Books are better teachers than any school curriculum. They let us peek into lives– real and unreal—go to places we’ve never been, face situations we’ve never encountered and come out stronger and wiser. 5 years ago, Daastan took its first step towards realizing its goal of educating the masses through books. We wanted to make a book lover out of every individual whose life we touched and see a book in every hand. Today, Daastan has progressed with leaps and bounds and continues to expand its mission.
One such instance of furthering our vision was when we partnered with Books and Beyond in what turned out to be a highly successful series of book club events.
Daastan Chasing their Vision by Partnering with Books and Beyond
To develop interest and increase membership of Books and Beyond- a literary club from Hyderabad- Daastan decided to sponsor their second of many book club meets held at Khanabadosh Writers’ Café in Hyderabad. The book club discussed Manto, Dostoevsky, Existentialism and Socialism.
Daastan provided the attendees with literary souvenirs such as bookmarks and tote bags with phrases like “Books not bombs” and “Knowledge is power!”. The purpose of the freebies was to impart positive vibes to the members and encourage them to attend even more book clubs, thereby increasing their love for literature and reading. The gifts from Daastan were well-received and all in all, the book club was a smashing success.
About Books and Beyond
Taking birth in the soulful city of Hyderabad, Books and Beyond is a literary club that started in 2016. Its goal is to bring both amateur and seasoned readers together in a single space and break through reading barriers in Hyderabad. They are also expanding into bigger cities like Karachi. Run by a hardworking team of bibliophiles, Books and Beyond works to promote reading culture among students, revive the lost interest in reading, hold in-depth discussions between like-minded people and encourage writers to share their writings.
Under the leadership of Huda Bhurgri and Khushbakht Memon, this literary club has organized various successful events. The events include book club meetups, open mic sessions and digital discussion groups.
The Founder of Books and Beyond, Huda Bhurgri
Our very own #Oneof50, Ms. Huda Bhurgri is a power woman! She is the founder of Books and Beyond and a social enterprise Soormi, that works towards women empowerment. Her love for literature and a dream of equality drives her to hustle harder every day and amaze us with her achievements.
Ms. Huda, along with her friend, Ms. Khushbakht Memon, founded Books and Beyond in 2016 when both of them felt a void in Hyderabad’s literary space. They believed that Hyderabad was home to a number of book lovers but the diminishing reader body of Hyderabad left little room for them to openly talk about books with like-minded people. With a solution in mind, these ambitious ladies started holding book club meets in a safe and healthy environment and made a special space for Hyderabad’s literati. And thus, Books and Beyond was formed. Daastan is proud to have been a partner of such an innovative literary initiative. We love putting in our share in literary and social enterprises and increase book love all across Pakistan!
If you’re an enterprise looking to partner with us, drop us an email email@example.com and Sign Up with us!
In the summer of 2015, Ommer Amer, a then-budding writer from Wah was searching for a publisher for his first novel, The Forbidden Story. However, at that time, quality Pakistani publishers were almost non-existent. Disappointed by the lack of a proper platform to launch and market his book, Ommer decided to do something about the matter. With the help of 2 friends, Hafsa Idrees and Tahniat Saba, Ommer Amer founded Daastan—a self-publishing platform that would give access to all Pakistani writers to get their written word out into the world. And thus, we began our “daastan”.
Team Daastan has a dream—to help writers monetize their work, earn from their talent and grow Pakistan’s literary space. At a time where a large number of people, especially the youth, is tech oriented, the best way to thrive was through the internet. Ommer and his team turned to Plan9 and the startup was incubated in one of its 2015 batches. After a six-month incubation period, it took off and soared to greater heights. We went through a roller coaster of experiences—some good, some bad and some absolutely mind-blowing! (Like when we bagged the 2nd prize on an international platform)
Operating under Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Plan9 is Pakistan’s first tech startup incubator that started in September 2012. A business incubator works as a catalyst between dedicated and enthusiastic groups with unique ideas and help them to start their businesses. It provides funds from interested investors and services including office space and training.
