I’m Officially a New York Times Best-Selling Author and I Thank You!
On September 13, 2016 (2 weeks ago), my debut book was officially released to the world. I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual was outchea, and I kicked off 2 weeks straight of me traveling and doing press.
I was proud of what I created, but I had a goal I wanted to hit.
Last Wednesday (September 22), at 5:15pm, I was in my hotel room in Boca Raton. I was at ADCOLOR’s 10th conference, as a speaker and a nominee for an award (the Rockstar Award). The award show was slated to begin at 7pm so I was about to start getting ready, so I could be on the red carpet by 6pm.
I get a phone call from my publicist Mocha Ochoa-Nana and she sounds frantic.
Mocha: LUVVIE, YOU ARE ON THE LIST!!
Me: What list?
Mocha: THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING LIST! YOU’RE NUMBER 5.
Mocha: It just came out. You’re on the list!
Then a call comes in and it says “Henry Holt.” It’s my editor, Barbara Jones. I tell Mocha I’ll call her back.
Barbara: Luvvie, this is a really cool phone call to make. HI NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. You are #5 on the list. Congratulations. This is huge!
This is when I really HEARD it. And I freaked the hell out. Poor Barbara’s eardrums. I started squealing and basically spent five minutes on the phone yelling as Barbara chuckled. I lost all my cool, just saying WHATTT? over and over again. Then she says “I have to go now. We need to add this to your book cover.” YES, YOU DO.
It happened. It really happened!
I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual is an instant best-seller! In fact, my book was on the NYTimes list in 3 categories: Paperback Nonfiction (#5), eBook Nonfiction (#11), Combined eBook and Print nonfiction (#19).
I had done what even I wasn’t really sure I could do. It was bigger than a goal; it was a dream. And it came true. My book dropped on September 13, and the next week it was on the most respected list in publishing, at a very respectable number, bumping out such juggernauts like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers from the top 10.
My goodness. I was stunned, y’all. WHEN I TELL YOU MY GOD IS GOOD?!? Yes, He is.
My agent, Michael Harriot, called me to say “You should be incredibly proud. You are on the list with books that have been out for years. And in a very tough category. You should celebrate.”
And I did. That night, I also ended up winning the ADCOLOR Rockstar Award, in a room full of 400 of the most powerful advertising executives. It was a truly awesome day.
But here I am. Young, Black, woman, blogger. I made it to the NYTimes best-selling list. I’ve worked so hard for this. I have dreamt about this. For it to happen, though? It feels like I’m watching a movie of someone else’s life. A really cool movie! Especially after the whirlwind week I had after my launch, going from city to city and doing hella press.
As I was breezing through airports across 4 cities, I went into so many bookstores but none of them had my book on their shelves. I’m a new author, and basically a nobody in the publishing world. Stores have limited shelf space, so they probably passed on stocking my book. At one point, I got slightly discouraged like “well damb. Why isn’t my book in the number?”
Then this happens. You know what this means for me? Being a best-selling author? It’s not just bragging rights.
My book landing on the best-selling list means:
- Someone else who is young, Black, woman, blogger, can walk into a publishing house and be able to say their book could sell because mine did.
- I wrote something good. I created something worth buying and sharing and amplifying and cheering on.
- Bookstores who didn’t wanna stock my book now have more proof that the book will sell on their shelves. This is my receipts.
- I can prove that my social and online influence translates to real life action.
That brings me to this point. I need to thank so many people for making this happen. And in this process, if I leave you out, please blame it on my head not my heart.
First of all, I gotta thank my publisher, Henry Holt (Macmillan). Because in an industry that doesn’t give enough people who look like me a chance, they invested in this book. And throughout the process, they trusted my voice and allowed me to create something that was true to me and true to who y’all know me to be. The team over there deserves props because from the time I signed my deal to now, they’ve allowed me to truly be who I am, and it allowed me to create the best book. My editors (hey Allison, Sarah, Barbara), marketing team (shoutout to Maggie and Jason), publicist (hey Alison! You rock!). THANK YOU for championing this book, and putting the resources you have behind it. Team work has made this dream work.
Thank you to my other publicist, Mocha. She is the Book Whisperer, y’all. She’s the person I’m texting at 2am with plans and she makes them happen. “I’ve booked you the MLK Library in DC and 600 people bought tickets in 3 days.” I mean! Wow.
Thank you to people who have put their weights behind this book, vouching for it, putting their thumbs up on it. Folks like: Shonda Rhimes, Jenny Lawson, Angela Nissel, Issa Rae, Mallory Ortberg. Your approval is clutch!
And then, I MUST MUST MUST thank all of you. You call yourselves LuvvNation, and the emphasis is on the LOVE part. Not only are you the most thoughtful, smart, NO BEHAVIOR-having, hilarious community on these interwebs, you are also the most supportive people. You have been spreading the JUDGEY gospel so hard that anyone who doesn’t know about my book is living under a rock. You turned entire timelines judgey, and folks could not avoid it.
You pre-ordered this book in droves, and some of you even got multiple copies. You told your friends you weren’t gonna be cool with them if they didn’t buy my book (shoutout to threats that work). YOU are the reason I made it on this list. You showed up and showed out for this book and I am so grateful for you. Special props to the Judgey Squad. You KNOW who you are. You know how you’ve stood by this book. I am beyond words for how much I appreciate you.
I bring LuvvNation with me everywhere I go. I shout y’all out on my interviews. I tell brands I need to make sure that I do right by y’all when I work with them. It’s because I don’t take any of this for granted. I have been able to tell people I am a person of influence because I have this amazing audience.
And y’all have banded together to make my dream come true. You were determined that I succeed, and in turn, you are making it easier for someone else like me to soar.This book COULD NOT fail because my fail could make it harder for someone else to get the opportunity. From my heart to yours, thank you!
This is huge. This is huge, y’all.
The first line of my official bio now reads: “Luvvie Ajayi is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism.”
Now, I need your help staying on the List. How can you help?
- If you haven’t yet, order I’M JUDGING YOU. This book is good, y’all. It comes in print, eBook, and audiobook (I read it myself).
- Tell your friends to get this book.
- Leave reviews on Amazon, iBooks, GoodReads, Barnes & Nobles
- Post about it on social media, using the hashtag #ImJudgingYou, and tag me @Luvvie.
- Make it your Book Club read
- Feature it on your blog or in your publication
- Tell your local library to stock it
Let’s keep the party going, beautiful people!
Mama, I made it. 😭