Over the last week, a whirlwind of drama swept through the publishing world as Lani Sarem’s ‘Handbook for Mortals’ was removed from The New York TImes’ best-seller list, and now the author is fighting against these claims. Sarem, an actress, and former music manager saw her book rise on the list quite rapidly, and some questioned how it was so well received. From a lack of reviews initially catching the attention of some to what looked like questionable ordering ended up with an investigation by The New York Times which pulled the book.
According to Sarem, there was no attempt “to [her] knowledge” to scam the book into the top seller’s list. She goes on to say that:
“I’m super frustrated. There has been no official explanation to what happened other than [The New York Times] reported inconsistencies. Nobody talked to us.”
Meeting the controversy head on almost sounds good until we get into the evidence as Sarem goes on to say:
“I’m a first-time author; I did some great numbers. [The Times] put me on the list. The list is curated. They didn’t have to put me on the list despite how many books I sold. When these people made a big issue, they were like, ‘This is too much effort.'”
It all started when another Young Adult author, Phil Stamper, brought it up and started looking into the novel as he had previously never heard of it.
She tried to address Stamper’s response without naming him by saying that just because: “some people in the YA community” would attack her just from not knowing about the release:
“It’s disheartening that someone I don’t know decided to attack me today basically because he had never heard of my book. I’ve never heard of his book either. It’s probably great, but I’ve never heard of it. Does it mean I would question it, if he had some level of success?”
To make the list a book has to sell at least 5,000 copies which seemed unlikely for a novel’s first week of release from an unknown author. It didn’t help that the book was “temporarily out of stock” on Amazon which as we all know is the leader in book sales. This would have meant that it had to be sold from other venues and with this not only is the author’s debut release but the publisher GeekNation’s first book as well since converting over from a pop culture website.
It only got worse when it looked as if the book was being ordered in bulk through stores which reported sales to The New York Times Adding fuel to the fire, the band Blues Traveler stated that she had been fired for “these kind[s] of stunts” doesn’t make things look good for the author. Adding in that Thomas Ian Nicholas (‘American Pie’) who would produce and star in a cinematic version also had reached out to bookstores to purchase copies in bulk. However, he claimed to not get the numbers up but to have them in stock for comic conventions in the fall.
When the Times pulled the novel, they concluded that “the sales for Handbook for Mortals did not meet our criteria for inclusion.” Things just aren’t looking good for Lani Sarem or her novel ‘Handbook for Mortals’ at this point.
Do you think that this was a case of an author trying to game the system? Share your thoughts below!
Source: Entertainment Weekly