Self-Destructive Writerly Sins

Don’t be this Book

I’ve written before about the self-destructive urges writers get. Plagiarism needs to be near the top of the list.  Penning sexist rants about your greatness to an agent is another. And, of course, there’s always the venerable Internet meltdown.

Now we have another example of something authors really shouldn’t do to boost their career: Try to game the NY Times Bestseller list.

Last week, Handbook For Mortals by Lani Sarem, knocked Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give off the No. 1 spot of the Times‘ YA bestseller list.  Now this may happen occasionally with a debut novel, but usually that means the fans have heard some advance buzz about the book.  This one, nada.  Another red flag? Brand new publisher.  Final red flag?  To quote Phil Stamper on Twitter:

This is what I’m referencing. A book that’s out of stock on Amazon and is not currently in any physical B&N in the tri-state area.

Suspicious to say the least.  Then you have the weird fact that the author is listed as playing the lead in an “in development” movie of the book. WTF?  It gets better:

It turns out the author worked as a band manager before she decided to write YA books. One of the bands she managed? Blues Traveler. Yep.

The band tweeted about the author on its official Twitter account: “yes, this is weird but not surprising…We fired her for these kind of stunts. Her sense of denial is staggering!”

So apparently this scam involved a lot of strategic bulk buys of a book that barely existed in order to promote a movie. And, unsurprisingly, when real people finally got their hands on a copy, the writing was really, really bad.

Also, unsurprisingly, the NYT pulled it from its list.

Probably Lani Sarem though having a “NYT Bestseller” attached to her film project would generate some financing. Maybe it would have. But she went about it in such a stupid, sleazy way she probably killed her own project with this spectacular and well-deserved failure.

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