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!
Good writers are always known for their writing skills. Many writers have tremendous stories to tell but only a good story-teller with a polished writing style will find their way to the reader’s heart. The Pakistani publishing industry is growing at an incredible pace. However, as publishers, we come across beautiful stories that lack communication and skill. It is always the hardest task to reject a brilliant story that is not well-written. For this very reason, Daastan has worked out a perfect plan for you to improve your writing skills! Grab a pen and paper, and start the exercise today!
Your Go-to ‘Writing Skills‘ Work-out Plan!
1. Warm Up the brain!
Your mind needs experiences to store new information. Human beings learn from the social memory that they build through interactions with others. Your writing skills require the same warm up. Read! Before jumping off to experimentation, make sure you have the required equipment. Read as much as you can and learn different writing techniques. Reading more will help you differentiate between a good book and a boring one. Identify what keeps you glued to the book and then use that trick to catch your reader. Is your brain active enough now? Great, because its time for you to jog!
2. Onto The Jog..
This is your time to build up that stamina. Hold on to all you have gathered from reading and start applying. Begin with the grammar skills. Tiny mistakes can leave a lasting impression. Your warm-up stage will help you a lot here. Since your memory is fresh with the reading, you are exactly at the right jogging track! (Pun intended) Secondly, don’t forget to look out for your imagination. Your reader needs to explore the universe created within your story. For that, you need to explore it first. Map out your story, characters and situations. Measure each tiny detail intricately. You are the creator of your story. Make sure you leave no loopholes. If you begin with an idea in your story, do not leave it hanging. Reach a conclusion and inject it into your reader.
3. Squat Out Your Expression!
Learning to write well? Why not show it off? Once you have a grip over your grammar, its time to pull the reader deeper into your universe. Work on your descriptions. Talk about each and everything you can to paint the most realistic image. Use your creativity and characterize your surroundings. Make the reader immerse themselves in your story. If you talk about the wind, describe how cool or hot it is. Is it dancing or swinging softly? Use the auditory senses and talk about the whistling sound your wind is making. In short, let your reader feel and view what they are reading.
4. Stretch And Chill
The last stage of your exercise is the most crucial one. You can’t leave your warmed-up body just like that. You need to stretch and let it cool down. Similarly, your draft needs stretching. Proof read your text over and over again. Check for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and discard any unnecessary details. The more you read your draft the better you can fix it. Imagine being the reader and explore your story. Make the most of this stage because once you publish or submit your manuscript, you immediately leave your impression.
Great Job, your writing skills are coming in shape! Try out this easy and simple workout plan to get fit in what you do best. Once your manuscript is ready, Daastan will help you design, publish and market it. So start working out today and reach out to us for technical assistance at any time. We are just a click away!
After successfully providing publishing opportunities to thousands of national and international writers, team Daastan decided to dig deeper into the writing niche. We thought what else could help writers earn money through their skill. We found that one of the biggest and untapped niches in Pakistan was the freelance market! However, while there was a huge demand for freelance content by both established and new organizations, only a handful of individuals were actually availing these opportunities.
We found that surprising and after some research realized that there was a lack of communication between companies and writers. A large number of writers were willing to work, but they did not know how to look for jobs and those who did were disappointed with the apparent lack of work. We decided to fix that and so launchedDaastan Freelance Wing-– a less-competitive freelance marketplace exclusively for Pakistani writers.
Daastan was able to connect writers with career opportunities. We helped writers monetize their consequently creating a name for themselves in their respective professional fields. In its first year, the freelance wing saw an overwhelming number of writers signing up.
Writing encompasses all fields, which means that we were able to create opportunities for career growth for individuals in a number of different fields. These included Literature, Finance, Medicine, Sports and more. Our army of writers was building up which resulted in an increase in numbers day after day.
Impact of Freelance Wing
We ran a 12-month prototype and initially had 20 active freelancers. Catering to over 30 clients in 10+ countries, our writers were able to finish 105 orders in a short period of time and earn an approx. 5000 Rs, per month. By the end of the year, our freelance family had grown from 20 to 70+ active freelancers strong. We reached a point where we were distributing 1.5 to 2 lac rupees per month in the team. With such numbers in hand we decided to go public and opened a beta version of Daastan’s Freelance Marketplace.
A total of 55 positions were opened for the beta access wing initially, with 15 slots for Engineering, 14 for Finance, 5 for Medical, 13 for Arts and Humanities and 8 for Literature. Today, Daastan’s Freelancers cater to a large number of local and global clients with professional and engaging content, edited to perfection for a lasting impact.
Want to become part of our team? Join our Facebook page or signup for Qissa to publish your next book!
As the last episode of Mused by Daastan aired last week, we experienced a plethora of emotions. On one hand we are sad to pause this journey of learning – while on the other, hopeful for the future. The response we gathered is inspiring and motivating enough to push us further. Have a look at what our host Ms. Summaiya Naveed had to say about this.
We started Mused with the vision to help creatives—a vision we will take forward as the series advances. For now, I hope the first season has helped aspiring writers and given them a nudge towards achieving their dreams. I’ve had a great time creating such content for you and an even better time having conversations with the viewers. You’re an inspiring lot and you give our team the motivation we need to keep putting in our part in the development of the Pakistani Literary industry. What is needed most now is work. Work to distinguish ourselves as a people of superior intellect and an awe-inspiring amount of talent. The first season of Mused leaves me hopeful that we’re talking a step towards achieving that very goal.
Ms Summaiya Naveed expressing her feelings on the last episode of Mused
A Recap of Season 1 – Mused
This season, Summaiya discussed in great detail, the issues related to writing and publishing. We started off with learning the common writing mistakes, Do’s and Don’ts of writing and errors that most writers and publishers make. Then we moved on to the state of our Publishing industry,scope for writers and the condition as well as future of the writers’ community of Pakistan. We were joined by two guests who shared their own experiences and gave useful tips along the way. We had a special episode on writing poetry– on account of the proliferation of poetry writers in our community.
