Back in June, we put up one of the first reviews of Janet Reitman’s terrific book, Inside Scientology. We were also first to interview her about it, and the first to report from her initial public appearances.
Were we enthusiastic? Look, we just couldn’t get enough of Janet and her impact on Scientology watching. So sue us.
But now that it’s been a while, we checked back in with the Brooklyn resident to see how the big publicity push has been going. Janet gave us some juicy quotes about how her book has been received, how well it’s selling, and why the hell we haven’t seen more of her on television promoting the best damn history of Scientology ever written.
After the jump, her thoughts on all that, as well as a giant collection of the things that have been written about her and her book since we did our best, in our own humble way, to launch her into orbit around Teegeeack.
Janet, how has the publicity tour been for you?
Really exhausting, but also fun.
And how is the book doing, sales-wise?
Extremely well! It made it on the New York Times bestseller list, and has been on the Times‘ ebook nonfiction bestseller list for six weeks; it’s also #16 on the L.A. Times nonfiction hardcover bestseller list, its fifth week on the list. The book only came out six weeks ago, so that’s pretty amazing. It’s selling well in hardcover, but I gather it’s done particularly well in Kindle and other ebook sales.
If the print reviews have been pretty positive, what has been your experience with radio and TV? It seems like you’ve done a lot of radio, but any big network TV appearances? Are TV networks still too chickenshit to do this stuff?
The print reviews have been really positive — I think the book received two mediocre reviews to dozens of wonderful ones, honestly. The big TV appearances have been slow, which is frustrating, but I think a lot of it has had to do with the unbelievable news we’ve had this summer — the economy and the debt ceiling was 24/7 for weeks, it seemed. And now it’s Libya and the Republican primaries. I was scheduled to appear on the Today Show the day after the Casey Anthony verdict, so you know that was cancelled. It’s just been very frustrating. I do believe that in Tampa, at a local station where I did a TV appearance, that segment was cancelled because of fear. But in terms of network or national cable news coverage, I think some of it has been simply timing. That said, get with it, guys! And especially Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert!
Now, let’s take a look at the kinds of accolades the book has been receiving…
“The most complete picture of Scientology so far.” -Garry Wills, New York Times Book Review — where the book was an Editor’s Choice
“[A] meticulously researched history and revealing exposé, a frightening portrait of a religion that many find not just controversial, but dangerous…Throughout the book, the author displays consummate journalistic skills. Her accumulation of evidence is particularly impressive and gives rise to one of the more memorable works of investigative nonfiction in recent years.” — Boston Globe
“Inside Scientology is a masterful piece of reporting….a compelling introduction to ‘America’s most secretive religion,’ as the subtitle has it. Even for those who have no interest in parsing when cults become religions or why faith upends fact, Reitman tells a spellbinding story of a larger-than-life personality whose quirks, ticks and charisma shaped America’s newest homegrown religious movement.” —
“This book is fearless” — Wall Street Journal
“Inside Scientology leaves no scandal unturned in the life of L. Ron Hubbard, underlings, celebrities and cult ‘slaves’ in this story of America’s most secretive religion….It is a riveting read not only for its thorough research, and winning style, but because [Reitman] has left no greed undescribed in the 396 page-turner.” — Seattle Post Intelligencer
“Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman is an amazing book…a masterful telling of the church’s history and the division among its members” — Asbury Park Press
“Thoroughly engrossing page-turner on the shape-shifting Church of Scientology…A bizarre and complicated history told with masterful control.” — Kirkus Reviews starred review
Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2011: “Inside Scientology is journalist Janet Reitman’s incredible book-length follow-up to the Rolling Stone cover story of the same name, a 2007 finalist for the National Magazine Award. …’America’s Most Secretive Religion’ is perhaps best known for high-profile adherents like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but its tenets, processes, and internal organization form a story as surprising and captivating as that of any investigative work released this year. Reitman’s extensive research — including hundreds of interviews with devotees and defectors alike — culminates in an expansive, page-turning survey of the origins, development, crises, beliefs, and scandals of this fascinating incorporated religion, all with a fair-minded approach that favors diligent curiosity over judgment at every turn. “It has been my goal to write the first objective modern history of the Church of Scientology,” Reitman writes in the book’s introduction, and to this end, Inside Scientology succeeds in spades. This book will remain the definitive study of the subject for a long time to come. — Jason Kirk
“Reitman’s analysis of Scientology’s ability to survive scandal and mockery is compelling and persuasive.” — Seattle Times
And more reviews and interviews at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Los Angeles Times, Time, the San Francisco Chronicle, Slate.com, the Tampa Tribune, Creative Loafing Tampa, the Jewish Journal, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Oregonian, The Forward, TheWrap.com, Reuters, The Revealer, and The Star-Tribune.
Whew. That’s a lot of ink for Janet’s book. You’d think maybe this silly stuff about J-Lo, Kelly Preston, and now the Smiths might get her a spot on television to talk about celebrities and Scientology. Just a suggestion.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord
See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated — The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation — Investigating a reporter’s divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation — An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology’s past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh — A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology — A masterful telling of Scientology’s history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? — Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology’s Enemies List — Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology — An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam — Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists — How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller’s Wild Ride — Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration — A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology’s Retaliation is “Scary and Pathetic”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy
The Paulien Lombard Confession — A Scientology Spy Comes Clean
The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell — Scientology wants your 401K
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology — the whole series!
The Squirrel Busters Busted — Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge