If the last couple years have seemed to you like something out of an unrealistic novel, then let me throw some new drama your way that will have you saying, “impractical plot twist, please rewrite.” As always, truth is stranger than fiction and #YAtwitter and proved it yesterday with The Great Best Seller Book Scam of 2017.
*Warning: this is LONG and insane. stay with me, or scroll to the bottom for a short recap.*
(For those who aren’t in the know, YA Twitter is the Young Adult Book group on twitter. It’s mostly writers, agents, and publishers. Most days they tweet about books, some days they argue about the lack of representation in YA, and occasionally- like yesterday-real drama occurs. It’s usually more spectator sport for me as I haven’t published YA yet, but I have some Queries out there, and I do review YA books.)
It was a pretty mild morning in our house, the kids didn’t sleep well so I didn’t sleep well and I was perusing twitter before taking a nap. Phil Stamper (@stampepk) had noticed something odd though and his tweets grabbed my attention.
Now, this was a big deal for several reasons:
- I keep pretty good track of what the most popular YA books are, even if I haven’t read them
- I had never heard of this book or author
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has been in the top slot for 24 weeks, and deservedly so. With releases of who will be in the movie coming out, it should stay there for awhile longer.
Surely I didn’t miss something, right?
But I was tired, so I fell asleep and didn’t give it too much thought beyond that.
An hour later, I wake up to find Phil and Jeremy West (@JeremyWest) were on the case. Phone calls were made, emails were sent, and Phil could now say, “my sources say…”
You see, Jeremy figured out that maybe they were buying tons of stock to resell at Wizard World Conventions (spoiler alert: he was right) the big twist to this was, they were only ordering from bookstores that reported their numbers to the NYT. Each order was 30+ copies, and the man on the phone told bookstore employees that he was making a movie based on the book, and that he didn’t care when the books arrived. This was revealed to Phil via anonymous DM. Now tell me, how can you order something for a specific event if you don’t care when the book arrives? Since the bookstores were unable to order the book (that shows as “Out of Stock” for book buyers and seller currently) all orders can still be canceled. Then Jeremy then made a phone call:
And YA Twitter was riveted-
So Jeremy made more calls, and several people brought up the IMDB page for the currently-not-made movie for the book no one has read.
Ok, not no one, because there are some people who thanked her on twitter for signing their book and there are like 3 non-sketchy reviews.
But, pretty close to no one.
Then Carrot Top promoted the book.
No, I’m not kidding. Things got weird. If we move over to Kayleigh Donaldson’s (@Cielidhann) thread we find out this weird fact about Carrot Top, and the fact that the distributor is the same one used by Milo Yiannopoulos during his famous book debacle. Also, JC from *Nsync promoted it because the author is his cousin. The co-founder of Geeknation (the website and publisher) is Clare Kramer of Buffy fame, and theres an article claiming the book has an entirely different author, actor Thomas Iam Nickolas. Basically, the whole thing is bizarre and filled with C list actors from the fringes of Hollywood. This matters because when confronted with the evidence and lack of book promotion, the “author” Lani Sarem said there was “no traditional marketing strategy because I see it as a movie.” and according to IMDB she will be starring in said movie.
When Blues Traveler was asked about her former employment as a manager with them, they said:
THEN there was some pretty substantial talk about the cover art being plagiarized (which we do not take lightly in this industry AT ALL)
“But K.C. this all seems like gossip. Why do we care?”
Because it’s not just twitter gossip and it’s not YA Authors being mean. It’s all about the ability to buy your way to the top of the New York Times. Handbook for Mortals is not the first book to appear there without putting in the work. It’s been famously done several times with adult memoirs but attempting to do it with the YA list (especially with books like The Hate U Give, One of Us it Lying, and The Sun is Also a Star being so closely watched right now) was part of their downfall. This matters because indie bookstores may have to refund the money for those book orders. This matters because the lists are clearly another thing that you don’t have to work hard for. It matters because this makes the list completely null and void. If people are buying their way to the top of the list, how do I know the book is any good? How do I know if it has merit?
“But K.C. maybe the book is AMAZING and deserves to be there?”
I thought about that too, and then I read an excerpt.
I’m sorry but…..
If someone sent me this excerpt and asked me to review their book I would politely decline. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that this would make it to the best seller list organically. She bought and scammed her way there, and thats all there is to it.
All of this was revealed over a series of hours, and no one from YA Twitter got any work done yesterday.
Memes were made
THEN Phil got a reply from the New York Times.
Angie Thomas was returned to the top of the Best Seller List (gaining her the distinction of 25 straight weeks as #1!) And #YATwitter was grateful, and funny as always.
And that is the (shortened version if you can believe it) story of the great Best Seller Book Scam of 2017. It’s not really over of course, the book can still be found on the Indie best seller list and a couple others because it is sheerly a numbers game. The thing is that the scam has been exposed all because a couple people didn’t say, “none of my business,” and I think that is AWESOME.
For those who scrolled to the bottom for a recap, here you go:
Thanks for reading! Guys, there are some really amazing people discussed in this post, and if you could go follow them on twitter and order their books, that would be amazing! Also if you want to read the threads yourself, start HERE