Messages From Stephen

 

8:49am October 28th, 2009:

Dear Constant Readers,

Please don't believe the press reports that the e-book reader price for Under the Dome will be $35. This was the result of confusion from a press release from the publisher, what Big Jim Rennie would call a clustermug. It is true that you cannot order the book as an e-download until December 24th, but the physical book, which is a beautiful thing, you can pre-order for less than $9--so who's better than us?

Steve

 

9:29am September 15th, 2009:

Dear SKMBers,

    As most of you know, I have a novel coming out in November called Under the Dome.  My first effort to write it came in 1978, or thereabouts.  That seventy-page manuscript (actually titled Under the Dome) was lost, but after reviewing the stuff I said about it in Douglas Winter’s book, The Art of Darkness (1989), I got thinking about my second effort to write that story, which, as you will find out, deals with people trapped in an increasingly lethal environment. 

    That second try was mostly written in Pittsburgh, during the filming of Creepshow. I spent two months in a depressing suburban apartment complex that became (with the usual fictional tweaks) the setting for the story. It was called The Cannibals, and this time I got a lot further—almost five hundred pages—before hitting a wall. I assumed the manuscript was lost.  Long story short, it turned up—battered, and with some pages missing, but mostly complete—in the summer of 2009.   So, for your amusement, and as an appetizer to Under the Dome, here are the first sixty pages or so of The Cannibals, reproduced, warts and all, from the original manuscript which was dredged up by Ms. Mod from a locked cabinet in a back room of my office.  I’m amused by the antique quality of the typescript; this may have been the last thing I did on my old IBM Selectric before moving on to a computer system.

    There’s another reason for publishing this on the website. Several Internet writers have speculated on a perceived similarity between Under the Dome and The Simpsons Movie, where, according to Wikipedia, Homer’s town of Springfield is isolated inside a large glass dome (probably because of that pesky nuclear power plant). I can’t speak personally to this, because I have never seen the movie, and the similarity came as a complete surprise to me…although I know, from personal experience, that the similarity will turn out to be casual. Unless there’s deliberate copying (sometimes known as “plagiarism”), stories can no more be alike than snowflakes. The reason is simple: no two human imaginations are exactly alike. For the doubters, this excerpt should demonstrate that I was thinking dome and isolation long before Homer, Marge, and their amusing brood came on the scene.

    I hope you enjoy this. As always, Ms. Mod and I welcome your comments.

Steve King

 

12:47pm June 18th, 2009:

I'm delighted to tell you that I won not one but TWO Stoker Awards at this year's ceremony, one for Duma Key (Best Novel) and one for Just After Sunset (Best Collection). My motto is, You can never be too thin, too rich, or win too many Stoker Awards. (If you've never seen one, the awards are most excellently cool.) My thanks to everyone who voted, and my congratulations to all the other nominees. Most of all, though, thanks to everyone who bought those books and enjoyed them. (And if you bought them and didn't enjoy them, I still thank you.)

Steve

 

12:32pm June 1st, 2009:

    Summer is short and entertainment is vital. Therefore, make sure you take advantage of this June's suggestions. Would I steer you wrong? Hell, no! So here they are:

  1. Fangoria's anniversary issue, on sale now.
  2. Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions.
  3. James McMurtry's Just Us Kids. Real alt-country rock and roll.
  4. Apple pies from Checkers. They come rolled in cinnamon. Yum!
  5. Waffles and eggs at Waffle House. Hash browns loaded with cheese optional.
  6. Monster Truck Jam (as long as you root for The Gravedigger to lose.)
  7. Ride the Boulder Dash wooden roller coaster in Bristol, CT.
  8. Listen to the entire Metallica catalogue. Then get your ears checked. You know you've been meaning to do it.
  9. Go to the beach on a motorcycle with your honey.
  10. Read Nobody Move, by Denis Johnson.
  11. Read Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child.
  12. Read Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline.
  13. Read The Way Home, by George Pelecanos.
  14. See Drag Me to Hell, directed by the incomparable Sam Raimi.
  15. Play AC/DC in your car with the windows rolled down and the volume all the way up.
  16. Root for the Red Sox to bury the Yankees.
  17. Pray for Big Papi (David Ortiz).
  18. Wear your sunglasses at night.
  19. Watch for an excerpt from Under the Dome in Entertainment Weekly.

