So earlier today I finished A Face in the Crowd, the new ebook collaboration between Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan, and scrolled through the rest of the ebook (the second half are excerpts from The Talisman and Black House) until I came to the very end and found the "Before you go" page, which encourages readers to leave a review or share their thoughts on Twitter, and also recommends books which other readers purchased after reading this particular title. Here's what I saw:
Now, the first title there, Tit for Tat by Steven King, is currently ranked 1,446 in the US Kindle store, which means it's selling pretty well. Plus, despite the fact Amazon estimates the page count to be 73 pages, it's priced at $3.99, so you have to figure it's bringing its author over $2.50 for every unit sold.
Why do I say its author?
Well, because this King is not the King, which is reiterated by the seven (current) one-star reviews for the book. Each review exclaims how awful the book is, and how (and this is the important part) THIS IS NOT THE REAL STEPHEN KING!!!
And yet ... people keep buying the book.
They even seem to be purchasing Steven King's other Kindle title, Davey's Brain Drain (seriously, I'm not making that title up), which is currently ranked at 9,190 in the US Kindle store and has two one-star reviews. Oh, and it, too, is priced at $3.99, despite being even shorter than Tit for Tat, coming in at 28 estimated pages despite the subtitle on the cover "A Novel."
Now is it possible that someone named Steven King is also a writer of horror? Sure. But quite honestly, I don't think that's the case here, despite what it says on Steven King's author page:
Steven is 29 living his dream of being a writer in his downtown Toronto loft. Forever being confused with the famous Stephen King, he never pretends to be him, but can only aspire to do the name justice, and hopes on day to shake his mentors hand. While Steven looks for his life partner, he continues to write in his favorite style, horror/thriller. He considers Tit For Tat his crowning achievement, taking 1 year to write it and hopes one day it will become a major motion picture. He is fortunate to write for three different publishing companies, his novels reaching over 100. Graduating from the University of Toronto, he continues to take night classes to keep fresh, and reads anything he can get his hands on. His hope is to spend the rest of the life writing, next to a woman who will spend the rest of her life reading.
I could be wrong, of course, but I think this is one of those instances where some douche is trying to take advantage of a household name (while, at the same time, aspiring to "do the name justice"). And, I don't want to be a complete dick, as I understand every writer is different and works at different paces, but Tit for Tat took a year to write and is only 73 pages? That's, like, 30,000 words, if that, which works out to be 82 words a day. Also, check out how the book is categorized (!!!):
I actually became aware of Steven King weeks ago, and sort of shrugged him off. But when I came to that "Before you go" page on the Kindle, it really made me think.
Do readers seriously just buy whatever Amazon (or any place else) recommends them to buy? I'm not complaining, of course, as I'm sure most of my sales on Amazon come from the fact Amazon is recommending my stuff, but don't readers at least check out the product description and customer reviews before purchasing? Or, even better, download a sample? It's clear many people are staying away from this Steven King, but it's also clear based on those sales rankings many people aren't.
Now, I can see many readers accidentally downloading it because they honestly believe it's really Stephen King. I've seen many people refer to Stephen King as Steven King. Hell, I've even seen a blurb given by very well-known author, in which that well-known author stated that the writer in question reminded him of a young Steven King. And this, my friends, was on a website run by a major publisher. Unfortunately, they eventually noticed the mistake and had it fixed, but still, the confusion does happen.
Anyway, getting back to our friend Steven King, he even has a follow-up to Davey's Brain Drain, cleverly titled Davey's Brain Drain 2: The Sequel (seriously, people, you can't make this shit up). That one is estimated at 22 pages and is priced at $2.99. There is also another title called Amulet of the Queen: Erotic Horror (erotic horror!!!), estimated at 47 pages and priced at $3.99.
Sooooo, my fellow authors busting your asses to produce quality work and gain a readership in a tough and unforgiving marketplace, what's new with you?