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Claims that Stephen King’s book sales have plummeted originated as satire

CLAIM: Book sales for bestselling author Stephen King have dropped “90% since he went woke.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The claim originated on a satire website. There are no credible indications that King’s book sales have seen a significant drop. As of Wednesday, his most recent novel, “Holly,” was No. 1 on multiple bestsellers lists, including from Publishers Weekly, The New York Times and USA Today. Representatives for King and his publisher also confirmed to The Associated Press that there is no truth to the claim.

THE FACTS: Social media users in recent days shared an image that erroneously claims King’s book sales have plummeted due to his political beliefs.

“Stephen King’s Book Sales Dropped By 90% Since He Went WOKE,’” reads text below photos of King. Text above the photos states: “Go woke go broke”

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One post on X, formerly known as Twitter, shared the image and asked: “Is Stephen King getting what he deserves?” It had received more than 32,000 likes as of Wednesday.

However, the claim is completely fabricated and originated on satirical websites.

The Dunning-Kruger Times, which is part of a network of similar sites dubbed America’s Last Line of Defense, published a version of the story that alleged King’s book sales had dropped by 70%. The network has previously published satirical articles that have been shared as real on social media.

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“Dunning-Kruger-Times.com is a subsidiary of the ‘America’s Last Line of Defense’ network of parody, satire, and tomfoolery,” its “About Us” section states.

The website Esspots, which also identifies itself as satirical, published its own article on the topic, but claimed that King’s book sales had dropped by 90%.

There is no indication that King’s book sales have dramatically decreased. His most recent horror novel “Holly,” which came out Sept. 5, was No.1 on multiple bestseller lists as of Wednesday, including from The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today.

Representatives for King and his publisher said that claims his book sales have plummeted are false.

“Sales for Stephen King’s books are as strong as ever across all print and digital formats as evidenced by his just-published novel HOLLY,” Brian Belfiglio, the director of marketing at Scribner, a Simon & Schuster imprint that has published many of his recent titles, wrote in an email to the AP. Belfiglio also pointed to the novel’s No. 1 debut on multiple bestseller lists.

Asked about these claims, Eric Amling, an agent at Darhansoff & Verrill Literary Agents, which represents King, told the AP: “Fact is that sales are through the roof.”

“Woke” is slang term that was originally used to describe an awakening about social justice issues, but has more recently become a derogatory label used by conservatives.

King notes on his website that he is a Democrat and has been open about his political views on social media in the past.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

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