Gaming the system

You understand I’m not totally up-to-date with the news. What I’m going to cover actually took place earlier this year. Gaming the system is not new, it’s happened in many different industries. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Years ago I heard The Bee Gees did this same thing to get a very early record into the charts. The difference between The Bee Gees and the author I’m talking about today is that the musicians had actual talent behind them. From what I’ve read about the book the author needs to do a lot of work in order to produce a sellable book.

What rubbish am I spouting?

An actor wrote a book, in an attempt to get a movie deal she gamed the system to get this book into the New York Times Bestseller Lists. As it turns out making this list is fairly easy to achieve so long as you’re prepared to put a lot of work into making many, many small purchases of your own book over a period of time. You only need 5,000 sales, but they can’t be too big or they’ll attract notice. What this author and her team did is to make the purchases far too large and over a week. Noticed by a guy on Twitter who tweeted about it, picked up by Pajiba and after a while the book was removed from the NYT Besteller number one position (replaced by The Hate U Give). In other words, they were sprung. The article by Pajiba is well worth reading. There’s no way I could repeat all that research.

The book

Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem. I do hope she sits down and actually learns more about writing. I’d like to see her succeed having actually written a good book.

If you want to know more about the writing without actually reading it you can head to Jenny Trout, she’s always entertaining. This time Trout shows excerpts from the book and talks about why the writing is so bad. It seems the author does many things that don’t make a good book. She tells us what’s happening, we don’t appear to see much by showing. There seems to be a lot of information in the book that doesn’t make any difference to the story or the characterisation. I’ll ignore the description of the narrator and the author, they seem to be very, very close.

Don’t look at the foreword. It’s by a lady who is supposedly an international bestseller. It’s ‘interesting’ to say the least. From someone who is meant to be a successful author in her own right I found the excerpts in Jenny Trout’s blog to be rather poor writing.

And all of that is without mentioning how the cover is a total rip off of someone’s fabulous artwork. The original artist didn’t even get a credit, let alone any royalties possibly owed to them.

Other bits

Amazon reviews. If you look up the book on Amazon you can see it’s had 104 reviews with 1.9 out of five stars. Some of the reviews are so poorly worded as to have been written by someone who hasn’t actually read the book and for whom English is not their first language. Others have so little detail they could have been written about many books. One review I read talked about the grammar problems not being picked up by the editor so not the author’s fault. Someone takes them to task on that. The author is the final arbiter of any suggestions the editor makes, if they ignore suggestions then it’s on their heads.

The book made the bestseller lists without being in stock anywhere. Amazon and Barnes & Noble had the book out of stock at the time it made it into the lists. I’m guessing the book hadn’t actually been printed at that time and made it into the lists just on orders alone.

Now I know how to do I’m guessing I won’t be gaming the system. It’s too easy to become notorious and then things become hard. This is the internet and things don’t go away too easily on the internet.