounce her faith? She’s not the perfect Muslim or person? This book was a revelation to me and practically the first of its kind in 2015 (and to this day to be honest). It meant so much to me to see a Muslim character living truly to herself and going about life normally as we all do. It was empowering reading that book, so I’d love to have that experience all over again.


What is one book that you cannot wait to read in 2021?

There are so many great books coming out this year but I’m really looking forward to Mayhem Mission by Burhana Islam which looks hilarious. It’s really exciting seeing more Bengali characters in children’s fiction.


What’s your favourite Disney movie?

I actually really love Frozen. Olaf is my absolute favourite – he really carried the second film too. The first time I watched Frozen, I think I was in university, and it made me feel like a kid again. I love the storyline, the characters and the magic of it all.


Can you share anything about your next project?

I can’t say much about it yet as I’m currently working on it, but there will be magic and there will be food.


And a fun bonus question: what is your favourite writing snack?

Salted pistachio nuts are my favourite to snack on but then I end up taking so much time to crack the shells, somehow my pile of shells becomes bigger than my word count. It’s a problem.


Radiya Hafiza studied English Language and Literature at King’s College London and worked in publishing for a few years. She is behind the fantastic blog The Good Assistant. Radiya grew up reading classic Western fairy tales that never had any brown girls in them –Rumaysa is her debut novel, bringing such stories to children who need to see themselves represented.



Pre-order your copy of Rumaysa here at Bookshop.org (and help support local Indies!) or Waterstones.

You can find Radiya Hafiza on Twitter or Instagram.


Thank you for reading! Please do follow our blog to stay up to date with our posts and content.

The Colour of God by Ayesha S Chaudhry [MVP BOOK CLUB PICK]



We are thrilled to announce that our first Muslim Voices in Publishing book club pick is the extraordinary The Colour of God by Ayesha S Chaudhry

‘Engrossing.’ Monica Ali

‘Heartbreaking and really funny.’ Ross Gay

‘This book fell into my heart.’ Sabrina Mahfouz

‘The kind of authentic voice that is rarely heard.’ Saima Mir

This is the story of a child raised in Canada by parents who embraced a puritanical version of Islam to shield them from racism. The author explores the joys and sorrows of growing up in a fundamentalist Muslim household, wedding grand historical narratives of colonialism and migration to the small intimate heartbreaks of modern life. In revisiting the beliefs and ideals she was raised with, Chaudhry invites us to reimagine our ideas of self and family, state and citizenship, love and loss.

PUBLISHING 15th APRIL 2021

You can pre-order a copy using the links below and read along with us!

Waterstones | Bookshop.org

MVP’s TOP FIVE TIPS for aspiring publishing professionals

The publishing industry can seem terrifying, especially when you are looking in from the outside. Even more so when you are in the middle of filling out applications, taking interviews, receiving rejections and still trying to maintain the confidence to ‘sell yourself’ while battling impostor syndrome.

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We’ve all been there and know how challenging and disheartening the entire process can be. So, we at MVP, put our heads together and came up with our TOP FIVE TIPS for anyone trying to find their way into the world of publishing.


1. FOLLOW PUBLISHING PROFESSIONALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Following those currently doing the role you wish you were doing can be motivating, but also truly insightful. For example, if you are following marketing professionals, you might get a peek at some of the campaigns they have been working on and pick up a few tips and tricks.

(p.s. another benefit of following them is that you may even come across news of a vacancy on their team via their account)

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2. BUILD SOME FORM OF ‘MARKET AWARENESS’

That phrase can sound terrifying, but don’t panic! This does not mean you have to do hours of extensive research. Even just keeping an eye on rising trends and bestselling titles (in children’s fiction, or adult non-fiction, or wherever else your interests lie) and acquisitions announcements that are being shared. Or, making note of an exceptional PR and marketing campaign that caught your eye and what you think it did well/could’ve done better. All this can be extremely helpful for when you finally get that interview. Interviewers love to see that you are genuinely interested in the world of publishing!


3. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE, NETWORK AND ASK QUESTIONS

Networking can seem incredibly daunting, especially if you are an introvert, but it’s often not as bad as it seems. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for advice and tips from people in the field you are interested in — publishing professionals are often more than happy to answer questions, if approached politely and respectfully. (Note: look out for any info they’ve put out on how to contact them: some have email addresses in their bio, others may have their DMs open with a previous tweet/post saying they are open to questions – be considerate and polite.)

Some publishing professionals have even recently taken to a new app called Clubhouse to host ‘get into publishing’ talks and discussions — look out for these as they can be incredibly insightful, and a great opportunity to ask questions in an informal and welcoming forum. And there are several resources in several different forms e.g. the newly launched Main Characters’ podcast and Eleanor Rose’s Youtube channel that has a bunch of gems.

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4. KNOW THE PERSON/COMPANY INTERVIEWING YOU

This doesn’t necessarily mean stalk your interviewers (this isn’t Netflix’s YOU), but it could help to take a look at the publisher’s social media and familiarise yourself with their lists. Pick one or two books or prominent authors to research into a bit further, and find a way to incorporate them into an answer for a potential interview question. Look up the person interviewing you on LinkedIn, or see if you can find any articles on their work/find out a bit more about their specific role (e.g. for editorial, this might involve trying to find any news on recent acquisitions they may have been involved in).


