Canadian writer Emily Schultz published her first novel, “Joyland,” in 2006 on ECW, a small press based in Toronto. A coming-of-age tale set in a video-game arcade, "Joyland" did not make bestseller lists or sell in large quantities. So Schultz was rather surprised when her publisher reported a surprising recent sales bump.
And it was all thanks to Stephen King.
King published his own novel called “Joyland” back in June. And his novel, which takes place in an amusement park, is not available as an e-book, so Amazon customers eager to download King's “Joyland” may have mistakenly assumed Schultz's ebook is what they are after.
Schultz, who lives in Brooklyn, said by phone Thursday that ECW reported a sales bump of about 200 books in the week King's novel was released -- and the Amazon reviews tell a similar story of mistaken identity.
Despite the fact she has “always loved Stephen King novels,” Amazon user Marcia feels differently about “Joyland.” In a customer review posted for Schultz's book, she said the novel “was a rambling stream of consciousness mess... [and] for a person who reads several books a week, it was annoying to say the least.” The problem is, Marcia wasn't reviewing a Stephen King novel at all.
“If you buy a book and it's not what you thought you ordered,” Schultz said, considering the handful of negative reviews “Joyland” has received from confused readers, “you're going to approach it in a different way.”
Schultz is taking it all in stride, but the extra sales don't necessarily make up for the bad reviews. “If Stephen King gets five bad reviews from people who thought they were getting my book, it wouldn't affect him at all,” she says. “But my book, my first novel and on a small press, those five bad reviews might affect it a lot.”
After the book promotion tour for “Joyland” ended, Schultz used the domain name to host an online literary magazine, also called Joyland. The website (for which, in the interest of full disclosure, I will mention I was until recently an editor) hasn't received the same King bump as Schultz’s novel. Brian Joseph Davis, Schultz's husband and co-publisher, reports that based on the metrics, they only received 10 visits from users searching for King's “Joyland” in the last month.
Schultz's new novel, “The Blondes,” will be published in the U.S. by St. Martin's Press in the fall of 2014. It is too soon to say when, or if, Stephen King will also be publishing a book called “The Blondes.”