Despite more success than any other thriller/horror writer in history, Stephen King makes a speciality out of finding new ways to market his books. "The first soldiers out of the trench are always machine-gunned," he comments. "But somebody has to go first, and I'm curious about this. You try these things and see what happens."
What he is trying this time is a mind-bending combination. "N", a previously unpublished story about "a psychiatrist who becomes the victim of the same mysterious and deadly obsession as his patient," which will be part of the table of contents of his new book of short stories, Just After Sunset, has been turned into a series of 25 two-minute video episodes. These will be released FREE to cellphone users via the largest providers (through an embedded Flash player that updates automatically, which sounds really scary), or can be bought through iTunes in batches of five for 99 cents, or the whole caboodle for $3.99.
Simon & Schuster will bring out Just After Sunset as a regular book in November -- but not before pitching it to the Wall Street Journal well ahead of time (to give them time to make sense of it all, as "Publishers Lunch" comments), so that they can tell the business world about this cute new marketing ploy. Then in 2009 -- wait for it -- it will come out as a Marvel comic!
And along the way lots and lots of organizations will be credited -- Scribner, Simon & Schuster Digital, Marvel Entertainment, CBS Mobile, Comic-Con . . .
Good lord. It sure does illustrate how keen publishers (and authors) are to come up with new marketing techniques.
And maybe it explains, too, why video trailers of Dark Knight mysteriously materialize in my outlook express inbox.