Home 5 Interviews 5 Hisham Al Bustani Recalls the Publishing of his First Book

Hisham Al Bustani Recalls the Publishing of his First Book

by | Aug 17, 2017 | Interviews

Born in Amman in 1975, Hisham Al Bustani is an author and short story writer. His works include ‘Of Love and Death’ (Beirut: Dar Al Farabi, 2008), ‘The Monotonous Chaos of Existence’ (Beirut: Dar Al Farabi, 2010) and ‘The Perception of Meaning’ (Beirut: Dar Al Adab, 2012), among other collections.

What is your first published book?
My first book is titled ‘Of Love and Death’ and was published by Dar Al Farabi in 2008. A collection of stories, it has a foreword written by Sonallah Ibrahim. I felt the pressure of publishing for a long time before it came out, hesitating through a fear that in artistic terms it would not offer anything new. I published my first book twelve years after my first short story, which won the ‘Best Short Story Award 1996’ – a title conferred by Jordan’s universities and intermediate colleges.

What are the key challenges that faced you when you published your first book?
I write short stories and narrative fiction, which incorporates poetry. I am not interested in writing novels and it was difficult for me to find a good publisher willing to take the risk of bringing out a collection of short stories. This was the main challenge for me and a very stressful one!

Did you cover the costs of publishing your first book?
I refute the notion that the writer should pay the publisher to cover the costs of publishing their book. So what should the short story writer who would like to publish their first collection in the grim and bitter environment of the current publishing industry in the Arab world do? In my case, I struck the following bargain with the publisher: I buy a limited number of copies at wholesale price (distributor cost) but I own the distribution rights in Jordan. Whenever I distribute all the copies I have purchased, I order another limited number of copies… and so on. Following this method I have become a successful distributor of my own book.

Are you pleased with the production, publishing and distribution of your book?
Yes, I am. The book’s production is excellent. The publisher has successfully promoted it and distributed it in the Arab world – I have found copies in libraries in Beirut and Cairo. It is my best seller (I think), perhaps because the title sparks people’s interest or perhaps because of its diminutive size. To be honest, I am not quite sure why people are interested in this book more than the books that were published after it.

Do you have your own copy of your first book?
I have a copy of every book I write – these copies I will never give up.

Can readers buy a copy of your first book, and how?
Yes, they can. The book is available in libraries, bookstores and exhibitions in Amman. The publisher also has it – he was optimistic about the book and printed 2,000 copies. He still has a fair number of these available.

Do you convert your books into e-books?
The publisher does, but I am not sure if the platform that provides the e-books is still operational.

Have your books been converted into e-books or other digital forms without your permission as the author?
Yes, some of my books have been converted into pirated PDF files.

What did you learn from the experience of publishing your first book?
Deliberation and extreme patience should be considered before publishing any literary work. As I said, I waited for 12 years before publishing my first book, during which time I rewrote it many times. In fact, I rewrote it again last year for a second edition, which will be issued shortly.

What do you hope to happen to the Arabic publishing sector?
I hope that it becomes an Arabic publishing sector and not a commercial printing shop, which it seems to be now.

Recent News

Alice Oseman’s Auction Supports Gaza Aid Efforts

Alice Oseman’s Auction Supports Gaza Aid Efforts

Alice Oseman, bestselling author of the YA Heartstopper books, has raised nearly £20,000 for children in Gaza in a special auction organised by Save the Children.  Not Alone: The Alice Osman Fundraiser for Children in Gaza included Alice Oseman bookplates and Heartstopper enamel pins as well as ‘signed and doodled’ Alice Oseman books.  Save the […]

‘Kairos’ Claims Victory at International Booker Prize 2024

‘Kairos’ Claims Victory at International Booker Prize 2024

The 2024 International Booker Prize has been claimed by “Kairos,” a poignant German novel delving into a tumultuous love affair set in 1980s Germany. Authored by Jenny Erpenbeck and masterfully translated by Michael Hofmann, this literary gem captivates readers with its exploration of love against the backdrop of political turmoil.   Eleanor Watchel, chair of […]

Lord Byron’s Lost Memoirs Were “Evil”

Lord Byron’s Lost Memoirs Were “Evil”

  A letter describing the contents of Lord Byron’s lost memoirs revealing how he “set his mind to evil” has been discovered in a university library. It was written by Elizabeth Palgrave, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1823 after a visit to a publishing house. The “bad boy” poet gave his memoirs to a friend […]

Related Posts

Big Bad Wolf Books is Roaring Again

Big Bad Wolf Books is Roaring Again

Meeting the Big Bad Wolf himself. Malaysia’s Andrew Yap The Malaysian bookseller snappily called Big Bad Wolf Books is roaring again.  It has plans to take its revolutionary approach of cheap books for all into new parts of Africa – specifically Uganda in...

Amelia Smith Exclusive interview “Behind the Sun”

Amelia Smith Exclusive interview “Behind the Sun”

Amelia Smith Interview Amelia Smith is a journalist and a writer with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa region. We caught up with her in an exclusive interview to discuss her novel ‘Behind The Sun’ and her work in general. What interests and inspires you? I...

Zoulfa Katouh: Q and A

Zoulfa Katouh: Q and A

What made you write As Long As The Lemon Trees Grow ? Can you talk us through the process, from how you were inspired, why and how you choose the title and how long did it take you to write it. When I moved to Switzerland, I had a lot of people ask me about Syria. I...

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this

Pin It on Pinterest