 

10:50am September 4th, 2008:

SELF-INTERVIEW
By Stephen King
    Every so often Stephen King sits down to interview himself for the website. He did so again in early September of 2008. Here it is.

Steve: The most natural question to kick off an interview like this would be: Is it weird to interview yourself?

SK: Not at all! Most fiction-writers are schizophrenic by nature. Which makes us crazy, I suppose, but it’s a profitable madness.

Steve: Second natural question: what do you think of the re-vamped website?

SK: Love it. If I didn’t, it would be strange, because it was a fairly costly upgrade.

Steve: Tax-deductible?

SK [laughs]: Ask me stuff I can answer, Steve. Tax law isn’t on that list. But yeah, probably.

Steve: Do you go there often?

SK: All the time. I ghost around the message-board. It’s like being a fly on the wall. Every now and then I get flamed, but sometimes I deserve it.

Steve: Like when you made that dumb remark about how if kids didn’t learn to read and write, they’d end up in the military?

SK: Ow! But I’d have to agree that was badly phrased. Most of the troops I’ve met—and I meet a lot, because Bangor’s a National Guard town—read and write well. But of course, kids who don’t read and write well score down on their SATs and have trouble getting into colleges with scholarship money to give out, and that makes the military look good. There’s nothing wrong with the military option—as long as you clearly realize you’re eligible get shot at, that is—but kids deserve more options. Reading and writing provide them. That’s what I wanted to say.

Steve: So if you could get a do-over on that remark—?

SK: I’d take it. But writers expressing themselves poorly in speaking situations isn’t new; that’s why we’re writers! And the basic point is a valid one. Nor do I think our troops need our constant, unqualified worship. They’re tough guys and gals. They can take care of themselves, and most have got more important things to worry about than whether or not Steve King dissed them at a PEN event in Washington D.C.

Steve: And no diss was intended?

SK: Nope.

Steve: New book in November?

SK: Yeah, short stories. Just After Sunset, it’s called. I wanted to call it Unnatural Acts of Human Intercourse, and the publisher had a hissy-fit.

Steve: I like that title.

SK [laughs maniacally]: Of course you do, you’re me!

Steve: Do you have a favorite in the collection?

SK: There’s one called “A Very Tight Place” that I like because it’s flat-out gross. Also, since it was published in McSweeney’s, it will be new to most readers. There are other stories that were published in smaller mags, as well. One of them is called “Ayana.” I loved the way that one turned out.

Steve: And “N?” That seems to be the one people are talking about.

SK: Yeah, ’cause my publisher teamed with Marvel Comics to create a graphic version of the story. You can still get it on the web. Free in some places, I believe, but I like the iTunes pay-for-play downloads because they’re so crisp and clear. It’s also new to people, because it’s the one story in Just After Sunset that hasn’t been published somewhere.

Steve: Is it long?

SK: Pretty. About 21,100 words.

Steve: That was your attempt to write a Lovecraft-style story, wasn’t it?

SK: Not Lovecraft; it’s a riff on Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan,” which is one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language. Mine isn’t anywhere near that good, but I loved the chance to put neurotic behavior—obsessive/compulsive disorder—together with the idea of a monster-filled macroverse. That was a good combination. As for Machen vs. Lovecraft: sure, Lovecraft was ultimately better, because he did more with those concepts, but “The Great God Pan” is more reader-friendly. And Machen was there first. He wrote “Pan” in 1895, when HPL was five years old.

Steve: Working on a novel?

SK: Yeah. The first draft’s almost done.

Steve: What’s it called?

SK: Under the Dome. I first tried to write it when I was twenty-five or so, but the concept was just too big, and I put it aside.

Steve: That’s long, too, isn’t it?

SK: Oh God. [Laughs] It’s twice the length of Duma Key. Over 1500 pages in manuscript. The first draft weighs 19 pounds. I have nightmares of the study burning down with the hard copy and the thumb-drive both inside.

Steve: When will it be published?

SK: No idea. I want to get the draft done, then go back to work on Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which is the musical I’m collaborating on with John Mellencamp.

Steve: How close is the musical to done?

