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!
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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.
It is sad how hundreds of stories are not published because of a lack of confidence or funds. The labour that goes into creating and nurturing a story is unmatched. Although there are numerous challenges a writer faces while publishing their book, it is yet priceless, to finally hold your own book and see people reading it all across the globe. South-Asian writers in particular, have to deal with both, the limited options available while publishing their work, and a lack of funds available. The inadequate laws regarding plagiarism and intellectual theft are further barrier. Many countries have weak law enforcement which is why plagiarism is common. Despite these drawbacks, to publish your own book is not an alien idea anymore. If you are a budding writer shying away from taking the first big step, here is a guide to help you start off.
How To Publish Your Book
Step 1 : Work on your Content
If you have a story ready, skip this step. If you’re starting from scratch, begin by drafting your story. Make a rough outline of the events that will take place at the beginning, middle and at the end of your story. Sketch out your characters and develop them beyond the premise of your story. Knowing your character well is one way of making sure that you’re presenting them in an authentic manner. When you start writing, maintain an undertone that will set a theme for your story. Stick to your theme, tone and style to engage the reader and allow them to familiarize themselves with your story. Keep writing and do not lose your will. Set a daily/weekly target and abide by it. And, you’re ready to go!
Step 2 : Format the raw content
If you have hand-written your story, begin typing it. This will help you re-read and edit any mistakes. If you have your text typed already, choose a good font. It is best to go with basic fonts like Times New Roman, that are familiar to your readers. You can take help from an online manuscript format like William Shun’s. Check it out here. To get you started, set your font size to 12 points, leave margins on both sides and use a black color for text. Remember, do not make it fancy, let the reader focus solely on your story.
Step 3 : Proof-read and Edit
It goes without saying, proof-reading is an essential step on your way. Look for spelling/grammar mistakes. An easier and faster way to do this is using an app to check it for you. If nothing fancy, just put your text in Microsoft Word and fix the tiny errors. It is also important at this stage, to alter or edit any phrases you feel are repeated, unnecessary or cliché . Reading out loud also helps make sense of your expression. Try reading your manuscript to a friend or use an app that will narrate your text. Listening will help you pick mistakes easily. One common error that writers often make is using one word over and over again. Pick that word and try replacing it with another. Can you guess the next step? Publish!
Step 4 : Publish!
Step 4 is as challenging as it can get. We here at Daastan help you make it easier. From editing and formatting to designing your cover page and then launching and marketing the book, we have got you all covered. To have a detailed idea of our process, give a look at our blog ‘5 Ways Daastan can help you launch your dream book ‘ We aim to discover and channel all the hidden, untold stories of brilliant writers like you and promote local writers. So, take Step 5 and sign up with Daastan and Publish your book now!
For any budding writer, publishing their own book is ‘The Dream ‘. Most writers dream of publishing because they are also enthusiastic readers and know the value of a good book. The more books we read, the more we want to have. To own it is yet another privilege. Good readers eventually become good writers and the bigger this circle grows, the better informed a society becomes.
With the fast-paced life that we have all become a part of, it is very important that we emphasize on staying connected and rooted. Reading good literature is the easiest route to widening your horizons. It is the writer who enables a reader to leap into another universe simply by delving into the palm of their hands. Are you that writer who wants to share your universe with the world? Here are 5 ways we can help you publish your own book.
Steps To Launch Your Own Book
Step 1 : Composing the Book
Daastan aims at connecting readers and writers by publishing, digitizing,marketing and distributing books to promote a literary culture in our society. We start by helping you compose your book. Composition is the key to a success. Composition includes editing and formating the text, building the structure of the book and adjusting the tone and style of your writing according to the theme of your story.
Step 2 : Designing the Cover
Once the content is streamlined, we design the cover. For that, we work with the best designers to develop an attractive and catchy outlook of your book. Although it is politically incorrect to judge a book by its cover, it is unfortunately exactly what happens most of the times. Simultaneously, our editor works on the text by proof-reading and editing to ensure a faultless masterpiece.
