Handbook for Mortals: Can This Awful Book be Made Good?

This book is made of poo. Can it be made good? Challenge accepted!

Lani Sarem gamed the NYT Bestseller list with her book 'Handbook for Mortals'. That's old news now. If you want details of the sitch, click here. Basically, she and her team placed bulk orders at NYT reporting book stores to make it look like her sales were blowing up. This put 'Handbook for Mortals' at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. This was hot news for a hot minute and drew the ire of the YA community.

Maybe all could have been forgiven if the book itself was good. However, we've been fermenting in a stew of schadenfreude at the awfulness of the book itself. It makes it easy to not like Lani when she has put out a shamefully bad piece of crap. Everyone has to start somewhere, sure. I wouldn't dare bust someone on their road to author-dom. It's a noble pursuit and it's not easy. But Lani seems to be living in the delusion that she has written great fiction, or that it doesn't matter that it's horrible as long as it sells.

I think it could be a good book. Maybe I'm a hopeless optimistic (with a flavoring of cynic and nihilism). I'm going to rip to shreds the two sample chapters (I can't bring myself to spend $9.99 for this book), then I'm going to build them back up by removing the superfluous details and focusing on the action. For now I'll leave you with snippets of reviews for this book:

"I am an author and I work in publishing...this is the by far the worst piece of fiction I have ever read. There is no plot, there is no character arc for the main character, no world building or rules for magic. All there is, is a badly executed love triangle, a Mary Sue for an MC and every beginner writing mistake in existence. This book would make a perfect text for what not to do in fiction writing."

"...this book is nearly unintelligible with basic grammar errors and with cliches

, that are generally limited to new writers in the realm of fanfiction."

"It's amateur and sloppy. Sarem takes a Bizzaro World approach to "Show, don't tell" by doing the exact opposite, painstakingly explaining every joke and reference. Her self-insert Zade and her love interests have every detail of their outfits describe in doorstopping paragraphs..."

"You have to endure seven paragraphs of navel-gazing from a protagonist who desperately wants you to know how pretty and interesting she is without directly saying so, before anything comes even remotely close to happening."

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