Is this the literary revolution Pakistan needs?

‘In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.’

– Dalai Lama

Since we like to think the worse of ourselves, it’s our favorite assumption that literature is pretty much dead in Pakistan. The truth is, it’s not the love of literature that’s lacking, but proper platforms and opportunities for both book-lovers and writers are scant. If a Pakistani writer wants to get published, he’ll probably have to spend years trying to find the paths to the hearts of the literary gatekeepers. The ones lucky will be the the writers of the few genres that are accepted in Pakistan’s literary industry nowadays.

Who cast this spell that has frozen our literary industry? Pakistani readers have by no means a limited taste. We can see this by the popularity of books from diverse genres in Pakistan. If Harry Potter is adored by readers from all age groups here, books like The Alchemist are equally loved. What we really needed were platforms to promote both reading and writing in diverse fields of literature.

The same need to connect with an audience motivated some writers to get together and create a literary forum which is today empowering many Pakistani writers by allowing them to self-publish their works. Daastan is a literary platform that started with one writer’s struggle to get published and became Pakistan’s first digital publishing platform.

The fault was never in our stars – it’s our behavior that was scattered. The publishing industry couldn’t embrace technology and hence couldn’t progress the way it should have with time. Syed Ommer Amer, the founder of Daastan, along with his team, decided to change that. Pakistan’s first digital publishing platform, Qissa, was built to enable Pakistani writers self-publish their works digitally without spending anything. As of now, 100+ authors have been published in 11 genres and two languages.

Qissa allows its users to sign up and use its important features for free. The online editor allows writers to paste or type their works and format them online. Users can also keep track of their book sales and performance through the advanced analytics feature. It’s still in a testing phase but writers from all across Pakistan are joining this platform to connect with their potential audiences. Could this be the game changer Pakistan’s literary scene was waiting for?

Daastan has also run many successful crowd-funding campaigns to help its writers get published. Tooba Arshad, a young Pakistani author was the first one to publish her novel ‘Unveiling the Unknown’ through a crowd-funding campaign run by Daastan. Unveiling the Unknown is a Mystery novel featuring the adventures of a sixteen year old protagonist.

It’s time we let in diversity in Pakistan’s literary scene. A literary revolution in Pakistan might not be far away; at least that’s what we can see from the passion with which Pakistani writers are using this platform to showcase their craft. Daastan has not only introduced digital self-publishing in Pakistan, but has also inspired many other literary platforms that have emerged recently.

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