What We Discused In Episode 6
1. Issues With English Language
Firstly, Summaiya shared her opinion on the use of the global lingua franca – English Language. According to her, Languages have socio-political importance. In South Asia, specifically the areas affected by colonization, English language became a symbol of status. The higher classes who merged well with the British and learned the language, associated an attitude of pride with English. We have perhaps inherited the same behaviour. Summaiya condemned this attitude and explained how languages are primarily a means of communication only. Language should not be used to claim superiority or make someone else feel belittled.
According to Summaiya, the role of English in dividing social classes has created a hindrance for those who wish to improve their language. The fear of being ridiculed for pronouncing something incorrectly keeps people away from actually learning the language. Summaiya advised us to change this behaviour towards the language and encourage people to learn in a healthy way.
Secondly, Summaiya discussed the issue of plagiarism in great detail. First and foremost, she explained how plagiarism is a serious crime. In simple words, it refers to the act of copying someone else’s work and putting it as your own consequently, giving no due credit to the owner. This is plainly cheating on someone. It is morally incorrect and demotivating for creatives to work. Summaiya expressed her concern over the absence of laws to protect creatives from plagiarism. There needs to be a certain amount of accountability to avoid crimes like plagiarism. Publishing companies should regulate the content brought by authors to make sure it is not plagiarised.
Daastan is proud to have shared this journey with you all. It is our mission to promote literary activities and discussions through such platforms like Mused. We hope that writers benefited from these Lives sessions and we aim to keep bringing informative content for our followers. Sign Up at Daastan and keep yourself engaged in similar content!
Intellectual theft is the act of using someone else’s work without giving them credit. While it may not seem as big an issue in a country like Pakistan, it does affect us in many ways. Recently, a National Award winning Science WriterMr. Muneeb Ali raised his voice on the issue. The sad part about his effort was the absence of any response from the media, journalists or the government, who would otherwise happily use his content for their own means. Have a look at what he had to say :
He even took his message to more heated social media platforms like Twitter but found no luck.
Next, he made a video on YouTube, providing the video of Mr. Mubashir Lucman as proof of his claim. In the video, Mr. Mubashir Lucman was reading out the exact words from Syed Muneeb Ali’s article – portraying them as his own. Have a look at the video:
Fighting Issues of Intellectual Theft
In Conversation with Syed Muneeb Ali
Why do journalists feel entitled to own any content for their show? Why, in your opinion, are people not concerned with giving credit to the content creator?
Well, this is a long debate but in my opinion, the reason behind this is ‘insult’. We feel ashamed in saying “I don’t know” about things we actually don’t know. Let’s suppose if the piracy scandals of mainstream journalists got exposed and they’re entitled as the ‘content narrator’ then their audience will be in the condition of doubt and will try to seek the original content creator for a more authentic information, consequently affecting their viewership. To escape from public embarrassment, they don’t mention the author’s name and present the content as if it’s their own property.
As a writer, how do you plan on safeguarding your content in future?
Being a writer, it’s more difficult and painful for me to see my content freely distributed without my name than to make a blog story on any topic. I’m aware of the fact that media piracy happens worldwide, but the system of law enforcement is what makes a difference between the world and Pakistan. I can’t do anything to safeguard my content except creating awareness through social media. However, it’s a fact that when the source is out of reach, then you can make consumers aware of the fact and this will automatically affect the so-called reputation of the source.
What measures should law enforcement agencies/government take to ensure protection of intellectual property?
If we want to see the originality or authenticity of the content being generated by some company or a country, we’ll first research about the intellectual property protection in it. In Pakistan, where we see the content being stolen, we need to make the National Response Center for Cybercrime active in not only catching the harassment or bullying cases on social media but also in responding the piracy reports. Interestingly, in copying content both senior and junior writers are equally active in Pakistan (Here is the Equality! Ah!) but only seniors are caught because they are popular among the audience. Back in 2019, 50+ articles written by me which are originally published at DAWN news were copied to about 200+ websites which includes the websites of Hassan Nisar, Javed Chaudhary and newspaper ‘Nai Baat’ etc.
Legal Opinion On The Scandal
We discussed the issue of Intellectual theft with a Lawyer, Mr Omer Imran. Mr Omer has been an active lawyer in advocating social issues in Pakistan. Here is what he had to say on Syed Muneeb’s issue:
There are laws in Pakistan protecting IP and copyright. Under the law of Pakistan, all cases related to IP infringement (an act which carries civil and criminal liabilities) lie towards specialized IP Tribunals. Under our copyright laws, you cannot blatantly copy any original work of an author and reproduce it without credit and make a profit. (You cannot in many cases even reproduce it with credit to the original author if you are making money from the reproduction) unless you have the permission of the copyright owner.
This clearly shows how journalists, as mentioned and proven by Mr Muneeb Ali, are commiting a crime by openly using content that does not belong to them. However, neither writers nor the targeted individuals know how and when to take action.
Is Intellectual Theft Really That Harmful?
Well, yes! It is rather more harmful than stealing a material possession. A material possession will eventually run out and probably only benefit the thief. However, stealing an idea will discourage the content creator from sharing his content any further. This will consequently slow down intellectual development of an entire society. It is time for us to learn as a society, what should matter more and why. Daastan has been promoting intellectual development from the get go. It is in these collective priorities that we define ourselves. We thank Mr Muneeb Ali for raising his voice on such an important issue. We hope that our priorities and attitudes towards scholarship, ethics and morals will change.
If you have any similar experiences then write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sign Up to receive updates on similar issues. Together, we must change!