SK: A lot of it’s there. The first act (there are two) needs more work, but John’s music is absolutely terrific.

Steve: How many songs?

SK: He’s done maybe fourteen. I don’t know if they’ll all be in the show or not, but I hope so. I’ve come to believe John’s a pop music genius, but the main thing is he works really hard. And he expects others around him to do the same thing. He’s got a nice family and a great sense of humor.

Steve: Want to talk about politics?

SK: Nah, people don’t want to hear that from me. I will say that, as the scary guy, the thought of the two-year governor of Alaska becoming President if McCain got the job and then died doesn’t thrill me. Part of it’s that right-wing bunker mentality, but mostly…well, let’s face it: McCain’s pretty old. At the outer limits of the insurance actuarial tables.

Steve: So you do want to talk about politics?

SK: Really, I don’t. I’ve got an Obama sticker on my car, and I guess that says what needs saying. Call me a tiresome liberal if you want, but I just think it would be nice to have a smart guy running things for a change. We tried dumb and it hasn’t worked out too well.

Steve: Any more movies in the future?

SK: Dolan’s Cadillac, with Christian Slater. It’s wrapped production, and what I’ve seen looks great. My old Kingdom Hospital compadre Rick Dooling wrote it, and—in the words of Bryan Adams—the dialogue cuts like a knife but feels so right.

Steve: TV?

SK: Faithful, the Red Sox book I did with Stewart O’Nan, is supposed to be an HBO mini-series. The script is just goddam hilarious, so I hope they make it. And for the people who liked that book [Faithful], try Stewart’s novel, Last Night at the Lobster. It’s short, and it’s wonderful. Unforgettable, really. It’s a book to read while you listen to Workingman’s Dead.

Steve: Red Sox gonna make postseason this year?

SK: Sure.

Steve: World Series?

SK: I think they’ll be there, yeah.

Steve: Tampa Bay?

SK: Postseason by the skin of their teeth. The Rays are going to have a tough September…and I say that as a fan, because Tabby and I live in the Tampa area during the winter and early spring. [Laughs] We didn’t want to go to Florida, but when you get old, it’s the law. By the way, did you notice that the Rays went from worst to first when they got that Devil out of their name? Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!

Steve: Are you going to write another novel after Dome? Those retirement rumors are going around again.

SK: Novelists retire after every book. Until they get the next idea.

Steve: Have you got the next idea yet?

SK: No, but I’m not worrying about it.

Steve: What is worrying you?

SK: Well…you know, that question always reminds me of a Nat Hentoff novel. Best title of the 20th century, really: I’m Really Dragged, But Nothing Gets Me Down. It’s kind of a drag turning 61, but you know what they say: 61 is the new 59. And not too much gets me down. When it does, I put on the rock and roll.

Steve: What are you reading?

SK: A British mystery/suspense novelist named Robert Goddard. The entire oeuvre, which is—happily—quite large. 17 or 18 books, I think. The guy is insanely good, and the books are the kind you stay up too late to finish. I know that “I stayed up late” idea gets bandied around a lot, but with Goddard it’s really true. Clean writing, sympathetic characters, big surprises—what else do you want for your fifteen bucks? I’m also reading George Pelecanos—The Turnaround. Probably his best, most focused book. It’s that shock-of-recognition thing: you really feel you’re there.

Steve: Movies?

SK: Saw a great one called Tell No One. It’s French, with subtitles, but based on an American suspense novel by Harlan Coben. Had the best foot-chase I’ve seen in maybe twenty years. The ending strained my credulity a little, but after a lifetime spent writing make-believe, my credulity is very elastic.

Steve: Double-jointed credulity?

SK [laughs]: I’d say triple jointed!

Steve: Music?

SK: I loved James McMurtry’s new album, Just Us Kids, and there’s a new Al Green soul album that’s insanely good: Lay It Down. I liked the single “I Kissed a Girl,” by Katy Perry—silly, but that image The taste of her cherry Chapstik is exactly right, the perfect detail. I also liked the Madonna single, and—is it Metro Station? A boyband, I think, but very rhythmic. “Shake It” especially. Best record of the summer was Viva la Vida, by Coldplay.

Steve: Anything else you want to say?

SK: Yeah. Let’s go get a hamburger.

