Eight months ago, my husband and I were on a trip to San Diego, California. We were bored, and we were talking about anything and everything. Our conversation turned to the revolution that had just occurred in Egypt. We were discussing Mubarak, the Interior Minister, the state of the economy after the revolution etc. My husband’s daughter Samar happened to be there during it all, as she is Egyptian and in medical school in Cairo. In the midst of the conversation, my husband turns to me and says, “You should write a book.” He knew that I had always wanted to write a novel, but as yet, had never found a topic I felt worthy to write about.
We started to brainstorm title’s for a book about what happened in Egypt. We came up with “My Life, My Love, My Revolution!” The title stuck and as soon as I returned from our trip to California, I started writing. It came easy as my husband and I had been watching all the events as they happened on the international news as well as CNN and FOX News Channel. It was on all the time during the protests and the ousting or Mubarak and the rest of the corrupt government. I spend days and days reading articles on the Internet and then started making phone calls to Egypt to talk to my sister-in-laws and other relatives and friends that had participated in the protests. I gathered stories and events from as many people as I could and then started incorporating them into my story.
My fingers began to fly across the keys and the book began to take shape. I spent the daytime hours tending to my children, husband etc., then I burned the midnight oil writing and revising and researching every step of the way. During those months, I was surviving on very little sleep. My husband was constantly rushing me to finish, so I could be the first one to write a novel about the revolution. Three months and many hours later, my novel was complete; or so I thought. After reading and rereading it to many times to count, I decided it was missing something. So my husband and I brainstormed and concluded that the story needed to include dialogue and storyline from the view of Mubarak and other government officials. So I spent another month adding and enhancing the storyline with what I speculated in my mind, as to what had transpired in Mubarak’s presidential Palace and behind closed doors of the parliament and interior ministry.
By the end of May the book was finished. I started looking for publishers that did not require an agent. I was very green and knew very little about this aspect of the writing industry. I just knew in my heart I had written a great novel and someone somewhere was going to appreciate it. I sent my manuscript off to only two small publishers. One answered me that the book wasn’t their cup of tea and the other one accepted it. Again, I really had no idea what I was doing, and if I hadn’t been in such a rush, I would have chosen more wisely, or waited for something better to come along. But, I didn’t.
Once I signed the contract, the publisher immediately told me they wanted to change the title. I was not happy with that as the title is what led me to the story to begin with, but I worked with them, and we finally settled on Road to Tahrir Square: My Life, My Love, My Revolution. My whole intent was to get the book published here and then sell it in Egypt. I even wanted to get it translated into Arabic. I had big dreams for my novel.
Unfortunately, two months after signing with my publisher, I began to realize that they weren’t really interested in selling my book, they were more interested in making money off of me. Every day 3 or 4 emails would come soliciting opportunities for marketing. Some examples: “Enter your book ______book fair only $49.99,” or “Hollywood is waiting for you. Let’s send them a movie proposal only $99.00,” or “Go on a book tour, $149.99”, etc . The books were way over priced and the shipping costs were astronomical. I spent many hours everyday, trying to promote my book on my own, until I finally realized that I was never going to see any financial gain from the sale of my book. The publisher I signed with was corrupt, deceiving and unorthodox. My book was stolen from right under my own nose, because I was naive and uneducated about the business of publishing a book. The great elation I felt when I knew it was going to be published turned to depression and embarrassment for letting someone dupe me as they did. The sad thing is, it took me spending a hell of a lot of money on various marketing schemes with them before I realized I was a fool. Now, I am told that places like Barnes and Nobel don’t even consider authors published with that company to be real authors. They won’t stock their books. They certainly won’t do book tours with any author associated with said publisher. I have even been told that I should just forget about the book and move on as no reputable publisher will take me seriously, if they see I have published with said devious publisher. So what am I to do? I just can’t let it go. I refuse to let my very first novel just disappear into the hands of thieves. What I will do next, I am not sure, but it just may be the beginning of Tina’s Revolution.