Stephen King Just Stopped a Maine Newspaper From Cutting Its Freelance Book Reviews
Maine has inspired some of Stephen King's most successful horror novels, and now the 71-year-old author has found a way to repay his home state. As The A.V. Club reports, King recently helped rescue the freelance book reviews section of the Portland Press Herald and its sister paper The Maine Sunday Telegram, giving both Maine writers and freelance journalists a boost.
After the Portland Press Herald announced that it would no longer publish freelance reviews of books related to Maine, King turned to Twitter. "Retweet this if you're from Maine (or even if you're not)," he tweeted to his 5.1 million followers on Friday, January 11. "Tell the paper DON'T DO THIS."
The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram will no longer publish local, freelance-written reviews of books about Maine, set in Maine, or written by Maine authors.
Retweet this if you're from Maine (or even if you're not). Tell the paper DON'T DO THIS.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 11, 2019
The change would have had consequences not just for readers, but local writers. The paper's regional reviews highlight the books by Maine writers that national papers may ignore. They're also written by local freelance journalists, and cutting the section would leave them without work.
The Press Herald responded to King's viral call to action with a challenge of its own: If he could get 100 people to buy a digital subscription to the newspaper, it would not cut its the freelance book review budget, the paper tweeted. (The move wouldn't have eliminated reviews from the Press Herald entirely—the paper still planned on having a books section and running national reviews from wire services, but would have nixed the Maine-centric reviews it currently employs freelance writers to do.)
King's followers came through. In less than 48 hours, the paper gained roughly 200 new subscribers, and after doubling its goal, the Portland Press Herald promised to reinstate the freelance reviews in time for the January 20 edition of The Maine Sunday Telegram.
"You all are the best readers anywhere. Sincerely," the paper tweeted on January 12. "We love you Maine. We love you journalists. We love you newspapers."
[h/t The A.V. Club]