Saqi Books launches marketing campaign to reach non-traditional readers

Saqi Books launches marketing campaign to reach non-traditional readers

Publisher Saqi Books is working with the Reading Agency to provide samples of its new title, Rise, to less confident and reluctant readers,

Rise: Extraordinary Women of Colour Who Changed the World by artist and illustrator Maliha Abidi is published by Saqi today (26th October) and celebrates the uplifting and inspirational stories of 100 women including household names, such as Beyoncé and Frida Kahlo, plus activists working behind the scenes to make the world a better place, such as chemist Asima Chatterjee, who developed anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. The book will be supported by an "extensive" marketing and publicity plan aimed at reaching non-traditional readers, with the help of a grant from Arts Council England. 

The campaign responds to the report Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing (2020), which called for publishers to both ringfence marketing budgets for writers of colour, and reach out to new audiences in inclusive ways. It will see the publisher work with the Reading Agency to provide samples of the book to less confident readers, as well as those with lower literacy levels, including women in prisons or people learning English as an additional language. The partnership also includes a competition to win signed copies of the book and exclusive prints.

Saqi will also partner with live literature organisation Speaking Volumes, which is creating a video featuring members of the public and celebrities, such as Andi Oliver, speaking about a woman from the book who inspires them. The video will be shared on social media and aired at events, including at the Feminist Library, Deptford. 

Other work includes the creation of two exclusive artworks between charity Equality Now and Abidi, as well as a series of author events scheduled to take place outside London, including Petworth Literary Festival in West Sussex, Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival in Yorkshire and Brighton's Feminist Bookshop.

An extensive social media campaign is also planned, including on BookTok. Saqi has also produced various point-of-sale material, including portrait prints, postcards and bookmarks, which it is distributing to various independent bookshops around the country.

Publisher Lynn Gaspard said: "I first came across Maliha’s work after the publication of her gorgeous debut, Pakistan for Women. It’s been a joy to work with Maliha on Rise – her illustrations are gorgeous, and so joyful and hopeful. In my 16 years at Saqi, I don’t think I’ve ever had as many goosebumps or felt as proud while working on a book. As an Arab woman living in London, and as Middle East-specialist publisher, I know how important representation is, how important it is for minorities to be able to express our own voices, to see ourselves reflected in the world around us including in the art being created and disseminated. Rise counters the torrent of negative representations of people from within ‘minority’ communities, by sharing stories of courage, resilience and success. I am very grateful to the partner organisations who are helping us to reach out to new readers."

The Reading Agency said it was "very proud" to be working with Saqi Books, adding: "The aim of the book – to offer hope and inspiration – aligns with the work we do here at The Reading Agency and through our Reading Ahead programme. We hope the book will encourage people taking part in the campaign, who include people in prison and college students, to continue exploring the joys of reading."

Abidi said: "It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Saqi to ensure that as many people as possible can access Rise. All the women in the book have been a huge inspiration to me, both personally and professionally, and I hope that they will inspire everyone who reads it. I have chosen to work with partners whose values align completely with my own, and I believe I have found that with the Reading Agency, Equality Now and the other organisations and individuals that are working to get Rise into the world."