JK Rowling has been revealed as the pseudonymous author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, a crime novel recently published under the name “Robert Galbraith”.
The book won near-universal praise from critics in April when it was released, with Publishers Weekly saying it combined “a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime” to make a “stellar debut”; readers on GoodReads.com call it “a mature, realistic take on an often-done genre” with “some of the most endearingly likeable characters in the genre”; and AustCrime said “There’s really only one problem with books as good as The Cuckoo’s Calling. Waiting for the next one in the series.”
Rowling was involuntarily unmasked as the real Galbraith, and told the Sunday Times that she would have liked to stay hidden for longer:
Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience… It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.
While the feedback is honest, so too are the sales. It’s a fantastic demonstration of the divide between the big names in publishing and the rest: thanks to all the praise, the book sold “more than 1,500 copies”. That’s slightly under one per cent of the number of copies of The Casual Vacancy shifted in its first week, and slightly over 0.05 per cent of the copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold in the first day.
Before the news broke last night, the book was ranked 4,709 on Amazon’s bestsellers listing; it is now number three. Unsurprisingly, that makes it the number one “mover and shaker” on the site, with a 156,866% increase in sales over just one day.
What’s the power in a name? Quite a lot, it seems.