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Former Royal Military Policeman turns out to be JK Rowling

Proving once and for all that nothing sells a book like a little showmanship and/or discovering that the author is one of the biggest sellers in the history of print, readers across the country are eagerly awaiting a reprint of Robert Galbraith’s debut novel The Cuckoo’s Calling following Galbraith’s admission to the Sunday Times at the weekend that he isn’t actually a former plain-clothes Royal Military Police investigator who had left the armed forces in 2003 to work in the civilian security industry but is in fact JK Rowling. JK Rowling, in case there was any doubt, is not some coincidentally initialled guy called James Kevin Rowling or something but is definitely the self-same author of the Harry Potter novels and The Casual Vacancy. In other news, this means my own theory that ‘Cormac McCarthy’ is just the pen name James Patterson uses when he wants to stretch his wings a little could still be in play.

The novel – initially published in April to kind reviews, many of which expressed surprise at such a high standard of writing from a debuting author – had sold only 1,500 hardcover copies before Sunday, according to publisher Little, Brown (which is of course its own story about how hard it is for even well-reviewed titles in highly marketable genres to make any kind of impact with the wider public). Since Rowling’s admission, the book has sold out nationwide, with Amazon’s movers and shakers section showing on Sunday that sales were up by a frankly preposterous 507,000% and booksellers eagerly awaiting a fresh printing.

The Sunday Times started to investigate Galbraith further after noticing he shared an agent, editor and publishing imprint with Rowling, and after every other problem in the world had been fully investigated, reported on and solved to their satisfaction, presumably. In a statement that offers a fairly clear explication of her motives, Rowling said ‘It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name’. A second Galbraith novel featuring investigator Cormoran Strike (which, ironically, sounds like far more of a fake name than Robert Galbraith) is expected to follow at some point next year.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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