Plan9 is one of its kind; providing its selected candidates (picked twice every year from a pool of 15 groups) with training from its experienced board, working space with computers, internet access, and even electricity so that Pakistan’s power shortage does not become a hurdle for budding startups. It has launched 130+ tech startups in Pakistan, with a vision of each business making a mark on international levels. The startups by Plan9 are gross valued at $70 million and they have raised a gross investment of $2.5 million
PITB’s tech incubator is led by founder, Dr. Umar Saif who
is also Chairman, PITB alongside Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship
and Enterprise Development, PITB.
Daastan upon its Graduation from Plan9
Since it’s incubation, Daastan has surpassed the expectations of many. Shortly after its graduation from Plan9, Daastan arranged a massive caused based letter writing campaign. Students from different schools and UET Taxila wrote letters to the Army. At the Brand Launch of Daastan in Arfa Technology ParkMughees Anwar and Rutaba Yaqub spoke as guest speakers. By the end of 2015, we had organized a number of important literary events such as the Daastan Literary Fest.
2016 was a roller coaster year for Daastan! Filled with endless work despite night and day, we organized out first ever big scale competition, The Stories Untold Season 1. Luckily, we received an overwhelming response. Soon, Daastan launched Qissa—Pakistan’s first self-publishing digital platform, enabling writers from all over the world to publish their books with a few clicks! Qissa garnered appreciation from writers and businesses alike and revolutionized self-publishing as we know it. But that’s not all! Team Daastan kept breaking through barriers by launching its very own Literary Fellowship which would bring together literary activists from all over Pakistan.
Today, Daastan is the biggest self-publishing house in Pakistan. We are working towards the betterment of the country by increasing readership and bringing the works of previously unpublished authors to light. We have helped writers monetize their work, turned passions into careers. Our team has held worldwide competitions, launched businesses, made a space in the media and much more. From one person’s dream, we have transformed into an army of readers and writerswith an unshakable will to rejuvenate literature in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s growing literary space has created opportunities for writers to earn through Publishing. Daastan helps authors market their books and reach their readers. Think about the last book you bought. Were you sliding past the ‘South-asian books‘ section and randomly picked a book because it looked interesting? Or did you surf the internet for top 10 south-asian books, consulted your friends and short-listed books to finally cross your fingers and buy the best pick? We’d do the latter. And so did our Writer, Ms Sijdah Hussain make sure her book lands in your top picks!
‘Sijdah Hussain’ Chose Daastan To Market her First Book – ‘Red Sugar No More’
Daastan has been publishing hundreds of Books each year. But one thing most of you don’t know is that you may not necessarily publish with us to market your book through us. The literary enthusiasts that we are, we will always be ready to show off a good book. This recent book that we have endorsed is the best example of an unconventional Pakistani English book that you will read in 2020. Red Sugar No More takes you to a journey of healing and self-exploration through the tiny life lessons learnt by the author in the process of compiling this book. Let us learn more about the book, through the writer herself.
Sijdah Hussain and Her Sugar series!
A mental Health activist, Sijdah Hussain is a debut, modern-day, Messy writer who works as a Content Marketer in Lahore, Pakistan. While her writing is mostly based on her experiences and other real-life inspirations, it does have a flavour of hyperbole at some points. She first got the idea to turn her poems cum songs into a chapbook when she started to see a pattern in them. They were all intertwined intricately to form something more than just one song or two. This is a story of someone going through a rush of emotions from blaming others to herself, every now and then.
When did you discover your talent for writing?
I don’t quite remember how it happened, in all honesty, I just remember watching cartoons and reading books and wondering if I could do that too, some day – one day. I wanted to write something fun like Mary Kate and Ashley or the famous five, ha-ha. I actually wrote a lot of excerpts and freelanced as a ghostwriter before writing my own book & that too with rhymes and whatnot. You know I failed a poetry course in my Bachelor’s degree and had to repeat it. I promised that teacher I’d write a poem one day … a good one. I graduated from the Government College University with BA(hons) in English Literature and Language in 2017. I guess I’m just keeping that promise.