5. MAKE USE OF EXISTING GROUPS AND ORGANISATIONS

Now, more than ever, there are incredible resources and organisations available online helping to encourage and ride non-publishing professionals who are trying to get into the industry. Make sure to join and follow and make the most of as MANY of these as you can! Here are a few to get you started:

Creative Access

Book Careers

Get into Book Publishing

The Publishing Post

Most publishers have separate social media accounts where they post current vacancies, so make sure to check those out. Follow the employee network accounts, like Hachette’s THRIVE or and Harper Collins’s ELEVATE — these networks are often working overtime to try to make the industry more accessible and transparent. Follow the #WorkinPublishing hashtag. Look into schemes, traineeships and work experience opportunities. (Note: things might be a little quiet on this end as people and companies continue to social distance and work from home for the foreseeable.)


BONUS TIP: STAY POSITIVE!

We know it can be disheartening to receive rejection after rejection, especially when you are still trying to get your foot in the door (trust us, we’ve been there and it is not fun). But please try to stay positive!

Whenever you feel defeated, remind yourself why you want to join the industry and what you hope to achieve. Many of us who are joining the industry, or have recently joined, are trying to drive change and amplify underrepresented voices and stories — remind yourself of this too, and remind yourself that publishing needs you just as much as you want it. Once you’ve reminded yourself of that, take a break, mope for a bit if you need to (chocolate always helps) and then get back to work. You’ve got this.

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Mini Author Q&A ft. Hafsa Zayyan

Co-winner of the first ever #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, Hafsa Zayyan’s highly anticipated debut novel We Are All Birds of Uganda is a tale of love, loss and what it means to find home, and should definitely be at the top of your 2021 TBR!

And to celebrate the publication of her debut, we had the chance to ask the wonderful Hafsa Zayyan some questions — you can find her incredibly insightful answers below!


What inspired you to start writing We Are All Birds of Uganda?

The New Writer’s Prize launched by MerkyBooks. The tagline for the competition was that they wanted to hear stories that weren’t being told.  The story of the South Asian expulsion from Uganda in the early 70s was a story I myself had only recently become familiar with, and was aware that many of my generation hadn’t heard much about – despite it being a major part of British history.


What’s one thing you would like readers to take away from We Are All Birds of Uganda?

Ultimately the book is about issues faced by immigrants, and the parallels between issues faced by immigrants today, compared with 50 years ago. Things have moved on, of course, but to what extent are we still affected by intergenerational trauma, and how has our understanding of racism changed? How much have we really changed? I’d encourage readers to critically analyse their own experiences and to talk as much as possible about the book’s themes.  


Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Loved it.


What is one book that you cannot wait to read in 2021?

So much good stuff coming out in 2021! White Ivy by Susie Yang sounds very interesting – it’s also a story about the immigrant experience (Chinese American).


What is one essential you need when writing? e.g. a snack, music/soothing sounds, a cosy setup…

A pen and paper. Sounds random or maybe even obvious, but I don’t use it for writing – I use it for doodling while I write! I’m a very visual person – I like to sketch out in a graphic form my character’s arcs, timelines, family trees, plot themes… the list goes on. 


How did you juggle a full-time job as a lawyer and writing your first novel?

With difficulty and sacrifice! As a lawyer, I work well to deadlines, and so having a deadline in place to submit the first draft of the manuscript helped – I dedicated every spare minute I had after work on weekdays, and full weekends to writing the novel. It meant a lot of cancelled social engagements and holidays that became writing holidays – but it was only for a short while, as I produced the first draft in the space of six months.


What was one of the most surprising or interesting things you learned in creating your books?

That I could write a book at all! It was such a delight seeing it go from an idea to a full manuscript and I will never forget the day I received the first bound, proof copies. I still have to pinch myself to make sure they are real! 

I learned a lot about the South Asian expulsion and the history of Uganda while writing – the historical narrative in particular required quite a lot of research.  The 20th century is one of the most fascinating periods of history – so much seems to have happened in the space of a century. One of the more surprising things I learned, for example, was about the world’s fluctuating approaches to immigration during this time – from the idea of total freedom of movement in the earlier part of the century, to the creation of the concept of a worldwide passport after WWI, to the restriction of immigration and the consequent concept of “statelessness” of the latter parts of the century. So many changes in the space of 100 years!


Can you share anything about your next project/anything you would like to work on in the future?

I’m very excited to announce I’m teaming up with a bunch of incredibly talented Nigerian writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Abi Daré, Inua Ellams and Yomi Adegoke among others to contribute to “Of this our country”, a non-fiction collection exploring Nigeria through its writers. The collection is available to pre-order now and is scheduled to publish in September this year.


Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. She won the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize in 2019. We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford.


UK cover of We Are All Birds of Uganda

Pre-order your copy of We Are All Birds of Uganda here at Bookshop.org (and help support local Indies!) or Waterstones.


Thank you for reading! Please do follow our blog to stay up to date with our posts and content.