The drama that’s rocking the YA and publishing world today is the YA novel Handbook for Mortals, an out of nowhere book that suddenly debuted atop the NY Times bestseller list. And thanks to some sleuthing by YA authors and bookstore clerks on, detailed on Pajiba,  the book has been removed from the list. It seems a team of operatives working on behalf of the book went around calling bookstores to find which reported to the Times list, and ordered 30 copies or more from each store, effectively gaming the system so it showed up at the top of the list. They’ve also been touting Hollywood interest in the book based on the bestselling status. The sales actually racked up 18,000 copies sold n Bookscan, without any copies of the phjysical book seeming to be in anyone’s hands.

Making the story even more irresistible: author Lani Sarem has a bunch of shadowy showbiz connection herself, including an acting career, managing bands, and a famous relative in cousin JC Chasez formerly of N’Sync, who retweeted praise for the book, a nice family thing to do. And Thomas Ian Nicholas, of American Pie fame, is also closely involved with promoting the book.

And of course there’s a comicsy connection. The book was published by geek website Geeknation, which hasn’t updated since April with a fascinating story about how much they like The Fast and the Furious. But Sarem has been a regular at Wizard Worlds, as this video of her singing “Summer Nights”  at a Wizard World karaoke below shows.

And you’re in even more luck as Sarem will be appearing on a panel about how to “Stand Out and Break In” at TODAY’s Wizard World Chicago. Gee I can’t imagine what they will talk about. IF any Beat spies are near, please report back.

Later Sanem will be in conversation with Nicholas for their own spotlight panel.  Again, audience questiosn should be great!

In a story at Publishers Weekly (that you can’t read right now becuase traffic crashed the server,) Sanem defended the book’s sales, saying she’s been promoting it at Wizard Worlds and other geekish event for a while.

Sarem, contacted by phone, said she has seen some of the backlash online, but believes it’s off base. She said she has been promoting the book, for months now, just not in the places that the New York publishing world is accustomed to looking.

Claiming that she has been championing the title at Wizard World events (which are trade shows focused on comics and other pop culture properties), Sarem said the book landed with a lot of buzz, even if the YA community was not aware of it. And, having worked in Hollywood in various capacities—she has done some acting, and managed various bands, among other things—Sarem also said she has gotten some invaluable plugs for the book on social media. Among others who have tweeted about the title are former N’Sync band member JC Chasez (who is Sarem’s cousin).

The only bad publicity is no publicity, it seems.

  • Friday, Aug. 25, 20171:30 PM – 2:15 PM location: ROOM 1

    Stand Out And Break In: Entertainment Industry Careers

    How do you break into the entertainment industry and become a writer, creator, or developer? If you are interested in authorship, video games, screenwriting, or being a part of the entertainment industry in some form or fashion, don’t miss this panel! Special guest speakers, Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion), Sam Weller (Shadow Show), James Morris (Skybound) and Lani Sarem (Handbook for Mortals) will share their insider experiences and divulge the minute details that unexpectedly led to their professional careers in the entertainment industry. This panel is sure to fill your career “tool-box” with practical tools and advice to springboard you toward landing your dream career.

  • Friday, Aug. 25, 20174:00 PM – 4:45 PM location: ROOM 5

    This One Time At Band Camp: A Converstaion With Thomas Ian Nicholas

    He made a pact with his friends as Kevin Myers in the “American Pie” movies, helped the Cubs win the world series as Henry Rowengartner in “Rookie of the Year, brought the early years of Walt Disney to life in “Walt Before Mickey” and went back in time to save Kate Winslett and Daniel Craig as Calvin Fuller of Reseda in “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.” Come ask your questions about these and find out about what he’s doing next! He might even tell you about American Pie 5!  Bring your thinking cap, there will be some trivia with prizes. Moderated by Lani Sarem.



  1. This is Cowboys & Aliens all over again except for it’s YA books. The YA book community was not having any of it!

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