With all due respect, Stephen King was dead wrong

8:50 PM

(alternative title: Do you know how to get money, fame and laid? Stephen King doesn't.)


I think it’s fair to say that author, Stephen King is a fairly successful guy. Well, if you consider $40 million dollars a year and 49 bestsellers “successful”, I guess he’s done ok.

SK wrote Carrie, Cujo,  Christine ... and that’s just the Cs. He also wrote The Shining, The Running Man, Pet Cemetery, The Lawnmower Man, not to mention The Body (aka Stand by Me) and The Shawshank Redemption ... the list goes on (if you've got a spare hour or two you can read through that list in its entirety).

So yeah, there are some that might consider what he has to say on what works, what wins, and, on writing in particular, to be relatively authoritative. In fact, one of Mr King’s most read and loved tomes, On Writing, is a nonfiction book that was published in 2002 that chronicles just how he became one of the richest writers in the world and exactly what constitutes effective writing.

Which is all really great you guys, except he got it wrong.

And here’s where:  

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” – Stephen King, On Writing

Oh really? Well, with all due respect Mr King, making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid and making friends are exactly what writing’s about. But don’t just take my word for it, let the king-hitting, myth-busting evidence speak for itself:

Busted: Writing isn’t about .... Making Money

Even when you have a good product or service, good writing and presentation is often the difference between making a sale – or lots of sales – and not. Skillful use of words can hook in the right kind of people (and search engines), keep them interested, encourage action and make offers sound appealing.


In 2011, The Commonwealth Bank of Australia promoted its services to university students with cleverly worded ads, brochures and goodie packs in a campaign they called Heaps of Free Stuff. The campaign’s writing was widely praised and received industry awards for contributing to its big results that included 15,679 new savings accounts opened (67 percent increase on the previous year) and over 32,013 MasterCard applications (up 155 percent). Making money much?


Busted: Writing isn’t about .... Getting Famous



Have you heard of Joseph Kony? Chances are, you have if you had any exposure during 2012 to Facebook, Twitter (#stopkony), Buzzfeed, Google, online news, TV news, radio and newspapers.

If you were lost in space or in a remote pocket of some jungle during that time, here’s a recap: KONY 2012 is a 30 minute documentary created by social movement production company, Invisible Children with an emotively, compelling script urging the people of the world to help stop one of the ICC’s most wanted men. (The man is Josephy Kony, a Ugandan warlord and leader of a guerrilla group responsible for the enslavement of more than 30,000 children). The way Invisible Children intended to make Kony accountable was by making him famous. They hoped that that the fame and its associated outrage would be so pervasive it would put pressure on world leaders to take action against Kony. Discussion of the ineffectiveness of this strategy is best left for another day but on the subject of fame ...

This video on Joseph Kony - that is lengthy by social media standards and combined basic imagery with simple, yet heart-rending words - has managed to clock up over 100 million views on YouTube and Vimeo. Now, I'm no Price Waterhouse by any stretch, but by my calculations, that’s a lot of people who now know about that video's subject (AKA that's pretty famous).



Busted: Writing isn’t about .... Getting Dates

WARNING! Writing may not only get you dates, it could get you hitched. Low and behold:


New York man, Joe Ferrari cobbled together a few short sentences and proposed to his girlfriend via a giant billboard smack bang in the middle of a highway. She said yes.


Busted: Writing isn’t about .... Getting Laid
Um, hello!

Busted: Writing isn’t about .... Getting Friends



On April 16, 2009, Kutcher became the first user of Twitter to have more than a million Twitter friends and in doing so, beat CNN.  Since then, he’s made over 10 times that amount of Tweety friends.

And it's not just preening actors that do well on Twitter; companies can use it to positively affect the buying decisions of potential customers, bring more traffic to their websites and Facebook pages and attract new business. The key to making lots of friends on Twitter? You guessed it: engaging content.



So, tough break King. By all means you sleep well at night feeling great about enriching yourself and others, but my advice to you: stick to your day job.

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