Sunday, 14 July 2013

JK Rowling publishes (briefly) under another name

I don't expect I'm breaking this news to anyone. But it does strike me as raising a number of interesting questions.

  • Kate Mills, fiction editor at Orion Books, admitted she had turned down the crime novel, which she described as well-written but quiet. She tweeted: So, I can now say that I turned down JK Rowling. I did read and say no to Cuckoo's Calling. Anyone else going to confess?

  • JKR published with Sphere, part of Little, Brown Book Group which published The Casual Vacancy. So does this mean she tried to find a publisher using only her nom de plume, Robert Galbraith, but failed and had to turn to her own publisher - who would naturally be eager to publish a new JKR?

  • The Cuckoo's Calling launched 18th April 2013, with many glowing reviews from reviewers who would normally be reluctant to read a newbie author. Were they tipped off? Or did Little, Brown just push the book very hard, having paid a lot up front?

  • Until the revelation today, sales were modest and the book had only a handful of readers' reviews on Amazon. Author Ian Rankin wrote: "So a debut novelist, garnering good quotes from famed authors for the cover plus good reviews, can expect to sell only a few hundred copies."

  • So who let the cat out of the bag? It must have been terribly frustrating for the publishers, watching the book sitting there, knowing with just a few words it could be selling thousands of copies per day...

  • The novel comes with a fake author bio: Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. 'Robert Galbraith' is a pseudonym. (Seems unnecessarily deceptive to me.)

  • The "Movers and Shakers" section of Amazon, which charts gains in sales by the hour, says sales of the book are currently up by more than 507,000%.


    1. Completely agree about the inflated bio. Why? Makes me think they weren't intending to reveal the true author name.

      And your point about the publishers knowing they could sell so many more books if the true name was out there...I think there is a mystery plot there for me. :)

    2. I'm perhaps naive, but I think Ms Rowling really submitted her crime novel under the nomme de plume. Of course there is speculation that Little Brown knew, but still they published it under the pseudonym, which allowed the critics to judge it on merits.

      Good stories, well told win out.

    3. Sara, apparently she was outed by a couple of independent linguistic experts - see here:

      Norm, the same source alleges that the book sold 1,500 copies before its true author was revealed. I wouldn't call that winning out in any major way :o)

    4. Apparently a reviewer of the book "praised the male author's ability to describe women's clothes." What a giveaway! A male author knowing something about women? Impossible! Of COURSE it must have been a woman all along!

    5. Just saw that article, Lexi. There's also one in the Times as well that describes the part Twitter played.

    6. Have you read some of the comments under the article about this in the Guardian website?! LOL!! Is it all a cynical ploy/publicity stunt etc? Conspiracy theories abound!

      At least the main winner continues to be JK.

      Take care

    7. Eeeenteresting. I wonder if this is the only one she's published like this, or if there's more. Have you read this one, Lexi?

    8. David, were I a male writer I'd find that annoying - actually, I'm prepared to find it annoying anyway!

      Sara, I went to look up the Times article and it's lurking behind a paywall...

      Kitty, just off to check out Guardian comments now. KBoards had plenty of theories too, many of them plausible.

      Maia, now that is an interesting thought. Any of you prepared to start a rumour that Ice Diaries is in fact written by JK Rowling? I had a quick look at the sample and for me it was less than compelling.

    9. It's the fake bio that really irked me.