Steve: I’m all over that.
 

 

12:41pm March 24th, 2006:

Regarding Cell...

CELL SPOILER: "Based on the information given in the final third of Cell—I’m thinking about the reversion back toward the norm of the later phone crazies—it seems pretty obvious to me that things turned out well for Clay’s son, Johnny. I don’t need to tell you this, do I?”

-Steve

 

12:49pm February 23rd, 2005:

I ordinarily don’t comment far in advance on films based on my work, especially TV films, but in the case of Desperation I am going to make an exception because my old partner in crime, Mick Garris, has produced an extraordinary piece of work, and the ensemble cast is outstanding.  Ron Perlman as Collie Entragian will haunt your dreams.  You might want to consider making time in May (tentative) for this one, which is when ABC plans to run it.

One word of warning:  this is TV and it’s impossible to tell in advance how much of a given piece of work will be cut.  The version of Desperation I saw was graphic and very frightening. This may make the network uneasy.

Stephen King

 

12:23pm December 4th, 2000:

We have been deluged with requests for comment on the cessation of The Plant at the end of December. First, let me make two things clear. The first is that Part 6 of The Plant does conclude the first major phase of the story. It is complete in itself, containing the three classical elements: beginning, middle, and end. The second thing is that The Plant is not finished on line. It is only on hiatus. I am no more done than the producers of the TV show Survivor are done. I am simply in the process of fulfilling my other commitments. In my view, The Plant has been quite successful. You can form your own opinion based on the story itself and our complete financial records which will be posted to this site in January. Think of it as Plant Part 7!

That said, I think that the following New York Times editorial and my reply (which they declined to publish) pretty much delineates the boundaries of this fascinating little adventure. If you read them, I urge you to read them together. They will serve as my only point-counterpoint on this subject. May I scold for a minute? This whole discussion is beside the point. My job is not to comment on art and fiction. I am not a critic. If anything has discouraged me about the course of The Plant from July until December, it has been the almost total lack of discussion of the story. Let's get back to that and try to stay there.

 

Stephen King
12/4/00

 

12:13pm December 4th, 2000:

The Plant: Getting a Little Goofy

By Stephen King

In a December 1st editorial titled "King's Closure," the New York Times states, "...one reads Stephen King novels in a single gulp. Their chief effect is suspense of a kind that cannot be drawn out over months." Surely whoever wrote that particular opinion can't have much acquaintance with the Times's own bestseller lists. In 1996 I published a novel called The Green Mile in six installments, and the experiment was a roaring commercial success. At one point, all six chapbooks were on the Times paperback bestseller list at the same time, causing the folks who craft the lists to change their way of listing such endeavors (serial novels are now accorded only a single slot on the Times list, no matter how many installments they may include).

John Saul later published a similar novel in six parts, and enjoyed similar success. Interestingly enough, Jackie Collins's foray into the serial novel field was less popular, perhaps because it was not a suspense story. Contrary to what the Times editorial department may think, tales of suspense almost cry out for serialization. They don't call them "cliffhangers" for nothing.

I learned a great many interesting things in the course of The Plant's run on the Internet (a run that's not over, incidentally, but only in hiatus). Perhaps the most dismaying is the profound misunderstanding most business people seem to have concerning how entertainment-which is mostly produced by talented goofballs-interfaces with the business potential they see (or think they see) in the web. One thing seems clear to me: what works on TV, in the movies, and in popular fiction doesn't work in the same way on the Net. A great many business ventures (and not a few fortunes) have already crashed as a result of that erroneous assumption.

Popular entertainments have a place on the Net, but finding the most efficient ways to make them work is a trial and error process. Most people who invest big money in flossy entertainment websites are going to find themselves out of luck, out of dough, and scratching their heads. People who start out just to have fun-to goof around, in other words-are going to find some Napster-sized pots of gold. Profit never comes first, though. What comes first is something like, "Gosh, I've got an idea and my uncle's got a barn-let's put on a show!" There's a lot of available barn space on the Internet, and a lot of people are going to put on shows. I was delighted to be one of the first, and I'm not done yet. Goodness, why would I be? I'm having a hell of a good time.

