The J.K. Rowling – Robert Galbraith Scandal
I have renewed admiration for J.K. Rowling after I learned of her recent flirtation with a guy named Robert Galbraith.
For those who have not heard of the incident, a detective novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling was released by purportedly “first-time author” Robert Galbraith in 2012. It received no special promotion or advertising from its publisher, few noteworthy reviews in famous outlets, and sold a paltry 1,500 copies. Although plans were announced for a follow-up to the novel, this book caused barely a ripple in the literary landscape.
Then came the rumors that Robert Galbraith was a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.
Apparently, the wife of a lawyer for the publisher of the book had gotten wind of Galbraith’s identity and let the secret slip in a careless Twitter post. It was noted that Rowling and Galbraith shared the same agent and editor. Sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling sky-rocked 4,000 percent after J.K. Rowling admitted authorship, and the book remains at the top of all the best-seller charts.
Rowling claimed to be heart-broken about the public outing of her pseudonym. She was appalled that a woman she had never met felt free to blow her cover, especially after Rowling had been carefully guarding the secret from most of her friends and family. She stated she wanted to write a novel without the ghost of Harry Potter hovering over everyone’s perception of the book. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name,” she said about her fleeting months of anonymity before her cover was blown.
The obscurity she craved is gone, but I am fascinated by this story. As a new author who is struggling to get gain in a foothold in the publishing world, I truly admire Rowling for going back to the starting line and trying to see if she could make a name for herself without the advertising, excitement, and general hoopla that would automatically attach itself to any project released under her name.
I’m also secretly thrilled that even J.K. Rowling had such modest sales for her pseudonymous book. I expect it gives all struggling writers a bit of guilty pleasure. Writing a novel is hard. Getting attention, acclaim, and decent sales figures is harder, and it was nice to know that J.K. Rowling, if only for a fleeting moment, was among our ranks.