Mentor Safa Ahmed

@safaswritings

AGENT
Alex Rice, CAA

WRITES
YA Contemporary, Rom-Coms & Romance

ON SUBMISSION

BIO
Safa Ahmed is a British-Pakistani, undergraduate at King’s College London where she reads Psychology. When she’s not glued to her textbooks cramming for the next exam, she’s writing young adult contemporary novels featuring Brown joy, heartbreak, swoony love interests, fierce female characters, and everything in-between. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok as @safaswritings

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
My publishing journey began two years ago, when I finished writing my first novel. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, and younger, but this was the first time I finished and revised a whole story. I went on to query the book and faced many rejections, sprinkled with a few full requests, before I eventually shelved the book. It was a brilliant learning experience that taught me the inner-workings of querying, finding agents, and traditional publishing.

After that mess of a first book, that I will always cherish for what it taught me, I went on to write my second book. A YA contemporary that held a different sort of magic that comes in the form of first loves and being on the brink of adulthood. I was lucky enough to be picked up for a mentorship program, Write Team Mentorship. Through the four-month mentorship, I was taught how to revise a book effectively, how to pitch for Twitter contests, and most importantly, I learned how vital it is to build your own space in the online writing community.

I began querying in the final month of the mentorship, and the process of querying this time around was much faster than what I faced in the beginning. I prepared extensively for the agent calls, and was lucky enough to find my amazing agent, Alex Rice. Now, I’m on submission for the book of my heart, and hoping to conquer this part of publishing as well.

EXPERIENCE
As a third-year university student, I know how important it is to have a flexible, and realistic, work schedule. I have strong time-management skills. I will be able to prioritise my mentee effectively, ensuring that their manuscript gets the attention it deserves.

I am also a former literature student. I am aware of how to critique a piece of writing and to pull out it’s strengths and weaknesses. Through many years of volunteer work, I’ve encountered a diverse set of people throughout, and I know how to interact accordingly. Similarly, being a former mentee for a writing program has given me an understanding on what makes an effective mentorship from a mentee’s perspective. I understand what is needed and what the requirements are of me as an author mentor. This will ensure that my mentee gets the best out of their experience in AMM.

Finally, I have been a critique-partner for my writing friends who are also agented, some who have book-deals, and others who are on submission!

OVERVIEW
I want to be a mentor because I think it’s important to give back to the writing community. I was lucky enough to be in a mentorship myself, and I learned so many things about traditional publishing and writing that I hope to pass on to other aspiring writers. I think AMM is a wonderful mentorship program that focuses on developing and fostering a relationship between mentees and mentors. It’s these relationships within the writing community that makes knowledge more accessible.

I hope to get out a lifelong friend out of AMM in the form of a mentee. I truly believe broadening your inner-writing community makes you a stronger writer. You get a unique support system of people who understand you in a way non-writing people may not. To my future mentee: I can’t wait for what this journey will bring us, and I hope you know that as your mentor, you will always have me in your corner!

When I first started revising my manuscript, I was completely lost. I didn’t know where to start or how to turn this collection of pages into the polished story I had in mind. I was lucky enough to get into a mentorship program, with a wonderful mentor, where I was taught the tools needed to tackle my writing. Aside from that, I also gained a life-long friend, and CP. So, even though I would be your mentor, I always want this relationship to go beyond AMM. I am here to champion your story, to help you refine it to it’s most fabulous form, and to be there every step of the way in your publishing journey.

In a nutshell, I’m looking for a mentee that is devoted to their story, who is willing to make the changes that can seem scary in the beginning, but ultimately help in the end. Someone is accepting that major rewrites may be needed, and is motivated!

I’m personally drawn to stories that have a strong voice–I want to resonate with your characters! I would love to support a fellow author of colour, but regardless of identity, I am here for the stories that are filled with achingly real and messy emotions. I don’t need romance, but I am a big fan of stories that explore themes such as platonic love, found-family, complex family dynamics, messy relationships, and everything in-between. I love stories that explore difficult themes in nuanced ways, and most of all, stories that celebrate both the joys and the heartbreak of life.

 

MENTORING GENRES
Young Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism

I am open to all sub-genres of romance, contemporary and historical stories. I love contemporary romances that explore various themes surrounding falling in and out of love, but I’m also a huge fan of contemporary stories that focuses on tropes such as complex family dynamics, broken friendships, and identity crises.

I’m also a fan of blending genres, so if you have a contemporary story with a speculative twist, I am here for it! (For example: stories that feature something like time travel or a paranormal romance. As long as it’s clearly more of a contemporary than a fantasy book!)

