There are two major problems in our local context leading to a declining culture of reading and befriending libraries to find and explore new writings. The first one is the low literacy rate as most poor families are left with no options except to force their young ones into child labor to make the ends meet. Resultantly, most of the remote schools and colleges in rural areas are being used to safeguard livestock. The quasi teachers are surely present on the day their salary is dispatched. In these circumstances, we can certainly not expect to have a profound reading culture developing in Pakistan so here comes Dastaan, Pakistan’s first self-publishing platform.
Introduction to Dastaan: Pakistan’s Self-publishing Platform
Moving ahead and putting these major problems to one side for a while, if few children are lucky enough to get a basic education, every talented mind can never anticipate getting the job or profession of one’s interest due to various glass ceilings on the way. Although this holds true for most professions, we will delimit our focus on the impediments faced by Pakistani budding writers. The limited number of publishing houses, book agents, and editors are available to review your manuscripts making it quite difficult and time-consuming to reach an international audience.
The first mammoth task is to find some renowned publishers among 2277 registered publishers in Pakistan and the next one has to spend an extra amount so that your content is promoted to reach the relevant readership. This mere number of publishers reduces the opportunity for Pakistani writers compared with over 400000 publishers found in countries like America and the same holds true for other European countries. These circumstances paved the way for the startup titled Dastaan solely meant to revive literature and publishing opportunities for Pakistani writers.
Dastaan: The Self Publishing Forum
Syed Ommer was one of the many budding writers seeking some good opportunities to publish their works but had a hard time finding any good publishing house. As a result, he came up with an idea to launch a startup where other writers like him can easily publish their works of varying genres. The forum was launched in 2014 and initially provided consultancy services to guide young writers in understanding the basic guidelines to follow for publishing a book.
In addition, Dastaan also acted as a freelance marketplace for young writers who wish to help others with their writing abilities. Now Dastaan is well known for its publishing as well as the freelancing service provider. The former exists as Qissa, a sub-branch of Daastan whose purpose is to provide self-publishing opportunities to young Pakistani writers.
Qissa: A Similar Platform Providing Self-publishing Opportunities
In case some of you are aware of Amazon’s CreateSpace, Qissa was developed on similar working principles where you sign up followed by uploading your work on the dashboard. You will receive some quick tips from the editor after a comprehensive review of your draft and your work is ready to publish.
Your manuscripts will be shared on multiple platforms. Innumerable books have been published and read multiple times through this platform booming at a rapid pace. Multiple authors have gained widespread attention through their writings and were interviewed on electronic, print, and social media platforms.
Distinctive Attributes of Dastaan
There are certain aspects that make your contribution unique from merely posting your content on a blog. Through Qissa, your writing would be presented before the audience with a book cover. Yes, you are reading it right. Your work will be distributed among all retail stores as an ebook with an ISBN number. Looks cool and it would certainly leave an impact on your audience. That is the reason all the competitions held under Qissa have remained a huge success.
Continued Support to Budding Writers
The Stories Untold received 80 contributions in 2015 out of which 25 got published on various online platforms. The competition got even more exciting with the grant received from the US Institute of Peace. The event caught international attention as multiple Indian authors also participated in the event. This time 30 works were published online and received insightful feedback from critics across the world. Dastaan provides continued support to budding writers who aspire to get connected with renowned publishing houses in the form of negotiations with contractors.
Crowdfunding Campaigns by Dastaan
Furthermore, the forum also arranges crowdfunding campaigns so that threshold revenue can be generated to publish the novel writings of young authors of Pakistan. If you are still guessing the estimated amount generated by Daastan, they arranged around 100000 rupees for publishing the books of two authors. Many other campaigns are still ongoing. The platform also arranges book launching ceremonies for the crowdfunded young authors bridging the gap between writers, writings, and the target audience.
Revenue Generation by Dastaan
In case you are wondering about the startup’s own foundation and financial support, the revenue is generated by the freelancing services offered worldwide. The writing services are outsourced to multiple national and international SMEs. You won’t believe it, but Dastaan has generated more than ten thousand dollars in a single year and continues to expand the foreign currency influx to stabilize the local currency reserves.
When you have entered the circle of international writers, you can anticipate some good competition to reach the right audience. Therefore, the audience will find you if you are ranking better compared to other authors. And all this becomes possible if you are able to review your performance with detailed analytics. Fortunately, the Dastaan family has upgraded their system, enhancing some features through which writers can analyze their own standing in the book marketplace.
Facebook Marketing Campaigns
The young authors are able to identify the places where they can improve their writing styles and resultantly become a lot better in their upcoming manuscripts. After joining hands with Telenor, Easypaisa is also enabled on the Dastaan portal for smooth transactions of all the payments to and from the system. This venture has also paved the way for holding Facebook marketing campaigns through which Dastaan writers receive a large volume of organic traffic on their Facebook pages.
An important point to mention which sets Dastaan apart from all other publishing houses is that the forum does not conduct professional editing services. Conversely, it only deals with proofreading the author’s manuscript so that grammatical mistakes can be omitted to make it a perfect document ready for publication. Other than these minor editing services, Dastaan mainly targets appropriate distribution and promotion of your content to reach the intended audience.
Forthcoming Opportunities by Dastaan
The journey of Dastaan’s success does not end here as new ventures are being signed with several international enterprises. Bombadil is one of the renowned publishing houses based in Scotland. Now that the agreement is final, Bombadil will distribute seventy-five thousand tablets among school-level students who are willing to purchase these on a subscription basis. The best part of these tablets is that children would be able to find books written under the umbrella of Dastaan.
