Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Would you call Rowling’s experiment a success?

Did you know that JK Rowling published a crime novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling under a pen name?

Yeah, probably everybody already knew that but me.

Anyway, Nathan Bransford has an interesting post about that. Apparently it got picked up by a big publisher, got good reviews . . . and didn’t sell. Just another nice “debut” novel that vanished without a trace.

I imagine it’s selling much better now that the author’s real name is known.

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3 Comments Would you call Rowling’s experiment a success?

  1. Craig

    Huh. I hadn’t heard.

    In a sense, the experiment was clearly a success : she got useful data. (Well, “datum,” really, which is what makes it of dubious value as an experiment.)

  2. Elaine t

    i only found out when it hit the nets. I think it would have been interesting if she hadn’t been discovered for longer – to see if the book found an audience by word of mouth. With just three months between publication and the author’s outing as Rowling we can’t really tell.

    On another hand, it shows that a book can have great reviews, and not take off like a rocket. I wonder how much the publisher tried to push it.

    it also reminded me of the time – about a year ago? -when famous violinist Joshua Bell played in the subway to see how people reacted. Most didn’t stop or seem to notice his quality. (I also wondered skeptically about Florand’s unnamed violinist’s quality being recognized in TCK. However, it’s not exactly a realistic book.)

  3. Rachel

    I bet the publisher didn’t push it at all — because they knew sales would increase by a billion percent as soon as the truth came out, so why bother?

    Which is fine, because how many debut novels get pushed? I think it’s sales were pretty much okay for a debut novel that was not getting a ton of attention from the publisher. You know what would have been really interesting? If no one had figured it out until she’d published, say, three books under that name. I wonder if she might have grown a new readership successfully?

    But I bet she was pleased by the good reviews she got before she got outed.

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