We begin this week with Lani Sarem making some bold accusations against Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give.
It started in a Facebook group called Indie Author Support, where Sarem made this post:
For those who can’t read the image:
Okay so here it goes…My name is Lani Sarem. You may have heard of me. I wrote a book called Handbook for Mortals. It premiered #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and then I subsequently became the only person (and the book became the only book) to ever get kicked off the list. Mostly it was due to a lot of people misunderstanding about what actually happened. I was pre-selling the book at comic cons and doing well. I had some help, my friend who is a famous actor is helping turn it into a movie and he was helping promote it at the comic cons. These cons get 40,000-120,000 people each over a weekend and a lot of the people come to meet the celebrities that are there. While meeting with the celebrities they alway ask…So you got anything new coming out? My friend Thomas (he starred in all the American Pie movies and Rookie of the Year) etc would point to our project and we would offer to sell them the book. It actually made it pretty easy to sell the book. I wanted to make my sales count though cause sales that happen outside of a bookstore (and some that happen in a bookstore that doesn’t report) don’t count. It’s hard enough to get sales…they should all count. At least that’s my opinion. Anyway, I got accused of a lot of things that aren’t true and as an indie author really got pushed around cause I didn’t have a big publisher or agent to fight for me. I was wondering in a group like this…Does it frustrate you that your sales don’t count everywhere? The music industry has way to count them no matter where they happen. I’m also happy to answer any other questions you may have as to what happened to me so ask away…Sorry for the long-winded post as well.
As you can see, she continues to beat a horse that died back in August. The story still doesn’t make a lot of sense. Her “famous actor” friend isn’t famous. Booksellers have stated it would be unlikely for established, mega-famous authors like Neil Gaiman or George R.R. Martin to sell twenty-thousand copies at a single convention. She’s still lying, but now the lie is, “Yes, I scammed, but I scammed for justice!” and she’s trying to rally other authors in her defense.
Unfortunately, at least a few people took the bait:
The first comment in this thread, from Jesse James Durdel, sounds like the kind of leading question someone would plant:
For one, most of us here have only heard one side of the story, and it’s not your side at all. Do you suspect someone got jealous and started calling attention to the con sales as a way to besmirch your name in the media?
The key phrase is the “one side of the story” here. I have no proof that JJD knows Lani personally, but I’m a blogger, not a journalist, so I can make whatever wild leaps I’d like, right? I’m going to say that JJD probably is one of Lani’s friends and planted this question to give her the opportunity for this answer:
I can tell you the person that started it was friends with the author and the agent of the book that moved to second on the list and when I was removed the agent took out the two people that started it and toasted about it [winking smiley]
Record scratch. Here we have Lani Sarem accusing Angie Thomas and her agent of deliberately sinking Handbook For Mortals in a fit of jealous panic. After all, doesn’t Angie Thomas, whose book was #1 on the NYT list for most of 2017, has been nominated for multiple awards, was named one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things”, has been adapted for a wildly anticipated film by an acclaimed director, and who has met President Obama, have a reason to feel threatened by Lani Sarem’s successes? I mean, Lani is friends with the guy who jizzed in a beer in American Pie. Who wouldn’t envy that?
Thomas, who until now hasn’t addressed the controversy directly, had this to say in response:
I’ve been silent about this. I laugh about it, honestly. But how dare you even insinuate that me, @byobrooks, or anyone on my team targeted you. YOU messed up. YOU got called out. Own up to YOUR shit.
— Angie Thomas Knows Nothing About the THUG trailer (@angiecthomas) November 27, 2017
I highly recommend the entire thread, because after having been accused of jealousy toward Sarem more than once, Thomas has earned the right to hold Sarem accountable for her words. But Sarem will never allow herself to be held accountable:
I never said your name…what I did say is your agent took the guys that started the twitter hunt and toasted to what happened and posted it on twitter. #handbookforcocktails real nice of him. #checkhistwitterfeed
— Lani Sarem (@RockanRollGypsy) November 27, 2017
Her “I never said your name…” is tantamount to “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” between siblings in the back of their parents’ car.
There was no need to check the Twitter feed, however, as Brooks Sherman is completely uninvested in pretending to give a shit about Lani Sarem:
And so yes, once the entire story came out about how you and your partner tried to fix the list, I *did* take the people who uncovered the story out for a drink to toast their sleuthing skills.
— Brooks Sherman (@byobrooks) November 27, 2017
Having had her ass severely handed to her on Twitter, Sarem stepped out of the conversation. I guess she will never get the chance to tell her side of the story. You know, apart from the op-eds she wrote for Rolling Stone and The Huffington Post. Or the feature Vulture did on her. Or at the many Q and A’s she’s done at conventions and book signings. If only there were some way for this plucky young literary star of tomorrow, who’s been so unfairly maligned by the press, readers and evil, jealous, actually successful authors and their mean-spirited, hard-drinking agents, to tell her side of the story…
The book industry is a mess. I didn’t realize how much until I put out my first novel and officially became the only person to ever get kicked off the New York Times bestseller list. Feel free to read the 769 articles that were written about me in the 9 days after I got kicked off. Not one reporter wrote what really happened, but I’ll tell you in person. I can help you navigate the book industry and the pitfalls and make sure you give making it your best shot.
Lani. Lani, Lani, Lani. The book industry is not a mess. Well, it is a mess, but not because of the way you were treated in the wake of your ham-fisted con falling through. You, my non-friend, are the mess. And now you want people to pay seventy-five bucks to hear “what really happened” and learn how to…what? Scam the list and get caught?
Successful, knowledgeable people should teach others how to do things. You’re not successful or knowledgeable. You’re an unlikeable, unwelcome hack who is only succeeding at slamming doors in your own face. Nobody wants to learn how to do that. If anything, you should be peddling yourself as a cautionary tale.
But of course, there’s always going to be someone in your corner, as evidenced by the last screenshot, where Richard Morgan said:
Dig into the articles and you’ll see there was a whole campaign against her and without anyone having read the damned book.
Well, Dick, I suppose that might be somewhat relevant if the entire “campaign” against her wasn’t based on her actions alone and not the quality of the book, but we agree on one thing: Handbook For Mortals is certainly damned.
On to the recap!