Ramble, ramble, ramble

This post is just me putting my thoughts into words.  I’ll be talking about a few things here.  Firstly, I’ll have a few updates regarding what I want to do with TABL, and I also want to share my thoughts about the ethics regarding bookseller lists and publishing due to an incident that happened a few months ago.

Continuing on with the ‘texts I’ve actually read’ reviews, I’m planning to review T.S. Eliot’s individual poems in a series I’ll dub T.S. 1888.  You’ll know it’s an Eliot review because I’ll preface each one with a bad photoshop parody of Taylor Swift’s album (please don’t sue me, Taylor).  Also, I want to write and collect my poems and self-publish my collection.  I’ll probably start off with a small selection and make it a free e-book, and then later I’ll sell the revised edition (including new poems) at maybe 99c.

Now, I know I’m way late to board this train, but I want to talk about Lani Sarem and how she peaked at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Later on, it was revealed (after clever internet sleuthing) that she bought her way to the top.  Typically, Sarem denied this allegation and maintains her innocence.  There are already reviews for her book Handbook for Mortals, and from excerpts that I’ve read, I’m not going to say that Sarem’s writing sucks.  “It needs improvement” is a more encouraging criticism.

However, this is me being a nitpicker and I am slightly bothered that the protagonist is a too-obvious author avatar, as the description of the protagonist matches Sarem to a T, and don’t forget the annoying and all too prevalent i’m-plain-in-appearance-but-for-some-reason-everyone-thinks-i’m-hot trope.

It also came to everyone’s attention that the author aims to have Handbook for Mortals made into a film, wherein Sarem herself intends to portray her protagonist.  Since

  1.  considering that the protagonist (with the exotic name Zade) is an all-too-apparent author stand-in and
  2. there seems to be a plan already in execution to make this movie adaption happen, with Sarem starring as Zade (it has its own IMDB page)

I can’t help but think that the author wants to live out some sort of fantasy or is it just me?


Before I get too bitchy, the reason why I brought up Lani Sarem is because I want to share my insight on the ethics (or lack-thereof) of the whole situation.  Her book has been bashed enough for its writing, characterization, and plot; but even if this book was well written, or even if this fraud was perpetrated by an already successful author such as James Patterson, I’d still share my two cents on the whole issue because buying your way into things is not okay!  So, I know I’m an unpublished, amateur writer but why don’t we see this situation from an unpublished, amateur writer’s point of view and her understanding of it?

Frankly, there is too much evidence that points to the fact that Sarem and her team had cheated the system, despite all her denial.  She isn’t the only person to do this, nor will she be the last.  A list like The New York Times Bestseller List uses a system that can easily be rigged, and that is what some writers had done/aimed to do.  The more copies you sell, the more you will rise to the top, right?  Having a system that uses a tally to how many copies are sold intends to be fair, but it is a system that is easy to manipulate.  Perhaps another system– maybe one based on the average star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads, may be more credible?  Is it even a thing?  Can it be a thing?  To answer the question (that was intended to be rhetorical): no.  There are people that probably can’t be arsed to rate it on GR or Amazon so the true figures would be missing and the data won’t be exactly accurate.

As always, it’s a good accomplishment (and bragging right) to have your book as #1 on the NYT’s bestseller list, and because of this, book buyers will most likely be magnetized to your book with the impression that it must be good because it made it to number 1 on a reputable list.  A lot of #1’s had been adapted for film because they were immensely popular due to the figures.  I suppose that this was all a part of the plan to make the film by having HFM be popular in novel form first.  It appears that our author wants a success story that is very similar to other big-shot authors because more popularity = a possible film adaption and thus more revenue.

Let’s take John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars as an example.  This book was/is insanely popular.  It became a bestseller, won accolades, has many fans (and foes), and yes, it got made into a film.  Love it or hate it, The Fault in Our Stars is a major success.  John Green may have been an already popular YouTuber and used his platform and social media (to his advantage) to garner attention to his books, but in no way did he unethically cheat his way to success the same way that Sarem aimed to do.

On a more personal note, I was always under the impression that whatever occupation you do, you got to work hard to get to the success you desire.  Be it a heart surgeon, basketball player or writer, you have to work from the bottom up like what many of our current successful authors did (let’s just ignore the published YouTubers for a minute).  In regards to being a potential author, yes– I wouldn’t mind my works making it to #1 on any list at all.  I want to write good enough to get to that status, and for people to enjoy my writing.  However, I can’t make them buy my books nor like them, and I can’t damn well buy my way to the top either.  It isn’t fair that Sarem and her entourage did what they did (because it wasn’t entirely all her doing, apparently that guy from American Pie was in on it too and the publishing company).  The ideal reason as to why a book would make it to the top is because it is popular and well-liked by the general public; while I personally don’t like the 50 Shades series at all, many others did and that’s why E.L. James sailed to success.  Likewise, James didn’t place multiple bulk orders to try and bring her works to international acclaim.  It is your own creation and your supporters that put you there, not your money or your cheating ways.

The way I see it is that the whole debacle with Handbook for Mortals is discouraging to both readers and writers.  For readers, this incident just proves how unreliable a list such as NYT’s can be, but on a good note at least their eyes have been opened to corruption and dishonesty within the publishing industry.  For writers, it is because most want success due to the popularity of their works, and to give themselves a pat on the back because their books are well-liked enough by the public; but because of unethical practices, authors  with good intentions may become worried that they’ll be eclipsed by others that use money, status, and corruption to secure their places on a bestseller list.  Regardless, Sarem and her book got attention anyway; negative attention is attention nonetheless.  So I’m on the team that boos Sarem and the people like her.

Authors have an obvious passion for writing in the first place– your first story might suck (I know my early attempts were riddled with plot holes, badly written characters, grammar errors, and too many dei ex machina to count) but just keep practicing!  In my opinion, write if you’re truly in love with the craft.  Don’t do it as a mere fast track to fame or a movie deal, or because it’s the ‘easy’ way to make dough.  It’s the enthusiasm that fuels your creativity.

Tl;dr: don’t be a lying scoundrel!

(am i making any sense?)

Anyway, that’s my rambling done. What are your thoughts on this (old) issue or writing in general?  I’d like to know so feel free to give your two cents.  Since it’s the holiday season, I wish you all a festive December, I hope that you’ll enjoy the rest of the year (and booooyyyy am I looking forward to the 31st, but my liver won’t be).  Toodles!

new siggie again

Leave a Reply