The Plant will end up grossing at least $600,000, and may end up over a million. These are not huge numbers in today's book market, but The Plant-pay attention, now, because this is the important part-is not a book. Right now it exists as nothing but electronic bits and bytes dancing gaily in cyberspace. Yes, it's been downloaded by a hundred thousand or so people, and some of them have printed hard copies (hand-bound them just like medieval manuscripts, too, for all I know), but mostly it's just an electronic mirage floating out there all by itself like Coleridge's stately pleasure dome, with no printing costs, publisher's cuts, or agents' fees to pull it down. Advertising aside (and finding the correct advertising venues for internet users is a whole other issue), costs are nonexistent and the profit potential is unlimited.

I see three large problems. One is that most Internet users seem to have the attention span of grasshoppers. Another is that Internet users have gotten used to the idea that most of what's available to them on the Net is either free or should be. The third-and biggest-is that book-readers don't regard electronic books as real books. They're like people saying, "I love corn on the cob but creamed corn makes me gag." Since The Plant experiment began in July, I've had dozens of people come up to me and say that they can't wait to read the story - when it's in book form. They either don't go on the Web, don't go on it for anything but e-mail, or just don't think of reading online, even if what they're reading has been printed out in the privacy of their own homes, as real reading. To them, it's creamed corn. And it makes them gag.

In this last fact, I see a tremendous opportunity. In truth, I don't believe the on-line publication of The Plant has done more than graze whatever potential it might have as a book. The two markets aren't quite apples and oranges, but there is still only a small overlap. In other words, we seem to have discovered an entirely new dimension to the sort of publishing which used to be called "first serial rights." Only instead of generating ten or twenty or perhaps even fifty thousand dollars for pre-publication print rights (in a traditional magazine like Cosmopolitan or Rolling Stone, let us say), we're talking about much bigger numbers.

None of this is a bad thing or a good thing. Neither is any of it a sure-fire thing. Like the more traditional artistic endeavors, it's a goofy thing. A fun thing. Neither the sums generated nor the future of publishing is the point. The point is trying some new things; pushing some new buttons and seeing what happens.

Read the OP/Ed Piece from The New York Times

 

12:06pm October 9th, 2000:

Following December's installment of this story--December's very long installment of this story--The Plant will be going back into hibernation so that I can continue work on Black House (the sequel to The Talisman, written in collaboration with Peter Straub). I also need to complete work on two new novels (the first, Dreamcatcher, will be available from Scribner's next March) and see if I can't get going on The Dark Tower again. And my agent insists I need to take a breather so that foreign translation and publication of The Plant--also in installments, also on the Net--can catch up with American publication. Yet don't despair. The last time The Plant furled its leaves, the story remained dormant for nineteen years. If it could survive that, I'm sure it can survive a year or two while I work on other projects.

Part 6 is the most logical stopping point. In a traditional print book, it would be the end of the first long section (which I would probably call "Zenith Rising"). You will find a climax of sorts, and while not all of your questions will be answered not yet, at least--the fates of several characters will be resolved.

Nastily

Permanently.

As a way of thanking those readers (somewhere between 75 and 80 per cent) who came along for the ride and paid their dues for parts 1 through 3, Part 6 of The Plant will be available free of charge. Enjoy...but don't relax too much. When The Plant returns, it will once more be on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In the meantime, get ready for Part 6. I think you're going to be surprised.

Perhaps even shocked.

     Best regards (and happy holidays),
     Stephen King

And just by the way...

   Readers of The Plant should be aware that although I am stopping at the end of Part 6 because of other committments--most notably the job of finishing The Talisman sequel with Peter Straub--the pay-through rate has fallen off radically with Part 4. In fact, the numbers have dropped below 50%. Neither Marsha nor I can assign any particular reason for this precipitous drop off, it may be that people are stealing this particular installment simply because they know the story is going to stop anyway.

 

12:12pm August 25th, 2000:

Dear Constant Reader,

For those of you who are interested, here's an update on The Plant as of late August. I judge Part 1 as a considerable success, both in the number of downloads and in the pay-through. The situation with Part 2 is less clear. For one thing, a number of people have experienced problems getting connected and successfully downloading the story. These are technical problems which are being worked out, and all I can say is that if you have had problems, keep trying...and remember what one E-book executive has said: Where we are with this new form is roughly analogous to where the automobile industry was in 1908. In other words, if you are having problems getting the engine started, keep turning that crank.

