How I Pitched Kia Abdullah’s Take It Back

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Aug 23 2019

The first time I read Take it Back by Kia Abdullah I was completely in love. I remember the butterflies in my stomach as if it were yesterday. I wanted to represent this book before I even finished reading. James was an intern at the time and read the book along with me. I think it’s fair to say he remembers this time as clearly as I do.

I knew when I took Take it Back on that it was going to be a challenge. It confronts some dark and difficult themes. Topics that are especially hard to sell in the US market. That being said, I knew I had to be the one to try. And I was overjoyed when Kia gave me the opportunity to be on her team.

I was right. Pitching the book was challenging and while we got a lot of great feedback, we were getting many of the reactions I expected. It was dark and people were hesitant to try. So it was time to go wider and it was in the UK that we met up with Manpreet Grewel of Harper UK: HQ Stories. Manpreet felt the same passion I did and still do for this book and in her adept hands, it became even better than I could help make it.

The pitch an agent makes for a book isn’t much different from the one an author makes in a query. In fact, it is often the exact same blurb the author used to win the agent. In this case, we did work as a team to perfect this pitch and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

The Pitch

I’m extremely excited to have on my list the perfect summer vacation read, Kia Abdullah’s TAKE IT BACK is a bold and startling Muslim #ownvoices literary novel in the vein of Jodi Picoult.

Zara Kaleel finds herself in the middle of an east London firestorm when the most controversial case of the year walks through her office door. Sixteen-year-old Jodie Wolfe is accusing four Muslim boys of raping her after a high school party, and she’s looking to Zara to get her justice.No one but Zara seems able to look past Jodie’s severe facial deformities and believe that she could be the victim of such a crime. The accused boys are handsome, popular, and convincing, while even Jodie’s closest friends and family won’t stand behind her.

Zara will stop at nothing to make things right for Jodie. But as the case goes to trial—and becomes more explosive by the day—she finds herself the target of vicious personal attacks. The Muslim community has turned its back on her, while the case seems to be falling apart, leaving even Zara to wonder who is really telling the truth. Pushed to her breaking point, Zara begins to question everything she thought to be true about the case, about Jodie, and about herself, all while facing the hard truth that Jodie just might lose.Kia Abdullah is the author of CHILD’S PLAY, and LIFE, LOVE & ASSIMILATION. A Muslim woman herself, she has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, and Channel 4 News, commenting on a variety of issues affecting the Muslim community. Kia currently edits the travel blog, which receives over 100,000 views per month.

I look forward to sending you this powerful manuscript.

Thank you for your consideration,


One response to “How I Pitched Kia Abdullah’s Take It Back”

  1. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Jessica, how much did you change Kia’s query for your pitch? I’m curious because you said you knew it would be a hard sell, so with your market knowledge wonder how much it was tweaked. It sounds awesome.