Can You Call Yourself Stephen King? by @JoRobinson176

Apparently. But should you? There’s an author who publishes on Amazon called Stephen King. He isn’t the Stephen King who we know and love though. The four short books of his that I noticed all have two and a half, or two star average ratings overall. One of them has over two hundred reviews. All four of them are being lambasted, but all of their rankings are high, so they’re consistently selling well and have been for quite some time. This writer is obviously quite happy to take the flack while making money.

Many of the outraged reviews sharing that this isn’t the “real” Stephen King would make you wonder why people would keep on buying it. I nearly bought it though. Certain authors like King and Terry Pratchett I always just grab when I see one that I don’t have in my collection. It was only because the cover was so bad that I scrolled down to the reviews. I also don’t read these books as soon as I buy them. Generally they hang about for months in my Kindle – I’ve got some that have been lurking unopened in there for years, so returning them wouldn’t be an option. I could see where such a deception could lead to me posting my first ever one star review.

I’m pretty sure that Amazon wouldn’t let anyone use Stephen King as a pen name, so I’m assuming that this writer really does own that moniker. It must be a fairly common name. He’s not doing anything illegitimate if that really is his name, but I wonder why anyone would want to purposely sell his books knowing full well that readers think that they were written by someone else. And then just carry on doing that after hundreds of complaints. I don’t see any glory in that. When the other Jo Robinson’s books occasionally get added to my lists, I always request that Amazon remove them. I don’t want to reach readers by hanging on to the coat tails of an already very successful author. Slow and steady is good enough for me.

The minute there’s a breakout success, thousands of writers latch on and try to emulate the bestseller. The thing about breakouts is that they are in some way unique. They challenge, inspire, are relatable, or in some way emotionally moving or funny. Carbon copies of them might possibly give a reader some pleasure, but it will never be the same as the original. We need to be our own breakouts. If we believe in our work there is no need to think for a moment that tricking readers into thinking that we’re the real Danielle Steele will lead to anything but rage, just because we have the same name. E L James did manage to luck out by piggy backing Twilight, but that’s a one in a million kind of thing, and a whole other can of worms. Write what you write, follow your own star, and be proud and brave enough to make sure that readers see the real you.

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30 thoughts on “Can You Call Yourself Stephen King? by @JoRobinson176”

  1. Great post Jo. This is not something I’ve thought about… but you raise really good points. There are so many names out there that are shared by multiple people. It seems like Amazon could employ unique “user names” the way other online accounts are done. I guess they didn’t think very far ahead… Hugs! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Teagan. You’re right. When the other Jo Robinson’s books pop up with mine it freaks me out – I want to only be seen as me. Amazon should be looking at this sort of thing and fixing – also those one star reviews saying that the book never arrived – not the author’s fault. HUGS! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow… I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it… that’s low and cheap. I’ve JOKINGLY said in the past that I should write a novel entitled STEPHEN KING… much like that joke band Negativeland did in the early nineties releasing a song titled U2… but to actually do it shows no class.

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  3. Good post Jo. I checked to see if there were other authors with my name before publishing my first book. There was one, so even though she was not a “biggie” I decided to use my initials. Maybe my name should have been Patricia Cornwell?

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    1. Thank you Noelle. Patricia Cornwell. 😀 I would have done the same – in fact I did in the beginning for a short while use my middle name as a surname, but I didn’t like it so much and went back to my own name. I just make sure not to let my books get muddled with the other Jo Robinsons. Quite a few of them are pole dancers in Vegas, so I reckon I had a lucky escape.

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  4. Nice post Jo and a good reminder for us to look at the reviews before buying anything. Given that it’s relatively cheap to change your name by deed poll I’m surprised there aren’t more Stephen Kings out there holding onto the great mans coattails.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David, and welcome back! I missed you. That’s a really interesting fact. The way that Amazon operates now would definitely mean that the imposters would make a bit of cash even if they wrote total rubbish. I wonder what would happen if an imposter actually did write well. The greedy guys will always think of something. XXX MASSIVE HUGS XXX

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rowena! Me too. It’s a bit too much like identity theft not to. He must be making a good few thousand regularly on the strength of his name alone and not his writing which really seems like stealing to me. It’s a pity that Amazon doesn’t notice these things. XXXX

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      1. I have a book I think you’ll be interested to check out. It’s the “Big Book of Numbers” by Australian funny man and self-confessed maths nerd, Adam Spencer. Don’t know if you’ve heard of him but he’s brilliant. I wrote two posts: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/the-journey-of-a-thousand-books-sets-sail/ https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/teachers-beware-maths-geek-alert/
        Adam came and visited the kids’ school on Monday and my son just just riveted. Hope you have a great weekend xx Rowena

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  5. Reckon I might change my name 😉 seriously though, it’s a case of buyer beware. Always check first. There are a good few authors with the same name, which some will exploit. Shame, but that’s what will, and does happen. Cynic? Moi?

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  6. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I always rather fancied a nom de plume and when I wrote my first book which was very personal I was tempted to call myself something else.. but J.K Rowling or Danielle Steele never entered my head.. I have however been asked if I am related to A.J. Cronin… unfortunately not. Still you can call yourself anything you like as Jo Robinson​ says but the proof is in the pudding and if you write like Stevie King then you might get some flack.

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  7. It would never have occurred to me, although I know an author who swears by writing under many pseudonyms (as far as I know not those of famous authors, but just different names as he is convinced local names sell better in certain markets). He says he juggles over 10 different names. I can’t manage one, but I must say I’m curious. He has not reveal the names, so I don’t know. I think it’s not allowed any longer, but what used to be the fashion a while back was to add the name of some bestseller to the title of the book… The new…. Da Vinci Code or whatever. The reviews normally pointed out this was not so, but the sales could still be puzzlingly high.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post Jo and I am left simply asking why? Do people really get any satisfaction from the pay cheques knowing it was cheated out of readers? Crazy and totally unbeievable. Sansbury’s is a giant commercial name in the UK but would I ever seriously try to trade on that? No way. Keep them coming Jo xxx

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  9. Very interesting. If your motivation is purely money, then the sad truth is, there are people out there that don’t give a damn. It’s clearly not about the writing. Pen names are something that have been bothering me for ages now; should I, shouldn’t I? Like many people have said, if your writing is good, then the name doesn’t matter. However, tricking your readers into thinking you’re somebody else? Poor show.

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  10. A great post. I have come across this same thing several times when searching for books by certain authors. In most cases they are easy to spot if you check genres, but not always. Amazon should definitely do their homework here.

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  11. I was determined to publish under my own name and was lucky it is not one that any other author seems to share, but the other thing I did was search on amazon and google for the title I intended to use and various hashtags I wanted to use on social media before I published just so I could be sure anyone searching for my book would not end up with any dodgy suggestions lol. Recently I did the FB challenge that was doing the rounds where you type your first name and meme into the search engine and are then supposed to share the first thing that comes up on images, thanks to a certain Paula Deen I decided against sharing the things that came up for my first name lol

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