As a self-published author, I've been following the story of Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem with great interest, but have a different take than others have. If you haven't heard about it, you can read the full story in all its shocking detail at Punjaba, but the short version is that a new novel called Handbook for Mortals shot to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List in its first week. When people on Twitter started looking into it, they discovered several bookstores were called to place bulk orders, and great effort was made to make sure the bookstores reported to the NYT List. In other words, someone (at this point, clearly the publisher) just bought thousands of books to try to make the list. There's apparently also an attempt to post fake reviews on Goodreads and an alleged movie deal on IMDB with the author starring in the first film (yes, Lani Sarem, the author). Even the cover seems to be a rip-off of artwork by an Australian author named Gill del Mace who was not happy to see it.
Seriously, read the article. It's crazy, and it's a complete crapstorm that is still ongoing as I type this. It seems like the only reason this book exists in the first place is the author originally wrote it as a screenplay and is trying to get a movie made on the condition that it's based off a "best-selling" novel. Wait'll you get to the part about the connection to Blues Traveler.
This isn't the first time it's happened and it won't be the last, but I'm always reminded of the sanctimonious tone traditional authors like to have when looking down their noses at self-published authors. Yeah, some indie books are crap and some self-published authors do some pretty rotten things to try to be a success. But traditional publishers aren't exactly paragons of virtue, either.
Oh, and in case you're wondering if the book itself is actually any good, it's not. Here's an excerpt courtesy of HuffPo where the main character Zade describes herself, that classic narrative device everyone hates:
I’m slender, but I do not believe most would say skinny. Not ‘hot-girl skinny,’ at least. I have long legs that are toned but I think my thighs are too large and I do not have a thigh gap. My arms are kind of flabby and while I do have an hourglass figure I have always felt my butt is a little too big and my face is a bit too round.There's also a bit about "the chunky pieces on the lower half of my long hair, which I had dyed to be a multitude of fun colors" which (by a shocking coincidence) perfectly describes the author herself. If you still think people are piling on, check out the sample and reviews (legitimate reviews) on Amazon.
Yeah, this just keeps getting better and better. Keep bringing such quality material to bookstores everywhere.
Related: 6 Reasons Why Indie Authors Are NOT Destroying Literature
UPDATE: Just wanted to add, whenever this sort of thing happens, I wonder what would have happened if a group of dedicated sleuths on Twitter hadn't decided to investigate. How many times have authors gotten away with all of this and went on to success?
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