It’s been an interesting few days since it was revealed that J.K. Rowling wrote a crime novel (that was published a few months ago) under a pseudonym.
Well, you don’t get breaking book news like this very often, but The Independent reported last night that J.K. Rowling revealed The Cuckoo’s Calling, a crime novel published this April, was written by her under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Rowling indicated that part of the reason for keeping her authorship a secret was freedom from the expectation of her name, The Independent reported: “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”
The Cuckoo’s Calling currently has a 4.01 star rating on Goodreads, with only 25 reviews. (I heard some estimates Saturday night that the book had only sold a few thousand copies to this point.) Generally, readers seem to find the book satisfying and entertaining, with special praise for the main character, Cormoran Strike (that name does seem like a Rowling character, doesn’t it?).
Things have changed significantly since the news broke. The book became a bestselling almost instantly. It is currently backordered on Amazon (for those who don’t have e-book readers, or listen to audiobooks) and won’t ship for 1 – 3 weeks. An overnight sensation because of a name, not the story contained in its pages.
I can totally understand Rowling’s desire to publish under a pseudonym. The success of the Harry Potter series is both a blessing and a curse for her. Harry Potter was a worldwide phenomenon… everything she does now will always be compared to it. So, how does an author give themselves the chance to have their follow up work given a fair shake? Write under a pseudonym. It’s not that uncommon. I applaud Rowling for trying (for as long as she could) to see how her work would be received without her name on it. It’s a fascinating look at the psychology of the publishing industry—the producers and the consumers. There are so many interesting things we can take from this event that would take me forever to talk about… like the terrifying reality of how hard it is for an unknown author to get reviewed and sell books… oye…
See, I’ve read the Harry Potter books. Loved them. Absolutely loved them. But, I haven’t read A Casual Vacancy, her first adult novel after Harry Potter, and I don’t see myself reading The Cuckoo’s Calling either. No offense to Rowling, I’m sure both are well written, but the description of the former didn’t inspire me to read it, and this new one… well, crime novels just aren’t my thing. Hey, maybe one day I’ll want to give it a shot… but I’m gonna wait a while. For now, I’m picking my books based on whether the story strikes me as one I want to read.