Jul 13 2013 10:36pm

J. K. Rowling’s Latest Book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Currently Released Under a Pseudonym!

Cuckoos Calling by J. K. Rowling / Robert GalbraithJ. K. Rowling has released a detective novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. According to The Leaky Cauldron, the book has had modest sales (1500 copies in three months) but has garnered excellent reviews and was touted as a brilliant “debut novel.”

She told the Sunday Times of London, “I had hoped to keep this secret a little 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.”

The book synopsis:

Cuckoos Calling by J. K. Rowling / Robert Galbraith

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to 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.

There will be a new Galbraith novel next year.

Chris Meadows
1. Robotech_Master

From the "About the Author" listing on Amazon:

"After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. 'Robert Galbraith' is a pseudonym."

Well, at least one thing in that "About the Author" was true.
Sharat Buddhavarapu
2. spinfuzz
I guess that when I see that Max Brooks' Amazon Bio looks likes this:
The New York Times bestselling author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, Max Brooks has been called "the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism." He lives in New York City but is ready to move to a more remote and defensible location at a moment's notice. Max Brooks's The Zombie Survival Guide formed the core of the world's civilian survival manuals during the Zombie War. Mr. Brooks subsequently spent years traveling to every part of the globe in order to conduct the face-to-face interviews that have been incorporated into World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.
I can't really see the trouble with Robert Galbraith's fictitious biography, as long as it is clearly marked so, and it is.
Chris Meadows
3. Robotech_Master
The thing is, we know that there wasn't a zombie war, so Brooks's bio isn't plausible. But there's nothing about "Galbraith's" biography that's marked as fictitious except the fact that "he" writes under a false name. I know if I saw it without knowing he was Rowling I'd probably assume all of it except the name to be true.
4. Trident
But what would be the point of making the fictitious bio of a pseudonym more in line with reality. Actually, the could claim Galbriath is a space ship commander or a road worker, it would make no difference. The whole point of a pseudonym is that not all and sundry should be able to guess the truth. As such Galbriath's fictitious bio served well enough, didn't it?
Michael Grosberg
5. Michael_GR
You have to admire Rowling for escaping the George Lucas trap. It would have been so easy to just sit and churn out endless sequels, prequels and tie-ins. Instead she's following her creative instinct and writes completely different novels. I have to admit I didn't quite warm up to The Casual Vacancy but I'll certainly try this one.
Valentin M
6. ValMar
I didn't know it was legal to write such elaborate lies about the author.

@ 2

The biography wasn't marked as fiction, only the author's name. And given the made-up background the reader would assume that the main reason for using a pseudonym is because of his work in the security services.

Personally, what JKR says about it being liberating experience sounds reasonable. OTOH, given the subject matter of the story, the use of a man's name and the elaborate fiction of his biography suggest a financial motive in the choice.
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
Oh man I would have liked to be a fly on the wall in those marketing & sales meetings.
Michael Grosberg
8. Michael_GR
@6 - I wonder what you'd make out of the author biography for Pittacus Lore, "author" of I am Number Four:
Pittacus Lore is Lorien's ruling Elder. He has been on Earth for the last twelve years, preparing for the war that will decide Earth's fate. His whereabouts are unknown.
G. D. B. (not Ambrose Bierce)
9. SchuylerH
It reminds me of Stephen King and Richard Bachman.
Valentin M
10. ValMar
@ 8

I'd react with a chuckle and shake of the head.
About Mr Galbraith I would've thought: "well this guy must know what he's writing about, perhaps I should check him out".

I tend to be cynical too often, though I try not to be. But regarding authors' mini-bios on book sleeves, I never imagined that they can be fabricated completely. It's not a huge thing but it is disappointing. It's cynical lying to the reader.
11. Maac
I have to agree with ValMar. The problem with the Galbraith bio is that it is 1. plausible and 2. lends that plausible authority to the writing. Nobody even slightly savvy is going to take zombie wars and Elders of the World seriously -- it will be interpreted as a joke, where the Galbraith bio will be interpreted as authority over the content of the novel.

I'm not too bothered about it as I believe Ms. Rowling and her publishing team fully expected the truth about her psuedonym to come out sooner rather than later (Graham Joyce did something similar, but the psuedonym -- and accompanying humorous LiveJournal -- were never kept secret; the book was marketed as a false autobiography from the start), but I don't like the precedent. Such a bio employed by some other less-well-known author would not be likely to make a bad book sell better (if the book is bad), even with the feigned expertise, but it would be worse for such an author's reputation should the truth come out, unless readers could be convinced that it was indeed all for a humorous ruse.
Chris Meadows
12. Robotech_Master
Of course, when you get right down to it, the fact that she uses a male pseudonym also lends authority to the writing. I'm not too bothered about that. Or, really, I'm more bothered that our culture makes it necessary to pretend to be male when writing these kinds of works to have more authority. Puts me in mind of Kristine Kathryn Rusch's story about the time she wrote a story about a black male detective during the civil rights era and she got big offers for it, right until it came out she wasn't black, male, or old enough to have been in the civil rights movment.

(J.K. Rowling is no stranger to pretending to be male, of course; that's why she went by her initials on the Harry Potter books.)
15. bookworm1398
My assumption was she did this to avoid a repeat of the Cuckoo's Calling fiasco. If the book had not suceeded, we would never hear anything furthur about Robert Galbraith. Since it did well and got into the top 100, we got the big reveal.

I do admire that she keeps trying different styles of books.
Tom Smith
16. phuzz
Claiming (falsely) that you were in the military has to be one of the most common lies people tell about themselves, so I don't know if I'd have belived absolutely everything in that bio.
That said, an author is someone who writes lies for money, what else were you expecting ;)
Mark Cook
17. CapeMonkey
If money was the motivating factor, she'd have used her own name.
Beccy Higman
18. Jazzlet
@ CapeMonkey I agree. Anybody who seriously thinks she would have made less money publishing the book as JK Rowling, even given the variable reception of The Casual Vacancy, simply doesn't appreciate the hope many fans will feel that at some point she will return to writing Potteresque books.
19. BrokenImages
I wonder if there have ever been male writers publishing books under female pseudonyms?
Andrew Mason
20. AnotherAndrew
BrokenImages: Certainly in romance. In poetry, Fiona Macleod. I'm fairly sure there have been examples in other prose genres, but I can't think of any names right now

I thought at first that 1500 copies was strikingly small, but then I realised this was in hardback. Can anyone tell me (a) how well crime novels normally sell in hardback, and (b) how common it is for crime novels to be published in hardback at all?
Timothy Sherburn
21. Wickerman
I was going through the Tor website when this thread on The Cuckoo's Calling came up. Having collected her books for years, I immediately started searching the web for a first edition of the book for my collection. Because of the late hour( after 9 on the West Coast), I was actually able to find a copy at Goldsboro Books in London. It's even supposed to be signed!!! Thank you, Tor for the timely reporting, and thank you Goldsboro for selling me the book at the listed price!!!
22. Rick Carufel
I'm having fun with this; I googled the story and am going to the different sites and posting a link to the Amazon book. This not only show it's a lie but how no research was done into the story other than parrot a press release. Took me less than a minute to prove it a fabrication. That means not even that much time was spent to verify the story by the press before reporting it. Absolutely disgusting and pathetic on all counts.
Note the Date of April 30th, the day of release the publisher clearly identifies Rowling as the author. So how could the lawyer's wife have let the cat out of the bag a few days ago?

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