The Handbook for….cheaters?

Over the last two weeks an author’s debut book rose to glory, atop the New York Times Bestseller list, only to crumble. Lani Sarem’s book, Handbook for Mortals, was announced last month. When it suddenly shot to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, surpassing Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give,” which sat at #1 on the YA Bestseller list for the past 25+ weeks, readers took it upon themselves to investigate. Book publisher and amateur sleuth, Phil Stamper, was among those getting to the bottom of the disruption. He took to twitter with his queries and findings, eventually aiding in the Times decision to pull the book from the list.


Controversially, Sarem and her team have spoken out against the allegations. Here is what we know: bookstores were contacted and asked whether or not they reported sales to The New York Times, and when they responded ‘yes,’ bulk orders were placed for Handbook for Mortals. The sales ended up coming in at over 18,000 copies sold (note: it only takes around 5,000 copies sold to land on the list), though, somehow, copies of the books were unobtainable through all major retailers. Sarem’s team has reported that they did purchase bulk orders of the books for upcoming conventions they were attending, though they deny targeting NYT reporting stores. They reject the allegations being put forth, and feel wronged for being removed from the NYT list.


The reviews for the book have grown since the scandal, and it’s not looking good for the author or the publisher – GeekNation.  Readers are tanking the reviews, and citing the scandal as reason for doing so. Additionally, the cover art is remarkably similar to an art print by Gil Del Mace, so they are being accused of ripping that off as well. The reasoning behind the scandal is rumored to be the author’s interest in a film adaptation. Whether or not this book and future movie will grow wings- Sarem’s team is trucking on.


They say all press is good press, and we know Lani Sarem is probably chanting that as her mantra right now.


Originally published on

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