Getting Started With Dastaan
If you have a manuscript, there is nothing to worry about.
Submit Your Manuscript on Dastaan’s Dashboard
Just go to canva.com and design a beautiful book cover that aligns with the theme of your written work. Download it and submit it alongside the manuscript on Dastaan’s dashboard. The team will guide you if your manuscript meets all the requirements to get published. There are a few contracts and agreements which you are supposed to sign to avail Dastaan’s services. The language is simple. Therefore, you will be able to understand all the terms and conditions of becoming part of Dastaan’s family of writers.
Becoming a Remote Worker
One of the great benefits provided by Dastaan is that you can become a remote writer from your comfort zone. In other words, you are not required to be at some workstation. Rather, you can submit your manuscript at your time of convenience. Many writers who joined the platform got lazy and vanished from Dastaan after submitting a few manuscripts.
Submitting the Annual Fee
Dastaan has introduced a mere annual fee for all writers who wish to retain their membership and keep themselves active to contribute to the platform. Dastaan provides good opportunities to libraries and bookstores which are targeting multicultural, multilevel audiences with varying levels of interest.
Provision of Digital Marketing Agents
Digital Marketing Agents would help your business grow and expand to index in search engines so that readers can easily find their favorite books at your store. In case some of you are thinking regarding any hidden charges as part of the process, Dastaan takes the book registration charges for completing the legal documentation of your book to avoid fallacious copyrights claims from anonymous resources.
Distribution in Retail Bookstores
Furthermore, if you wish to get your book printed and published, then there are some additional charges for getting your book printed and distributed in retail bookstores.
Many of you may have a question in mind that we have already published our content via Amazon CreateSpace being unaware of this emerging platform. If you still hold a desire to make your content accessible to the Pakistani leadership, Dastaan will help you to reach your intended audience as long as you are the rightful owner of the book.
Mentoring Options Offered by Dastaan
In case the process seems difficult as you are just starting your journey of becoming a creative writer then you are quite lucky to have arrived at the right place. Dastaan has multiple mentors who will guide you through the basics of becoming a creative writer. They will go through your content, point out your mistakes, and give you some quick tips for ranking higher and catching the attention of your target audience.
Best Selling Books Published By Dastaan
In case you are feeling the adrenaline rush inside you, Ummara Yousuf’s Journey to an Ultimate Legitimacy is a perfect masterpiece that caught the attention of Dastaan’s team of editors and reviewers. They were all impressed by the crafting abilities of Ummara and the manner in which she revealed the profound themes of human existence. It’s a must-read for your motivation.
Sijdha Hussain is another rising star who has attained international recognition through her masterpiece Red Sugar No More. The work revolves around the theme of the writer’s self-exploration during the process of writing the book itself.
Publishing Your Work in Urdu
Many of the parents would have experienced the rising disgust among teenagers for the national language as children are taught in English and forced by teachers to continue speaking in English even back at home. Resultantly, youngsters are not eager to read or collect Urdu fiction and poetry.
The same holds true for their verbal abilities over the language evident from their choice of words and expressions used to communicate with parents, relatives, and neighbors. The disgust that every child faces for the Urdu paper in the exam is the result of these circumstances and psychological pressure imposed by private schools and colleges strictly imposing English as the only medium of instruction and daily communication.
Dastaan has also realized the decline of interest among young readership in Urdu literature. Resultantly, you all can find great opportunities to publish your works in the Urdu language. Furthermore, you can also find works of renowned contributors to Urdu literature. Thus, a great variety awaits you. Take the first step and you will enter into the wonderland that you only imagined in your dreams.
How To Write Your First Manuscript?
Firstly, tell yourself while standing before the mirror that nothing is impossible. All these writers whose books got published through Dastaan or any other online publishing house are just like you. They come from the same planet and were nurtured just like you. Besides, you are one step ahead of being bilingual and holding a good command of English as well as your local or mother tongue. This bilingualism makes your mental dictionary even more rich and diverse compared to your counterparts. Now think of all the possibilities where you can make your audience think. Imagine and understand the concepts which can be comprehended by knowing the context in which those words are used.
Tips to Get Started
Sit on your favorite chair where you like to relax in your free time. Suddenly you will experience an influx of ideas storming into your mind. Of course, it happens naturally but sometimes you don’t realize that there are ideas that interconnect with many other memories which are hidden deep within your mind and rarely come out due to some unknown incidents. Never let such unique thoughts go in vain. They certainly came out for a reason.
Develop a habit of using your smartphone to jot down these points before they slip out from your memory. Once you have had enough ideas on your sticky notes, it is time to connect these random thoughts and find a way to connect these perspectives under a single theme.
You will suddenly discover the title of your manuscript. Begin freewriting without thinking about errors and mistakes. All these things are contributing to making your think deeper. As you start writing, you will realize those thoughts would come your way by themselves. Your fingers would start playing the keys of a piano instead of a laptop keyboard. Keep drafting until you can find a complete picture within your manuscript.
Congratulations, the first draft is ready but that does not mean that it is ready to publish. You need to revise, edit and proofread your draft alongside adding some relevant headings. Now, you may consider it as your final draft and ready to publish. Give it a try and you will be proud of yourself.