We are seeing two potential problems with Part 2. First, while downloads remain strong, we have little doubt that the total number is down slightly from Part 1. This may be because people don't like the story; it may be because there has been far less publicity and media interest. As the author of the story, I naturally prefer the second possibility. In terms of continuing, this is not a problem. Based on the ground rules I set down at the outset, my job is to continue even if only 800 people download every episode-as long, that is, as 75% of those 800 people pay for what they are getting. The real problem is that we at Philtrum are beginning to see a widening disparity between downloads and payments. There is undoubtedly some thievery and bootlegging going on, but Marsha and I believe the real problem may lie elsewhere. It appears to us that some people are downloading two and even three times to different formats-to the Palm Pilot say, and also to whatever Microsoft uses. This may be based on a simple misperception. Let me put it this way: you couldn't go into a bookstore and say, "I want you to give me the paperback version and the audio version of this book free because I bought the hardcover." As simply as I can put it, you must pay for what you take every time you take it or this won't work.

As for the story itself, I have gone back to work and have written another 50,000 words. I am now all set to publish episodes of The Plant in September, October, and November. All I am guaranteeing, however, is Part 3 in September. After Part 3 is published, we will make a go-no go decision based on the pay-through.

I have been asked by a good many people about the fate of The Plant if the on-line experiment fails. All I can say is that while I love the new stuff, I have a great many other commitments, and the chances of it being finished or published in the near future would be slim. With the Internet to drive matters, the show will go on. If, however, the numbers don't support continuing the story, I will have to cease. The eventual decision doesn't rest with me; it is floating around somewhere out there in cyberspace.

One thing I almost forgot, and that is the issue of pricing. Installments one, two and three are going to be available for $1. Further installments up to 8 will be available for $2 each. In other words, you complete financial liability for the first 8 installments of this story will be $13 or about the cost of a trade paperback or a hardcover novel offered at 40% discount in a chain bookstore. Any parts beyond 8-which would be the balance of the story, would be posted free.

We have also had some complaints about the cost of ink and paper. On that subject, I have just two words: oh, please. One would think the books people bought in book stores were printed on air or that the cost of ink, paper, binding and boards were not included. As Internet readers---en as printers-buyers of The Plant are being spared these last two expenses. In closing let me quote science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein: TANFL, that stands for There Ain't No Free Lunch.

   In closing I just want to add that I appreciate all the support you have shown me thus far, and to add that the profit-motive was never the principal force driving this amusing exploration, and that is not what's driving it now. We are exploring a new continent, that's all, and so far it has been fun.

     Steve

 

12:10pm July 31st, 2000:

UPDATE ON THE PLANT

I promised visitors at this site--not to mention interested media types--an update on how we're doing as of 7/31. This is that update. I have been as honest and specific as I can be, believing that's the best way to spike rumors.

How many downloads so far?

152,132

How many have paid?

116,200, or 76.38 per cent. 93,200 have paid up front with credit cards, using Amazon.com's service. 23,000 have promised to pay later, and these payments are showing up already (one guy sent me a silver dollar). The pay-through rate has been higher than I dared hope.

Costs to you, as of Part 1?

$124,150 for print ads in Publisher's Weekly and USA Today, Load test for the Web Servers, Project Management Fees, Server setup fees and Compositor's fees to Mr. Michael Alpert, who has done his usual great job of making the Philtrum product look smart--ladies and gentlemen, give him a hand. There's also the cost of maintaining the servers through which my story is downloaded. Marsha may have an idea of what these fees amount to, but so far I don't. Not added to these costs are my services as writer and Marsha's as all-around whirling dervish.

A lot fewer downloads than "Riding the Bullet." Disappointed?

Not yet. You need to remember that "Bullet" was a magnificent one-shot, available from a lot more sources and in many cases given away for free. If THE PLANT gets done, people are going to be downloading well into 2001, even with longer segments on offer. If those who have downloaded Part 1 so far download the following ten or eleven installments, the total downloads would be 1,673,452. Do the math. It's pretty good math, if people keep coming back.

