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Old 16 July 2013, 10:43 AM
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Default JK Rowling revealed as author of The Cuckoo's Calling

Quote:
JK Rowling has secretly written a crime novel under the guise of male debut writer Robert Galbraith.

The Harry Potter author was acclaimed for The Cuckoo's Calling, about a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike.

The book had sold 1,500 copies before the secret emerged in the Sunday Times. Within hours, it rose more than 5,000 places to top Amazon's sales list.

Rowling said she had "hoped to keep this secret a little longer".
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23304181

This article is two days old, but I hadn't seen it posted. I hadn't read it (I don't read crime novels, not because I don't like them but I have my genre and stick to it). I always thought she should write crime novels!
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Old 16 July 2013, 01:42 PM
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After reading this story yesterday, just for the heck of it, I tried to reserve the book at the Columbus metro library. There were 411 requests ahead of me. I canceled mine.
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Old 16 July 2013, 08:50 PM
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So maybe this proves something that some of us proved in high school. The lesson learned - reputation is a huge factor in evaluating the "quality" of fiction writing. How we proved it - two students switched their names on submitted work and the "C" student still got a C for submitting the "A" student's work, and vice-versa.

Having sold only 1500 copies before this announcement, it just goes to show that a book is often judged by its cover.
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Old 16 July 2013, 09:01 PM
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Didn't that prove only that reputation is a huge factor for one particular teacher in evaluating the "quality" of fiction writing?
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Old 16 July 2013, 09:10 PM
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Rowling being revealed as the author has certainly lead to more attention to the book, but that doesn't necessarily mean that those who actually read it like it more because of the author. It's not a surprise to me that many people base their choice of what to read next in part because on the author, especially when it is one of their favorite authors versus someone they've never heard of.
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Old 16 July 2013, 09:13 PM
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IMU that before Rowling was revealed as the author, the book was receiving a far more favorable critical reception than her first post-HP novel, written under her own name.
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Old 16 July 2013, 10:58 PM
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Selling 1500 copies doesn't tell us anything about how well it was received. It says nothing about anything except that it's hard for unknown authors to sell books. (It seems to me 1500 isn't all that bad either.)
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Old 17 July 2013, 12:35 AM
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The book was well-reviewed but only by a very small number of people. What was it - less than 100? These were "public" reviews too - public opinion and popularity is much different from critical review. The public may enjoy and find popular, books which are poorly reviewed by "critics". Then again, even a bit of good critical review would increase popularity. That hasn't happened yet, and now any "objective" review of the book is unlikely because of the fame of the author. If the book was really good, its sales and notoriety would have spread by word of mouth, book clubs, and so on, while its author was still anonymous. I haven't read the book, but like so many others, I'm going to have a pre-conceived notion of it because of the author's notoriety. Others may have that same notion based on her first post-HP novel and its poor reception. However, the genie is out of the bottle and can't go back in. Only people who haven't heard this news will possibly be able to view it objectively. I even think it'd be hard for a professional literary critic to do that because of the enormity of reputation here. Things couldn't help but go downhill for Truman Capote after "In Cold Blood".

This isn't me saying that Rowling is a talentless hack. This is me saying that perhaps she's very good at one specific thing - that writing in a certain genre, even for a certain audience, is her talent. Shakespeare wrote romance and tragedy and comedy, but I doubt that he could write a "thriller" as well as Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum - nor should he be judged harshly for that.
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Old 17 July 2013, 12:38 AM
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The book received praise from crime fiction big names Val Mcdermid and Mark Billingham prior to the reveal. The reviews from buyers on Amazon were also overwhelmingly positive.

ETA: it's a bit hard to judge how successful this series might have been if the true author had never been revealed. While I have no doubt that her name lends more publicity than Robert Galbraith could ever have hoped to achieved on 'his' own, I think it's fair to say that the publicity had to be toned down more than if 'he' was just another new author precisely because of who the author was. She couldn't really do public appearances, not even if she wore fake moustaches every time. The publisher may have also wanted to keep it low-key to avoid suspicion.

Last edited by Blatherskite; 17 July 2013 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 17 July 2013, 12:45 AM
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The OP article cites two other crime writers who praised the book.
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Old 17 July 2013, 12:56 AM
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For those who think the book was a dud until the "reveal" it might be worth finding out whether your local public library has the book and when it was ordered. At my library there are 9 copies of the book in circulation. That means this book was ordered months ago. Speaking as a librarian I can pretty much guarantee that there is no possible way this book could have been ordered, processed and be out on the shelves all since the truth of the authorship came out.
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Old 17 July 2013, 01:05 AM
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When was it actually published? (In hardback I assume?) 1,500 copies would easily sell out the first print run of most hardbacks by new authors, surely? How many were printed and how long did it take to sell these copies before people found out that JK Rowling wrote it?