How was your experience writing your first book? How long did it take you to finish writing it?
I sort of started writing as a form of catharsis, I used to do social work and that too a lot, before switching to writing permanently because when I started working I didn’t really have that much time to just go to an orphanage whenever I wanted. The book took quite a lot of time because it wasn’t written in a day or 2 it was written in I guess 2 years and it has a lot of experiences & stories within each stanza; each lyric has a different story in it so I am just a bit scared, what if people don’t really understand where I’m coming from?
You work full time, how did you manage writing and working together?
Writing has never been difficult for me because I write out my feelings most of the time. As a content marketer when I am writing something for the sake of marketing – I focus on the feeling my words would give to a reader. Therefore, whenever I had the time and felt like I needed a break I would scribble down a few lines. Once I used to start, the words just used to pour out of me on their own. It used to feel like either someone else is writing through me or I’m in an entirely different world. It used to be a different experience every time. I used to stop talking, listening etc and just, you know, focus on my train of thoughts turning into black and white gloriously. Now when I edit or format the book over and over again, I come across some points when I have to ask myself if I really did write that and I don’t remember the intensity that made me write that.
How was your experience publishing your first book? What are the difficulties you faced?
Let’s face it the biggest problem in Pakistan is that although we are on our way to becoming a developed country – we are still very much under developed especially when it comes to publishing. We don’t have the sort of literary publishing houses who could help us format books. We need to figure it out on our own and it gets frustrating at times. I had been thinking of publishing the book for a year and now. In 2020, I thought maybe it’s time. The beta readers, whom I gave my copies, loved it. So my friends thought it’s better if I just push it out rather than hide it somewhere never to be found.
Amazon is a great self-publishing service for unsolicited writers but they don’t deliver to Pakistan as often nor do they give Pakistanis a chance to add their bank account to the KDP. You need to really get into it to figure it all out. Thankfully, Ayesha Muzaffar helped me with all my annoying questions, big time. However, once Amazon was taken care of the next big question was how I would be distributing my books in Pakistan. That’s when I approached Ommer from Daastan and told him I wanted to go for the POD option. Since then Ommer and Daastan have been nothing but helpful throughout the procedure. After getting it all sorted, I stumbled across Pakistan Book Readers Club (I’d been inactive on social media for quite some time) & their team as well as members are the most supportive human beings I’ve come across after my friends, haha.
Who inspired you to write Red Sugar, No More? Tell us a little about the book.
It’s a very common notion that healing only takes 7 steps to accept and let go of denial, guilt, regret and whatnot. However, when you actually do have to heal it’s a totally different story. It takes so much time and emotional investment to move on from one step only to come back to it after some time again. It’s a complete try, try again situation. You get tired. You get angry. You get frustrated at yourself and the world. You start to see negatives in every single thing around you. You start to romanticize pain & believe that you don’t deserve anything better. Self-doubt is your meal and depression, your lover. Healing is a very difficult process and it does not come that easily. My book Red Sugar, No More is all about that. It portrays the mental space of a person who is in the process of healing.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Contrary to popular beliefs, writing does not come to you by reading too much. Writing comes to you through your heart from your feelings & experiences – from what you know because you can’t write about anything that you don’t feel connected to. We actually had quite the debate on it as well in one of our classes that if a writer does not write something he feels strongly about, maybe the writing is not worth reading because it’s fake. Obviously, it’s just a debate and there are pros and cons to everything; there are different styles of writing as well. However, you don’t have to read too much just so you could write.
Readers and writers are two very different sorts of people. Understand that and don’t be hard on yourself. Writing would come to you when it is the right time for you! My only message for you is to never stop believing in yourself because if I can make it work … anyone can. And an even more important message for your friends and family is that if you know someone who is trying to launch themselves in whatever capacity, please support them by promoting their creativity, by buying their skill not by asking for it for free that’s just rude and harsh to someone who’s trying to make it out as a newbie.
