July 15, 2013

Why would anyone expose J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym?


Who could have any reason to expose Rowling?

News broke this past weekend that J.K. Rowling, author of a popular series of books about adults murdering children with tiny sticks, is also the author of a recent pseudonymous crime novel.

Since the Sunday Times reported the story The Cuckoo’s Calling, published under the name Robert Galbraith, has climbed to #1 on Amazon’s listings and quickly sold out of bookstores.

The novel was purportedly sold to publishers Sphere Books in the U.K. and fellow Little, Brown imprint Mulholland in the U.S. without Rowling’s name attached, though it was handled by Zoe King, Rowling’s agent at the Blair Partnership, and was given a lush hardcover treatment, remarkable for a debut crime novel. The book earned favorable reviews, with more than one critic mentioning the book’s remarkable polish for a first novel. Before Rowling’s authorship became public, however, the book had sold about as well as debut hardcover crime fiction tends to.

The Sunday TimesRichard Brooks was tipped off to Galbraith’s identity by an anonymous tweet, and that conversation has since been deleted. 

The real mystery now is who could possibly have blown Rowling’s cover. “I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer,” Rowling wrote to the Times “because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience.”

“It truly is motiveless,” said Mulholland Books Executive Editor Joshua Kendall when we got in touch on Sunday. “I can’t figure out who would want this information to leak. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a few apartment open houses to get to.”

“I’m baffled,” wrote Rowling’s publicist Nicky Stonehill in answer to our emails. “It’s not as if anyone stood to benefit from this. And sorry to not have gotten back to you sooner. The service is spotty in this yacht sometimes.”

“Why would anyone do this?” asked booksellers across the globe in unison, shrugging their shoulders dramatically before rubbing their palms together and cackling with cartoonish glee.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.