Publishing is a tough industry. Building an audience can be hard, competition is tight, profit margins even tighter, and most authors have annual wages below the poverty line. Making your way to the still-coveted New York Times best-seller list remains one of the biggest markers of success as well as a reliable way to sell more books. If everyone else is buying the book, surely you have to too, right? Nowadays, you can make the bestseller list with about 5,000 sales. That’s not the heights of publishing’s heyday but it’s still harder to get than you’d think. Some publishers spend thousands of dollars on advertising and blogger outreach to get that number. Everyone’s looking for the next big thing and that costs a lot of cash. For the past 25 weeks, that big book in the YA world has been The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a searing politically charged drama about a young black girl who sees a police officer kill her friend, and the fallout it causes in her community. Through publisher buzz and exceedingly strong word of mouth, the novel has stormed to the forefront of the YA world and found thousands of fans, with a film on the way. Knocking that from the top of the NYT YA list would be a major deal, and this week it’s going to happen. But something’s not right.
A well reported (and onging) article about an author seriously gaming the publishing system.