In terms of tropes, I am here for all the familiar YA tropes. I’m excited to see the way you twist the trope to suit your story! Some of my all-time favourites are: rivals to lovers, friends to lovers, found-family, revenge stories, unreliable narrators, and slow burn (the slower, the better).

The only tropes I’m not open for are: bully romances, instant-love, fake dating and academic rivals (the last two because I am currently writing WIPs that feature those and wouldn’t want to overlap!)

 

I WILL PROVIDE:

  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

WORKING STYLE
I would prefer to start with an edit letter, where I would outline the areas I think need the biggest changes. After you’ve sat with them for a little bit, thought them over, I’d like to set up a Skype, Teams, Google Meet, Zoom call with you to discuss the changes. This is truly a collaborative mentorship, so if you feel strongly that a certain edit isn’t write for your manuscript, I am flexible about the changes! I do tend to be blunt about what edits I think are needed, but I’m also big on screaming about how much I adore your story. I will tell you on call, via text, and on every platform, how much your story resonated with me and all the bits I loved.

After the initial edit letter and the call, I’d let you go ahead and revise it according to the plan we would have set up together. I’m always available through whatever medium suits you, if you want to send me snippets of a chapter you’re working on, or if you want me to read a whole chapter to make sure you’re on the right track. I’ll always be clear to you about my how long it will take me to read, and as a university student myself, I know how important it is to have a flexible working schedule.

Once you’ve done your first round of edits, I’d love to go through some finer, in-line edits, which will focus more on specific scene-level changes (this will also involve more yelling in the margins about the particular moments I fell in love with). Once we both feel the manuscript is polished, I’d love to help my mentee develop a list of potential agents to query, and to create a strong query package.

IDEAL MENTEE
My ideal mentee is communicative, open to critiques, isn’t afraid of hard work, and is deeply in love with the heart of their book. I love to have brainstorming sessions, and calls on whatever platform. Communicating openly and being collaborative is important to me, and I think those traits will help develop a strong, trusting relationship between the two of us!

SEND ME:

  • Stories featuring brown characters, and brown voices. I’d also love romances that feature a main couple that is brown.
  • Desi/Muslim stories with complicated family dynamics, and relationships.
  • Any stories that have BIPOC joy and heartbreak at the centre.
  • A romantic comedy that has me grinning and laughing throughout.
  • Pure romance stories in every form-platonic love, enemies to lovers, friendship to lovers.
  • Historical YAs in the vein of STALKING JACK THE RIPPER or BIPOC regency romances.
  • Speculative romances (I’d love to see a romance story featuring ghosts! That’s my current obsession or stories with a twist like YOU’VE REACHED SAM).
  • Found-families in every shape and form.
  • Dual-POV or non-linear timelines
  • Sunshine/Grump trope or polar opposite romances.
  • Stories set outside of the US and the UK.
  • Stories that have strong stakes-I want to be hooked by your premise and plot, just as much as I want to adore and love your characters.
  • If your book can be compared to any Taylor Swift song: send it to me. I am here for all the angst. Seriously, angst is a favourite of mine.

DO NOT SEND ME:

  • Please do not send me any story featuring Islamophobia. I am here for stories written by Muslim writers that deals with Islamophobia, but I’m not here for stories that are inherently prejudiced towards Muslims and Islam. On that note, stories featuring discrimination against any religion will not work for me.
  • Bully romances, or insta-love.
  • I’m also not the right fit for stories with a fully white cast or stories in which marginalized characters are sidelined or killed to further the arcs of white characters.
  • Books featuring: theatre, musical theatre, or fake-dating a celebrity.

FAVES

Here are some my faves that are relevant to my MSWL:

Movies/TV Shows: 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Diaries, Flipped, Now You See Me, Grown-ish, Modern Family, Hotel Del Luna, Reign and Sen Cal Kapimi. I am also a sucker for reality TV, so if your book features some intense drama, I will love it.

Books: XOXO, The Poppy War, Kingdom of the Wicked (I love Wrath, and this type of enemies to lovers will be deeply loved), All Your Perfects, The Ex Hex, Not Here to be Liked, You Truly Assumed, Beach Read (I’d love a YA story in the vein of Emily Henry), Tokyo Ever After, Hana Khan Carries On, To All Boy’s I’ve Loved Before, The Winternight Trilogy, Kartography, Harley in the Sky, The Girl and the Ghost, The Diviners, and A List of Cages.

I’m a really big foodie, so if your book has some mouthwatering, vivid food descriptions, I would love to see it!