My Debut as an Encyclopaedia Writer – Nadia Ali

I generally write in two niches where I am comfortable, one is pets and the other is travel. I hardly ever write outside of my comfort zone, until I saw a call for writers to contribute to an encyclopaedia.

Before you start yawning, the name of the encyclopaedia is the “Cultural Encyclopaedia of Weird and Exotic Customs from around the World”, to be published by ABC-CLIO, a publisher that specializes in reference books.

I wrote a query letter to the editor, despite the fact that I believed only writers with a degree, masters or a doctorate were given the opportunity to contribute to reference books of this caliber.

A response arrived in my inbox from the editor – no less a professor and a doctor with a PhD. For sure, my writing was not going to be up to his standard, or so I thought, but his email was welcoming and even said “I am glad you are interested in writing for the encyclopaedia.” The email went on to give an overview of the book, compensation details, writers credit details and an Excel list of the 132 entries required along with deadlines and stipulated word counts.

I chose three entries, two were 500-words each and the last one was 1000-words all secured with a contract. I was comfortable writing the pieces with the help of the author guidelines and samples. The experience was like an extension of travel writing as the topics related to a weird or exotic custom of a country. For example, the 1000-word entry I chose to write about was on the Junkanoo Bahamas Festival.

So, now I am now a contributing writer to a one-volume encyclopaedia with a leading publisher of reference materials, and am on file for future writing projects.

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Nadia Ali ( is a freelance writer born in London, UK and now lives in the Caribbean. Her writing credits include Animal Wellness Magazine, Dog’s Monthly UK, Chicken Soup, Whole Life Magazine and the Travel Channel.


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