I contacted many publishing houses here in Saudi Arabia and most of them refused to even take a look at the story attributing that to the fact that I'm a first time author and most aren't interested in publishing for new writers. The remaining few didn't show interest in the story simply because it's written in English and they obviously don't think there's a market for such novels or that it is the company's policy.
When I finally managed to meet someone who's willing to take the time to read a few pages, he stated his admiration of my work but also told me that there's nothing we can do about it since the Ministry of Culture and Information will surely reject it for being too "sexual." I said that I'm willing to edit parts of the story if that's what it takes but he told me the ministry rarely accept drafts similar to this. He advised me to try to contact publishing houses from Egypt or Lebanon.
I contacted Dar Al-Saqi, the famous Lebanese publishing house, and they have responded rather enthusiastically . I sent them the original story and a couple of months later they politely apologized for not being able to publish it since "their list of to be published English titles are practically full for another year at least." I don't know if that was a real excuse or simply a way of letting me down easy but I didn't take it to heart.
I still hope that one day I get to publish Layla in addition to a book containing a collection of my poems. It's not arrogance or anything like it but I truly believe that my writings are better than countless titles, whether Arabic or English, sitting on bookshelves right this moment.
Anyhow, if you know of any publishing houses whether here in Saudi Arabia or abroad then please contact me on my email: Bassem.email@example.com and let me know. Thank you.
This is old news that I haven't posted here before: I've been included in an article for Vancouver Sun newspaper regarding using Facebook and the Internet as the new way of publishing stories and reaching readers. Read the story.