Do you expect more downloads of Part 1?

Sure. It'll be up by itself until August 21st, remember, and then up in tandem with Part 2 until September 25th. I think we'll get a bump on Part 1 when Part 2 goes on sale. How big is anybody's guess.

Are you go for Part 3 in September?

Yes.

Are you working on THE PLANT again?

Yes. Hard.

Will people continue to come back?

That's anybody's guess. Some readers have been disappointed in the epistolary format ("Why should I pay for a bunch of office memos?" one Constant Reader asked). It's certainly too late to change that now, and what was good enough for Bram Stoker (DRACULA) is good enough for me. And the tale becomes more narrative--although from different points of view--as it goes along. In ANY case, I have to get enough downloads to feel the experiment is working. That was, after all, the point.

And if the downloads don't stay up?

I pull the plug, say thank you very much, and go back to work. On THE PLANT if I'm having fun (so far I am), on something else if I'm not. There's certainly no problem with the pay-through. If we've proved nothing else, we've proved that the guy who shops for entertainment on the Net can be as honest as the one in a retail bricks-and-mortar store.

If I have other questions?

Save 'em. We're busy. And to all of you who downloaded and then said "Right on, keep it coming," THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Steve

 

12:26pm July 25th, 2000:

Post #2

Here's the truth: When I made a decision to post the first two installments of The Plant, my hopes of success weren't very high. Publicly, I have always expressed a great deal of confidence in human nature, but in private I have wondered if anybody would ever pay for anything on the Net. It now looks as though people will, and I am faced with the real possibility of finishing The Plant. I don't think anyone wants to buy 5,000 word installments over a period of over 20 months, and my experience with The Green Mile makes me think that interest would fade, anyway. Therefore, what I propose doing is this: Episode 2, 6-7,000 words; Episode 3, 10-12,000 words. Download price in both cases would remain $1. Installments 4 through 7 or 8 would be much longer-perhaps as long as 25,000 words-and the download price would go up to $2.50. What do you think about this? Will it work?

Steve

 

12:09pm July 25th, 2000:

Dear Constant Reader,

Thanks for your response to The Plant! It's been great! These numbers aren't equal to Riding the Bullet-at least not yet-but our publicity campaign was almost non-existent. New travels fast on the web, however; it's the 21st century version of the jungle telegraph, and the number of downloads seems to be staying hot. Better still, the confirmed rate of payment by credit card is very strong-75% at least. When the dust settles, Marsha and I are hoping-quite reasonably, we think-for a pay-through rate of 85-90%. I should add that a good many non-payers appear to have been not readers but browsers...like people in a bookstore who read a couple of pages and then put the book back on the shelf. We have been deluged with questions from the press about how we are doing. The short answer is that we are doing fine. We are going to give trend figures on July 31st, after this project has been running for a week. We don't anticipate talking to the press again until that time. The reason for this is simple: the people who drive this and are paying their dollars are the people who visit this web site, not the people who necessarily read The New York Times or watch CNN. Good or bad, you deserve the news first, you deserve to read it here, and that's the way it is going to play out. For the time being, just let me reiterate that this experiment seems to be working. I am delighted. Thank you. Tell your friends.

Peace,

Steve

 

12:47pm November 2nd, 1999:

"I am aware that a lot of people have been concerned about press reports that I am either not writing or not able to write. Most of these reports are the result of material taken out of context in the Dateline interview Tabby and I did. What I said--and I believe the actual interview makes this clear--is that I found it extremely difficult to find my way back into writing after the accident. That battle was fought in July however, and I feel that I won a conditional victory. Since the accident I have finished my book on writing, I have written a novelette called "Riding the Bullet," and have begun work on an original miniseries for TV. This is called Rose Red and is an expansion of a screenplay I wrote some years ago. I have also begun talking with Peter Straub about finally writing a sequel to The Talisman -we jokingly called this project T2, although I doubt if there will be a part for Arnold Schwartzenegger. My endurance is much less than it was, and my output has been cut in half, but I am working. I hope that this sets some fears to rest, and believe me when I say that I am very touched by the expressed concern. I am touched, in fact, that anyone cares at all, one way or the other. Now get out there and do something nice for someone else."

Stephen King, 2 November 1999


 

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