March 17, 2016
What have YOUR Twitter followers done for you lately?
by Julia Fleischaker
Five months ago, Shea Serrano made waves in the publishing world when his book, The Rap Yearbook, became a New York Times bestseller. In a story for Wired, “How One Man and His Twitter Army Stormed the Bestseller List,” Charley Locke described Serrano’s sales method, which included giveaways to his Twitter followers in exchange for book orders, as “36 packs of Yo! MTV Raps Cards and a perfect storm of tweets.”
Now Serrano is mobilizing his Twitter army again, but this time for someone else’s book, Jonathan Abrams‘ Boys Among Men.
In a story for Marketplace, Donna Tam spoke to Abrams:
Jonathan Abrams, a lauded sports journalist and a newly-minted book author, was at a Barnes and Nobles when it happened to him. “It” being the sheer force that is Shea Serrano’s rabid Twitter army of fanboys. Serrano, a former colleague of Abrams’, told his 66,000-plus followers to preorder Abrams’ basketball book, “Boys Among Men.” So, they did.
“My phone started blowing up,” Abrams said. “I started texting with Shea. I told him, ‘Shea, I’m getting all these people sending RTs and commenting. What do I do?’ Shea was like, ‘Do nothing. I got this.’”
Abrams thought Serrano was helping him out with a little bump for day. But Serrano was just getting started.
Following that initial push, Serrano spent the next ten days “tweeting, offering giveaways, and vowing to #MakeAbramsCry by getting him on the coveted New York Times’ best-sellers list.”
i think i’m more nervous about the abrams book release than i was my own — after we get him on the NYTBSL i’ma for real maybe cry
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) March 14, 2016
Without vouching for the quality of the book (he hasn’t read it!), Serrano’s fans have been buying books—for themselves, for friends and family, and “specifically for Serrano to give out randomly to his other followers, a practice that Serrano and his followers started calling ‘ultralight beaming.'”
“It’s not even anything that I asked him to do,” Abrams said. “Which is so incredibly good of him and, honestly, he hasn’t seen the freakin’ book yet.”
Serrano is matter of fact when asked about why he’s helping Abrams, who he’s only met a couple of times: “I know what kind of writer he is, and he’s solid. I’m sure the book is solid. I want to make sure it get as much attention as it deserves.”
Abrams guesses that he sells 50-75 books every time Sherrano makes a push. Of course, we can’t all have a Serrano of our own, and, word to the wise, you probably shouldn’t try this at home.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.