Rowling Published This Spring Quietly As "Robert Galbraith"
JK Rowling has confessed that she authored the crime novel THE CUCKOO'S CALLING, published in April to at least some positive reviews and very modest sales (441 print units in the UK, and about the same in the US, as tracked by Nielsen Bookscan). Rowling was unmasked by The Sunday Times "after it investigated how a first-time author 'with a background in the army and the civilian security industry' could write such an assured debut novel." Actually, as the paper's books editor Richard Brooks admitted, columnist India Knight was first set on the story by an anonymous Twitter tip (from an account that has since been deleted).
Rowling said, "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."
Following the revelation, the book's online sales rank rose quickly. Mulholland Books in the US and Little Brown UK are going back to press -- hardly surprising, given the tiny inventory required up until now. Rowling's full statement indicates she has another "Galbraith" crime novel coming next summer, from the same publishers, and she intends to continue the Cormoran Strike series beyond that.
At least one other UK editor, Kate Mills at Orion -- another part of Hachette UK -- was offered the manuscript and turned it down. She said, "I thought it was well-written but quiet. It didn't stand out for me and new crime novels are hard to launch right now." And to an extent her instincts were right, given the poor sales. It's not clear how widely the Galbraith manuscript was submitted. Rowling's spokesperson said, "I can confirm the book was treated like any new novel by a first-time writer. We are not going into any more detail than that or commenting further."