This is Ms. Sijdah Hussain. Her book ‘Red Sugar, No More‘ is currently available for Pre-order here. We are proud to help Ms. Sijdah Hussain reach out readers and wish her the best of luck for her book!
Urdu writers in Pakistan have been decreasing lately. One reason for its downfall is the traditional publishing methods used by Urdu publishers. There has been a decline in Urdu language since English writers and publishers in Pakistan have grown quickly in the past few years. It is a crucial time for Urdu readers and writers to save the glory of the dying language. Daastan has been working towards the improvement of the literary space in Pakistan. Through digitizing the publishing process, Daastan seeks to revive the reading and writing culture in Pakistan.
How Daastan Supports Urdu Writers
Since its inception, Daastan has been keen to promote education, literacy and healthy learning in Pakistan. Daastan has always laid equal importance on literature in Urdu as well as English. At Qissa we have published around 70 Urdu books and are working on many more. We believe the best way to keep a language alive is to read it. Since Urdu is our national language, we know it a lot better than English, which means we can write better in this language. While writing in English, most writers struggle with translating their thoughts into words. With Urdu, it is a lot easier consequently producing finer stories.
Services For Urdu Writers
Daastan provides Editing services for Urdu writers. Our Urdu Editorial works with the author to help them improve their book. A basic level editing includes spell check, and editor’s advice on improving the manuscript. This level of editing is required for ebook publishing. Level 2 for Urdu editing includes grammar check, fixing the sentence structure and formatting the text. Our Editor will discuss your story, layout and characters in detail and work with you to improve the text. At the third level, our Editor will guide you with formatting the book for print, after a detailed overview of the text. Any required changes will be made with the help of expert Urdu Editors to ensure good quality of your book. Our Urdu Editorial also offers a customised Mentorship program for writers where you can learn and explore different genres and writing techniques through exercises.
Importance Of Urdu Language
The world today is no longer disconnected. Countries are interdependent in terms of economic, political and social activities. In this global village, sticking to regional languages seems like a backward idea to many. Most writers want their name to be known all over the world. Pakistani writers too, perhaps carry the same vision. To broaden their market and reach out more people, writers stick to English language. On the contrary, protecting and safeguarding your language is probably more important today than ever. With an increasing threat to smaller cultures and languages, we need to make sure that our language survives and flourishes.
If you are an Urdu writer, Daastan is the best place for you. We do not treat your books as merely a product that has to be sold. For us, it is our cause. Publish your book with us today and join our mission to revive the reading culture in Pakistan!
You already know by now, how obsessed we are with Book Launches. A group of people, all book lovers, gather around to celebrate the launch of a new book! What else can be more exciting? Our recent Book Launch was almost the best example of a growing literary space in Pakistan. Our talented writer, Dr. Shehzad Ali Baloch launched his book titled ‘Laboratory Interpretation on Fingertips‘. Here is a small flashback of the event.
How We Celebrated!
On 18thMarch2020, we celebrated the launch of Dr Shehzad Baloch’s book ‘Laboratory Interpretation on Fingertips‘ at Qazi Mazhar Auditorium, Indus Medical College in Sindh. The event was attended by teachers and students. The honorable guest for the event was the Vice Chancellor of Indus Medical College. Through this platform, students interacted with professors and the writer himself in order to learn about the book. We love the literary aura of such gatherings where one can learn from the experiences of fellow writers and teachers. Read Book here :
First and foremost, however effective social media marketing may be, word-of-mouth and physical interaction with your target audience is the best way to channel your message. Apart from spreading your message, events like these are highly informative and interactive. People who genuinley crave to learn will attend such an event consequently, producing a very filtered audience to engage with. If you have published your book, you should market it well, and the first step to market is a book launch!
So become a part of our struggle to broaden up the literary space of Pakistan. Sign Up with Daastan to be invited to the next literary event. Who knows, you might be the next host!