Newsletter 1

How YA Twitter Took Down a Best-Seller Pretender

Keep it up, YA twitter, you’re doing great, sweetie.

If you stepped off twitter for one hot second on Thursday afternoon because you have a job or kids or a nap you super needed to take, you may have missed the EXTRAVAGANT NONSENSE that unfolded its many oniony layers, I can’t even do this without a bullet list.

  • IN THE BEGINNING, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give reigned supreme over the NYT best seller list for 25 weeks, a position it earned through enthusiastic marketing and word-of-mouth and also just being incredibly heartbreaking and timely and well-written and ugh. It’s so good.
  • Out of nowhere, Lani Sarem’s debut novel Handbook for Mortals toppled The Hate U Give from its throne. What even is this book. No one had heard of it. You couldn’t buy it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Press releases came from weirdly non-YA-based sources like The Hollywood Reporter. It’s put out by the only recently launched publishing arm of minor website GeekNation. Sarem is a D-list actress with no prior writing credits. YOU NEED TO SELL 5000 COPIES TO GET ON THE NYT BEST SELLER LIST WHO IS BUYING THE COPIES OF THIS BOOK NO ONE HAS HEARD OF BY THIS LADY NOBODY KNOWS.
    • Turns out it’s these guys:

A number of other sources confirmed that they’d been phoned, asked if they were ‘NYT reporting,’ and then placed with a large order for the novel.

  • According to YA author Phil Stamper, if a B&N order can’t be delivered because OH MAYBE THERE ARE NO COPIES OF THIS NONSENSE BOOK IN STOCK then it can be cancelled, so whoever is calling around ordering books isn’t even shelling out dollars for this scam.
  • Thomas Ian Nicholas from American Pie is supposedly slated to star in the film adaptation.
    • Sarem used to manage his band.
      • She ALSO used to manage Blues Traveler, who called her behavior ‘not surprising’ and said they fired her for this kind of tomfoolery.
        • Book Riot’s own Kelly Jensen (who has been signal boosting a movement to fund inclusive books for classrooms) tweeted about the Blues connection, to be responded to by the band themselves, and some hours LATER the Travelers filled the rest of the funding for a classroom in El Paso because this is a complicated and marvelous tale, with little pockets of goodness.
    • Sarem is also imdb’d to star in the adaptation but her bangs had better be perfect b/c source material.
      • A few excerpts of the book have been making the rounds and it’s like it’s being bad at you. Like, ‘People call me insanely hot? But idk I think I’m just like regular hot or whatever, like my legs are long and toned but I don’t have a THIGH GAP icyww you guys I have flaws, I’m very normal and relatable (except for aforementioned perfect bangs and also I’m not like other girls because I prefer thunder and darkness to like sunshine or whatever).’ I am perhaps paraphrasing, but not like a ton.
        • And yet, people like *NSyncer JC Chasez have been tweeting about it oh wait he’s her cousin.
    • Stephenie Meyer’s name is misspelled on the quotations page, this is not relevant to anything.
    • Also not relevant is the cover, I’m just going to post it and also some art by Gill del Mar you should look at for no reason.

The happy ending of this story is that, due to the combined efforts of several YA authors and vocal twitter denizens, by Thursday evening, the NYT had investigated and pulled Handbook from the list, reinstating Thomas’ masterful work. CONFETTI GIF! MUPPET ARMS! Let’s all drink to YA twitter and its sleuths.

But all of this matters besides being both juicy and bananas. Angie Thomas is a woman of color writing about a young girl of color who witnesses the police executing an innocent young man of color. Publishing has traditionally ignored and rejected women of color as being at least one too many deviations from the standard mean of White Man, so for a book by a WOC about a WOC on a topic specifically germane to people of color to be published in the first place, to receive such bolstering from its advertising campaign, and to deserve such wildfire word-of-mouth and then commercial success is both a triumph and a testament to how INCREDIBLY FUCKING GOOD her book is.

Then along comes this bish, not just a White Woman ™ but the kind of WW to use a phrase like ‘gypsy soul’ to describe herself character, who elbows her way onto the scene. If there’s one thing (there are many things, but here’s a thing) I have learned as a white woman in 2017 (sorry it took me so long), it’s that now is not our time to be shoving people aside so we can talk about our shit, especially when we have fucking nothing to contribute to the conversation. This whole tea party, lollable though it has been to watch, reads like a terrible parable about women of color putting in the work and white women sailing in on the winds of famous cousins and actorpals whose bands we used to manage and loads of privilege.

Good triumphed over evil this one time, but you guys.