Wolfspeak: Compulsion Reads

by wolf on September 18, 2013

CR-Seal2I once asked a film producer what his job was like.

“You keep throwing merde at a wall,” he said, “And wait to see if some of it sticks.”

I didn’t understand him at the time, but of course he was right. The merde throwing process obtains as well for writers and artists, where it is called “getting the work out there.”

I once heard the poet Allen Ginsberg sum it up this way: “I spend 25% of my time writing and 75% being Allen Ginsberg.”

Now Breathing for Two is published, I’ve lately been spending 75% of my time being Breathing for Two’s author.

As perhaps a million new books are published every year, the trouble for an author boils down to something called discoverability. A Mickey Mouse Club sort of concept, if ever there was.

Readers suffer the reciprocal trouble of sorting wheat from chaff.

In the old days, publishing houses were the gatekeepers of quality work, the submissions they discarded or wouldn’t even read comprising the slush pile. Now the slush pile is self-published along with the quality work on Amazon, and everyone must sort things out for themselves.

Amazon features best-selling work, of course, but that’s not the same as quality work. Amazon reviews, a good idea in principle, are largely faked. What is this world coming to?

Enter Compulsion Reads.

Compulsion Reads, Awesome Indies, Indie Reader, Brag, and probably a lot of other websites I haven’t discovered yet propose to put a stamp of approval on new and worthy books by author-publishers such as myself.

It works like this: an author sends his manuscript to the website and one or more reviewers read it. If the book passes muster, it’s given a seal like the one above.

I sent Breathing for Two in to Compulsion Reads and they liked it. It’s now featured on their website, and they published a review which closes with this paragraph:

Breathing for Two is a short and sweet gem. I worry that some readers will glance at it, think—What do I care about anesthesiology? – and pass on it. You will care about anesthesiology when you read this book, I promise. More importantly, Pascoe writes so well that you will get the opportunity to step in his shoes and see the world a little differently. What more can you ask for in a book?

Compulsion Reads has also given me their seal, which I’m free to put on the cover of my book. As seals go, this one is pretty classy looking. There’s a seal for the Nobel Prize too, but this one looks classier.

Of course I’m grateful to Compulsion Reads because they liked my book. But I’m also grateful because their process worked. As a playwright, I’m used to sending my manuscripts out to different venues, some of which actually asked for the work, and then never hearing back one way or the other, the play disappearing into a black hole.

These guys were respectful and purposeful. They answered emails. They did what they said they would. I’ve looked at other books they’ve endorsed and they’re good ones. I believe Awesome Indies, Indie Reader, and Brag function in the same way, and are motivated by the same idealism.

If you’ve looking for a good book, you could do worse than give any of them a try.

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