Step 3 : Marketing your Book for Sales
When we are done with the Behind-the-scenes tasks, we approach yet another vital task: Marketing of the published books. Through our social media platforms, we market books to reach the maximum public. At this stage, we help you arrange a book launch and attract as many buyers as possible.
Step 4 : Distribution of your Book
After marketing and building up customers for you, we distribute your books for sale in shops, and through the online book distribution services of Literati Choice. We make sure that you are kept aware of all your sales. We deliver the sold books to your customers and hand over the sales amount directly to you.
Step 5 : Let’s Get Started
The above-mentioned stages are very important while self-publishing your book. Publishing in Pakistan is challenging because there are limited channels and options available. Daastan helps in making this task fairly easy and successful. You alone cannot carry out all the essential stages of writing and publishing. For that, we here at Daastan make sure that the best editors, designers and marketing team is made available to you all under one roof.
It is then in the hands of the readers to help promote local writers and to develop the habit of reading as part of self-improvement. A well-read society has very little fear of failing and falling. Through reading, we not only explore unique ideas but also learn from the experiences of others which helps us improve our problem-solving skills. Even if you’re not interested in writing, reading nevertheless develops your communication skills. Good readers therefore, also become good listeners and good speakers!
If you are the writer we’re talking about, seeking to publish your Dream book, here is your best chance at Publishing your work. Sign up with Daastan and take the first step towards achieving your goal!
Among the most fearless, most resilient creatures on earth are the soldiers of a country that fight and bleed for the protection of their beloved homeland. Over the course of 72 years, Pakistan has been no stranger to war. Today our history books are filled with countless sombre and often gruesome yet heroic accounts of our brave soldiers. We hear about them from our grandparents, watch and read through their lives, priding in their bravery; basking in their glory. One such story is that of Maj. Aziz Bhatti.
The Tale of Maj. Aziz Bhatti
One such life story is of the receiver of the Nishaan-e-Haider, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed. His is a name familiar to every man, woman and child of Pakistan. He is a national hero; an awe-inspiring leader who led a limited number of soldiers to carry out a fiercedefense of the Burki area of the Lahore sector in the 1965 war with India. Despite being outnumbered and under unceasing fire from the enemy, Maj. Aziz Bhatti launched a strong, impenetrable defense against the Indian Army. Dismissing offers to rest or even see his family members in Lahore, our hero soldiered on. During an intense exchange of artillery fires between the two armies, he was hit by an enemy tank shell and embraced Shahadat.
The valiant soldier stood undaunted in the face of the raging enemy and laid down his own life to protect countless others.
Bringing his Story Back to Life
This is the aspect of his courageous story that we are familiar with. But what most don’t know is who Maj. Aziz Bhatti was, without the title. Who he was as a person, a son, a friend. When, earlier this year, his brotherSardar Ahmed Bhatti reached out to Daastan with the intention of publishing a biography he had written about his brother, we were honored to be chosen for the task. Written from the perspective of a loving brother, the book gives an insight into previously unknown events of Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s life, his relationship and closeness with his brother, his life in Hong Kong as a boy before and during World War II and several unpublished, memorable pictures.
As a platform bent towards literary revival, Daastan strives to bring lost stories to life; stories that are worth being told and preserved. We are proud to be the means of bringing forth this heart-warming account of Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s life away from the border, to the public. The book titled “Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Hero” is available on Qissa’s website and has received over-whelming responses and appreciation from all over the country on our social media.
To honor the story of Pakistan’s son, a book launch ceremony is being held on the 12th of September from 14:30-17:30 at the Pakistan Academy of Letters, hosted by Daastan. On this Defence Day, as we look back to the lives of our warriors, let us seek inspiration from their courage and glean wisdom from their actions. Join us on the 12th to remember the sacrifices Maj. Aziz Bhatti has made for the protection of this beloved homeland. As we stand with the Shaheed’s family, we stand united under the slogan that kept him standing for so long, holding his own– unbroken, relentless–in front of the enemy: Pakistan Zindabad!
You can order your copy of Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Herohere.