Spending Stephen King's royalty money


Emily Schultz's novel (on the left) and Stephen King's novel.

When Stephen King published a print-only novel named Joyland last year, Canadian novelist Emily Schultz - whose debut novel is also called Joyland - didn't mind. That is, until people started buying the e-book version of her novel, thinking they were getting King's latest, then left negative reviews on Amazon.

As It Happens called up Emily to talk about what happened. You can listen to the conversation below:

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"I don't have Stephen King's stature and getting those one-star reviews really hurt," she told As It Happen's Carol Off. She contacted Amazon and asked them to change their search results so no more customers would make the same purchasing mistake - to no avail. Schultz had to deal with the one-star reviews for her book.

Schultz became a little more forgiving when she received what she called "a - for me - big royalty check" as a result of all those mistaken purchases. She had to double-check with her publisher to make sure the total was accurate. Then she realized what had probably happened. "This happened because he didn't release his Joyland in e-book and mine is in e-book," Schultz said. "If you were in a bookstore, you'd notice immediately that the cover had a different author's name on it. But in e-books, people didn't."

Schultz then started a blog, Spending Stephen King's Money, where she chronicles the purchases she makes: a nice dinner to celebrate, a haircut for her husband, an IKEA run. She also tries to guess how Stephen King would feel about the purchase. For example:

PURCHASE: St. Vincent by St. Vincent

COST: $9.99

WOULD STEPHEN KING LIKE IT: Tough to say. He has an avowed love for rock so surreal cyber funk might be outside of his taste. Then again, there's a darkness to St. Vincent he might like, as well as her cover set of Big Black.

Schultz hopes to keep the blog going for a few months. She won't reveal how large the cheque was, but thinks she will be able to get a lot more content out of it if she reserves the Stephen King money for "the little purchases writers put off." And when the money is all gone, she might reveal how much it is. So stay tuned.

UPDATE: Stephen King has spoken publicly about the mix-up, tweeting the following:

He also talked to Entertainment Weekly, saying that he was delighted for Schultz and was planning to buy her book.