Every form of media and entertainment has it. That something that means you’ve truly made it in your field. Acting has the Academy Award, music has the Grammy, and for writers there is no spot more coveted than the top of the New York Times best seller list.
But to get there takes a lot more than just a good story. It takes dedication, skill, talent, a pinch of luck; but then strong marketing, word of mouth, buzz, and the desire for the book even before it is launched. It is no longer about a story that is solid, but the build up before the release. People need to want the book, desire it passionately, talk about it and discuss it, even before it is in their grabby hands. People will know of your book even before they see it on the shelf, and that is a big part of the publishing world.
Tack on the sales requirement of about 5,000 units to make the list, give or take, it is not the easiest of tasks to reach. Then, of course, you need to sell said 5,000 from NYT reporting booksellers, which not all stores are. Certain shops report their sales to the list to count towards spots, therefore if you sell many from one shop who does not report, and only a few from one who does, it will in turn affect your rank.
But that is how it is usually done. The typical way, the authentic way.
Then, there is the way Lani Sarem and the team at geeknation.com apparently did it, which is allegedly to bulk buy the book from only reporting stores, to skyrocket the title to the top of the NYT list. Handbook for Mortals was found to be at the top of the list, out of nowhere, and with no knowledge of its presence within the YA world. August 24, found many within the young adult writing community baffled and confused to find 25 week chart topper The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas knocked from the throne but a title no one had even heard of.
This got many setting their manuscripts aside and doing a little good old fashioned detective work, with YA author Phil Stamper at the helm. By the end of the day, countless reports came in from book sellers saying an ‘unidentified’ purchaser called, requesting hundreds of copies of this book. They did not care about delivery, and prior to placing the order, asked if the shop was a NYT reporting store.
The more that came to light, the more within the YA writing community took to social media, discussing the issue, its impact, and what was to be done. the New York Times pulled the title from the list, releasing a statement August 25.
“After investigating the inconsistencies in the most recent reporting cycle, we decided that the sales for ‘Handbook for Mortals’ did not meet our criteria for inclusion. We’ve issued an updated ‘Young Adult Hardcover’ list for September 3, 2017, which does not include that title.” – New York Times Communications Director, Joran Cohen
To go one step further, the NYT reached out to Angie Thomas on Twitter, congratulating and confirming that she was, yet again, number 1 on the YA list.
The discussion around the strange event hasn’t died down within the social media writing world just yet, with many still shocked over how quickly it all came about. But, if there is a silver lining to this peculiar story, it is the strength of the YA writing community. It shows that it is one of comraderie and determination, and that is always prepared to stand up for what is right.
Congrats Angie, on another well deserved, and exciting, week at #1!