I'm not really much of a fan of hers in terms of Harry Potter - I've not read A Casual Vacancy yet - but the initial sales and reviews of this book seem like a decent result for any new author to me.

(When I say I'm not much of a fan, I think that they're reasonably entertaining children's books which inexplicably became a massive international phenomenon, thus scaring anybody away from editing the later works, and putting her under enough pressure that it's impressive she managed to finish the series at all. I still wonder exactly how it came to be that I even read them all... I certainly wouldn't have if not for the hype. I might not have read the last few except that at least one of them was a present from somebody who was surprised I'd not already got it, and it seemed silly not to read the last book just to prove a point - I waited for the paperback. Even though I could have bought a hardback copy on release in Beijing, or Ulaan Bataar. Or a bootleg paperback copy, in a choice of US or UK covers, from a street stall in Beijing within a few days of the release date.)

Last edited by Richard W; 17 July 2013 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 17 July 2013, 12:38 PM
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1500 copies is actually quite respectable for an unknown author. Books that sell hundreds of thousands, or millions, of copies are the exception not the norm.
Quote:
The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime. And very few titles are big sellers.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bj-gal...b_1394159.html

That's non-fiction, so here's a fiction ref: The average book in America sells about 500 copies. (Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006).
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Old 17 July 2013, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
When was it actually published? (In hardback I assume?) 1,500 copies would easily sell out the first print run of most hardbacks by new authors, surely? How many were printed and how long did it take to sell these copies before people found out that JK Rowling wrote it?
It actually sold less than 500, 1500 copies were made. It was published on 18th April.
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Old 17 July 2013, 08:51 PM
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OK, so that's probably fairly average then... which I suppose is what I'd expect, since I think she's a fairly average writer.
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Old 17 July 2013, 09:39 PM
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So this pretty much supports my theory - if the book was really good, it would have sold more copies already. At the very least it would have sold out that first print run of 1500 copies.

Have big-time authors had notable flops when published under their own names? I'm pretty sure that even the John Grisham's and Piers Anthony's have weaker efforts - but selling only, say, 1500 copies when your previous books have sold tens of thousands, would look like a flop to me.
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Old 17 July 2013, 10:01 PM
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On the other hand, she was probably more concerned with getting some "honest" reviews than with sales, at this point. It didn't really get time to be a slow burner - although it doesn't seem as though it would have been anyway.

I wonder how the story got out? The professor who did the textual analysis is from my old college - he specialises in this stuff:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23313074

But he was asked to do this by a newspaper which already "had suspicions", so those suspicions had to come from somewhere. It seems a little unlikely, although possible, that somebody would have read the book, randomly thought "this style seems exactly like JK Rowling's to me" and therefore tipped off a newspaper to employ an investigator to check, rather than just commenting that the writer had a style rather like JK Rowling's. Especially since her style doesn't seem very distinctive. (I have no doubt that a formal textual analysis can spot it, but it doesn't particularly stand out to me on a casual reading.)
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Old 17 July 2013, 10:30 PM
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I think her style of character naming might be reasonably distinctive. What would give it away for me would have been if, every time there was a lot of something countable, it turned out there were 'about a hundred'.
More seriously, there are online text analysis tools that will tell you if an author is more likely to be male or female, and I'm pretty sure there was also one I saw once that told you 'who you wrote like'.
I can easily imagine someone thinking something like, the plot is a bit thin but the pace really keeps me reading, it almost reminds me of another writer..' and worrying away at it until they thought they had it, then tipping off a paper to research further.
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Old 17 July 2013, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moku View Post
I think her style of character naming might be reasonably distinctive.
In Harry Potter it is. I've not read The Casual Vacancy to know whether that carries over.

To contrast with Richard Bachman / Stephen King, who was also "outed":

a) I'd say that King had a more distinctive style than Rowling, although obviously this is subjective so I wouldn't argue it too hard,
b) Bachman and King were writing in the same genre, and
c) Bachman had published several books, and achieved reasonable success in his own right, before he was outed as King.

Point c) could be simply because, these days, nobody would get that opportunity any more. But I think point b) is reasonable. Why would somebody be looking at a random murder mystery and wondering if it was by JK Rowling?

OK, perhaps the characters are all called things like "Umbrus Homicidia" and "Daisy Durberville" and "Arthur Hatsworthy"... that might indeed give it away.
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Old 17 July 2013, 11:19 PM
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I remember explaining to DD how I knew Remus Lupin was a werewolf as soon as he showed up in the story.
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