SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) – Hurairah Yasir’s discussions on faith and doubt with her mates at a boarding school in the northern Baramulla district of Kashmir impacted her to an extent that she decided to write a book. She was in class 9, aged 14.
“I couldn’t resist myself. I wanted to say it all, about my perception of God. I believe that nothing is worth anything without a belief in the divine,” she said.
In 2020, The Merciful Lover and A Faith Snatcher was published by an external publishing house. The book is about two brothers Imaad, a believer, and Idrees, a skeptic who reconciles with God in the end.
Hurairah is one of the dozens of Kashmiri young writers who make it to newspaper front pages frequently after paying publishing houses to get their books published. Ecstatic headlines place stress on the author’s age.
After realizing that some Kashmiri youngsters were paying as much as Rupees 80,000 ($980) for an initial print of 10 copies to outside publishers, Shahid Mohiuddin, a computer sciences student at the University of Kashmir, decided to start a publishing house in Kashmir, which offers “affordable packages” for the aspiring self-publishing writers.
The 8000-rupee (US$98) package offered by Shahid’s Wular Publishing House includes 10 print copies and a kindle edition with ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) registration. The publishing house’s editorial staff also copy-edits a manuscript for a small additional fee.
Shahid shared that several poor youngsters’ books were published free of cost and some were given heavy discounts.
On average, the Wular Publishing House receives five to six manuscripts a month from aspiring young writers, most of them boys and many of whom are still in secondary school. The works are scrutinized for plagiarism using special software.
Nearly half of the total 70 titles the Wular Publishing House has published to date are books of fiction, non-fiction, or a combination of the two by young writers, said Shahid.
Since its founding three years ago, the publishing house has rejected about 50 manuscripts, Shahid said, with advice to the writers to “improve the quality of the writing till it is worth publication”.