My Book About Stephen King

My copies of Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters, came today.  Mostly copies to send for review -- and one for Annie. I dedicated the book to her, and the first copy came on what seemed like the worst day of her life.  (It wasn't trust me) But to see her name in print brought a huge smile to her face on a gloomy day.

You can buy it here:
90 pages
Kindle Edition  $7.50     
Paperback  $8.90 (if you buy the paperback, the Kindle is just $1.00)
The purpose of the book is not so much to tell you brand new things about Stephen King.  Did you know Stephen King wrote his own father into the pages of The Stand?  Yes, I discuss that -- but that kind of information isn't the thrust of  what I wanted to deal with.

Of the many emails I get, very few (none) are asking me questions about King himself.  Usually I get more literary questions.  Of interest to me was to compare King's work and life to the work of other great writers, artist and directors of the past.  Alfred Hitchcock's movies will be studied for years to come; will future generations regard King the same way?

So actually, the book is as much about OTHER artist as it is Stephen King.  It looks at those who inspired him and looks at direct connections between his work and theirs.

Why I wrote under a pen name:
Because I also write other things and did not want to confuse my authors page at Amazon.

I chose to self publish because it was actually the easiest avenue to offer exactly the content I wanted.

There are some things I discovered in the journey:

1. There are no public domain pictures of Stephen King.  

After sending my manuscript to my editor, Kristin, I wrote to a woman who does cover art.  "No  way!" She said at once.  "I can't do anything that has a picture of Stephen King."

I realized I would need someone who didn't just design covers, but who actually had the ability to draw.  That lead me to France (yeah, France) and a young woman named Misha.  She had a lot of ideas, but became a little panicked when she realized that there are indeed NO public domain pictures of Stephen King.  None.  Zip.  

Often cover art is done using stock photos, manipulated in such a way as to make them look original or unique.  So a lot of book covers are really collages.

You can get public domain pictures of Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft and even Mr. Poe.  But not Stephen King.  The artist shared that she felt she could draw freehand a picture of King that would be unique to the cover.  
"Are you sure this doesn't break copyright or something," I asked.
"Well, no way," she wrote back.  "I drew it with my own hand.  It's not a photograph, it's a drawing.  More important, it's my drawing."
I felt better.  Nah, actually, I felt really excited!

2. The name Stephen King cannot be used as a search word on Amazon.  

Really? . . . REALLY!  Amazon dinged the book upon review, indicating that  they do not allow authors names or references to other books to be used as keywords.

Wait a minute.  What if the book is actually about Stephen King?

This lead to an exchange of emails.  "What about books that are biographies?" I asked.  Ah, that seemed to raise an eyebrow.  The next day I got an email indicating my search words were A-Okay.  I wrote back, just to be sure exactly which search words were okay.  I got an email from Amazon indicating that they reviewed the book and decided that the name "Stephen King" was indeed an appropriate search term for the subject matter.  I felt like I'd won some kind of small victory.

3. Editing is important.

I didn't learn this -- I knew it; but I think it's worth sharing.  Everything we write needs editing.  Blogs need an editor -- but no one wants to pay someone to edit a blog!  I think it's funny when someone says, "I have an aunt who's  an English major, and she's editing my book."

I had my wife read through the book as I wrote, and then a second time once it was complete.  She caught a lot of things -- but it still had to go off to Kristen House.  I think it's important to find someone who is a professional at editing and who you don't know.  After all, people you know are a little more forgiving.  What's more, people who know you also know how you speak.  That means that when reading, they sometimes fill in words or sentences the way their mind remembers you speaking, not the way the words actually appear on the page.  That's also why you can't edit your own work; you don't see what's on the paper, you see what you remember writing.

A copy edit goes through the entire book, looking for not only spelling errors, but content and clarity of the manuscript.  It also identifies awkward sentences and works to restructure them.

The scary part is fact checking.  As a current post by Bryant Burnette will point out, even fans get facts wrong.  The process of fact checking was constant.  Also, when I sent the small book over to the editor, I had a list of words that were supposed to be spelled wrong.  "Mother Abigail is spelled ABAGAIL," one note read.  And, "Please do not correct Sematary in Pet Sematary."  


  1. It makes me happy to know that Abagail was spelled correctly. That one is very high on the list of words than many King fans cannot seem to get right. (Which makes sense, given that it IS usually spelled the other way. Still, stuff like that grates on me big-time.)

    That process with Amazon sounds bizarre.

    I had no idea that the cover was drawn! It looked like a photo to me. Cool! Weird that there are no public-domain photos of King, but then again, I know little about what is and isn't p.d.

    I look forward to reading the book!

    1. I think King must somehow maintain control of his image. I don't really know how that's possible. But think of how many books you see where his picture is drawn, or pretty well used photos are used yet again.

    2. I'm trying to recall which magazine photos I've seen of King that were taken from either "live" events or autograph signing and the like, and I'm coming up blank.

      I don't know how that copyright works either.


  2. You know, now that I think of it, that drawing looks real good enough for TV, actually, especially with all the other authors in back; makes 'em look like the Fright Pack!.


  3. When doing research I could not get away from the very strange H.P. Lovercraft. He was everywhere! Now all my friends go, "H.P. who?" sigh. Glad I didn't devote a whole chapter to him.

    1. Actually, that sort of makes me wish all the more that you'd given Lovecraft a chapter. Oh well.


    2. Lovecraft is discussed in chapter 1.

  4. Added this to my reading list - look for a review on Lilja's & my Stephen King podcast over at Lilja's Library in a couple of months.

    Best wishes with the book!

    Lou Sytsma

  5. Serious congratulations on the book! I will get my hands on a copy as soon as possible!

    And I actually never realized that Mother Abagail was spelled like that, or I never paid much attention... probably the latter...