Monday, July 15, 2013

J. K. Rowling's Crime Novel Rejected at First: Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The UK Telegraph reports, "Publishers have been left red-faced after discovering that they rejected the latest novel by J. K. Rowling, one of the world’s best-selling writers." Apparently, the Harry Potter author has written a crime novel under the penname Robert Galbraith, but despite her book, The Cuckoo's Calling, receiving good reviews while Rowling remained in anonymous, the novel hasn't been selling so well. Fewer than 500 copies had moved prior to the Rowling reveal, the paper says.

I believe Rowling when she says on her website that she wanted to keep the secret longer because, as we all know, "she doesn't need the money." But by now, in this digital age, we also know that it's hard out here for a book pimp. Publishing is first a business for profit. So, is it any surprise then that the Galbraith persona has been unmasked as industry phenom J. K. Rowling? The big reveal is a gift to Mulholland Books (Little, Brown and Company) sales.

Notwithstanding that conclusion, per the Telegraph, the Sunday Times "investigated" speculation that the unknown Galbraith had a writing style that seemed eerily similar to a certain famous female novelist. Uh-huh. Maybe, but I'd love to know who dropped that breadcrumb in the reporter's ear.

Rowling writes that being Galbraith has been "a liberating experience" for her:
It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name. The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realising that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel. And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances."
She's always had, as we know from the Potter series, a keen sense of humor.

Naturally, some editors have admitted that they rejected the book and feel just awful about it. The book, while written well, they declare, did not seem unique. Editors have to "fall in love" with the work of new novelists in order to buy their work. Publishing industry experts assert that point often.

Well, this Rowling news is worth a weakly raised eyebrow, if that, because writers who pay attention to the publishing industry know that this kind of thing--the rejection of perfectly acceptable books--happens all the time. Why should Rowling's experience under a fake name be any different from that of thousands of unknown writers everywhere who pursue that elusive bird, the traditional publishing contract? David Vinjamuri's article, "Publishing Is Broken . . .," will shed light on this topic, if you're unfamiliar with this aspect of publishing and its evolution.

1 comment:

Babz Rawls Ivy said...

This is why folks feel compelled to take publishing matters into their own hands... to be subject to this kind of bullshit...based on whatever suits someone on that day is crap.

She has proven herself to be a great writer. But then she encounters bullshit that can make or break a writer is messed up!

Kudos for Ms Rowling for being the consumate humanitarian!