All In The Name

Recently, a debut novel called THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith created nothing but praise in the book world, not much in the way of sales, and then shock and a bit of that good old egg on the face type of embarrassment.

The book is about a man, named Cormoran Strike,  who, after losing a leg in a land mine in Afghanistan, becomes a private investigator, except, he’s not doing so good.  He’s got one client, piles of bills are due, he lives in his office and he’s just broken up with his girlfriend.  A potential client walks through the door and says his super model sister, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, fell to her death and that it was ruled as a suicide…, except, the brother doesn’t believe it.   Strike takes on the case, and from there is thrust into the world of, “multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.”

What do you think?  Does it sound remarkable?  Does it sound intriguing enough that you would buy the book?  

First of all, if it didn’t sound all that unique or stellar to you, you should know that several publisher’s turned it down.  One editor at Orion, Kate Mills, said, ““When the book came in, I thought it was perfectly good – it was certainly well written – but it didn’t stand out.  Strange as it might seem, that’s not quite enough. Editors have to fall in love with debuts. It’s very hard to **launch new authors and crime is a very crowded market.”

(**don’t we know.)

Finally, the book was picked up and published by Mulholland, a three year old imprint of Little, Brown.  It was treated like any other debut novel.  (not many prints run)  Good thing too, since the sales weren’t phenomenal.   I’m not even sure they were respectable, at something like 500 copies since it’s launch in April 2013.

(don’t get me wrong, if I ever get published, 500 sold would be WONDERFUL)

The book received critical acclaim from other crime writers, and good reviews from a variety of publications.  But someone, somewhere, felt the self assured, mature writing, “sparkling dialogue,” and confidence of this debut author were, well, suspicious.  Eventually, that someone decided to check or have it checked out, and what do you know.

It turns out that Robert Galbraith is the one and only J.K. Rowling.

Since this became known, actually this past weekend, the book’s sales have shot up, moving it to the best seller list.  And according to various articles, J.K. Rowling is feeling a bit of vindication on this book, after her first foray into the adult market with the tepid reviews of THE CASUAL VACANCY.  She stated that she wished she could have kept the secret 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.”

Honestly?  I wish it had been kept a secret longer too.  It would have been interesting to see how the sales would have done, say a year from now, without everyone knowing it was J.K.Rowling.  And then, if the publisher wanted, they could have shared who really wrote the book.

They’ve only proven what we already do know.  If you’ve been highly successful in publishing, it automatically turns your book into a bestseller overnight, and we didn’t need J.K. Rowling’s secret crime debut to show us that.



Here is the link I mentioned above in response to Harryipants…and you can read this whole thing if you want, but the computer linguistic expert article is towards the bottom:

Also, in regards to Harryipants comment on if she’d wanted to stay anonymous she could have… the reality is still the same, the sales weren’t great,and she has to face the facts regardless, don’t you think? 3 months of good reviews, but…,3 months of less than stellar sales. (this article mentions 1,500 hard copies, but another said 500, so who knows) It really doesn’t matter people are buying it now…because she still has to realize her book wasn’t doing so well before her real name was associated to it.


I wonder why she submitted that way. She certainly does not have to prove anything in regards to her writing. Funny how one of the most famous and successful writers still has to keep on keepin’ on. I think I’d hit a hammock in Tahiti and write nothing but very opinionated pieces just to piss people off.


    I totally agree Carolynn! If I would even bother to keep going, I would be taking advantage of the name fame and publishing under it!


      I think b/c the Casual Vacancy came out only about a year ago is what was up with the psuedonym. OR – maybe she wondered if she could write in that genre but with all the scrutiny of ANYTHING she puts out at this point, she decided to be incognito. I dunno…maybe she’ll tell about it one day.


    I’d be right alongside you in that hammock, see? Right over there, under the other tree, sippin’ on my umbrella drink, and blogging about life in paradise. I’d be so happy at that point (I think?) I wouldn’t give a flip about writing anything but fluffy feel good crap. 🙂


Does anyone really believe the “someone investigated it and found out” line?
If you think about this, it’s obviously not true.
Logically, by any traditional publisher’s accounting methods, the book had failed commercially. That first three months is when they sell if they’re going to. The reviews went out up to three months before that. After three months to generate hype, and another three of the book failing to sell, they were in the embarrassing position of Rowling’s foray into the biggest fiction genre in the industry, FAILING.
If someone ever did find out later, it would look very bad for her. But if they let people know after three months, with the pretty story they’ve spun, it seems possible to people who don’t understand the industry that the book may still have taken off.
And also, it guaranteed they’d sell millions of books, and everyone involved would make millions of dollars.
They lied.
If Rowling had really not wanted anyone to know, nobody would know. It couldn’t be simpler. Think about it. Only one other person would have to know, and that person sign a confidentiality agreement, and the secret dies with the two of them.
Sorry for ranting, but I really hate people being lied to.


    That definitely puts a unique twist on it – and it’s probably true. I’ve got to find the article I read (it was a couple/three days ago) and it said some writing analyst – or someone like that – was suspicious. I’ll see if I can find it and put the link out here…but either way, you bring out some VERY good points. It would be embarrassing – wouldn’t it???


I did glance a post on FB about this, but didn’t realize this was how it played out. Wow, what proof of how the system works. I too think it would’ve been cool to keep secret longer. Is it just me, or is it kind of telling of everyone who ran to get it after the cat was out of the bag, so to speak.


    That’s exactly it – whether out of curiosity or just plain fan enthrallment with her writing (which is fine), it seems everyone now wants it, simply b/c the real name has now been revealed. I can’t gripe – I did the same thing with Stephen King back when I read his stuff. I didn’t even have to know what the book was about…if it was Stephen King? I wanted it.


%d bloggers like this: