Over the weekend, the big news in the literary world was the “discovery” that “new” author Robert Galbraith was in reality J K Rowling writing under a male pseudonym. The English newspaper The Sunday Times claim that they put some clues together and figured out Rowling’s scam. But did they really? Or was J K Rowling exposed for profit because her little crime venture wasn’t making enough money?
It may seem a bit cynical, but if you look at some more clues, more than the paper had apparently, it does seem to lead to the conclusion that Little, Brown & Co, or someone else, may have “leaked” the information in order to increase sales figures on Galbraith’s book The Cuckoo’s Calling.
When the story broke on Sunday, the Times revealed that they’d received an “anonymous” tweet that made them look more closely at the new crime novel. They then investigated and found out that Galbraith, a retired member of the Special Investigative Branch of the Royal Military Police according to his author’s bio, shared the Harry Potter author’s agent, editor and publisher. The three areas that she’d only recently used to published her other grownup book, The Casual Vacancy with.
According to The Sunday Times Richard Brooks, who is an editor for the paper, then submitted the book to computer analysis performed by two “experts” who found similar writing styles to Rowling’s other books. Brooks took his “evidence” to Rowling’s rep and she confessed.
Rowling expressed a little sadness that her secret had come to light and said in a statement that, “I 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 from publishers and readers under a different name.”
But cynicism is a stubborn beast, despite the innocent overtures of Rowling’s attempt at writing as another person, the mind keeps going back to that anonymous tweet. Was it really anonymous? Or was it really from Brown & Co or someone else in the money making arena who made a deliberate gesture to increase the sales figures of the “debut” crime novel for profit?
Take into account that Waterstones the book retailers who carried Robert Galbraith’s new book The Cuckoo’s Calling related that once the news got out that Rowling had penned the book, the novels flew off the store’s shelves in minutes. Of course Waterstones also said that there were not many of the books available with the statement that there were only a “handful” scattered around the retail outlets in the country.
We do not believe for one moment that the author herself instigated the “reveal.” Rowling is a brilliant writer who has entertained millions with her books. She has made the move from popular children’s author to the world of “grownup” fiction in a move that seems effortless. Her desire to tackle the crime genre under an assumed male name follows a literary tradition that has existed since the Bronte sisters published their works under men’s names.
No it is not Rowling that we suspect of exposing the real name of Robert Galbraith, but someone in her “circle of trust.” It is that damned anonymous tweet. If Rowling was in earnest about trying her hand at the crime genre “incognito” we believe that she would have told very few people.
Secrets are only secrets if you don’t tell anyone.
But in the world of business it is imperative to tell the people that you work with; like publishers, agents, publicists. et al. Taking into account that someone, allegedly, tweeted The Sunday Times with the titillating information that Galbraith was not all he was cracked up to be, combined with the “actions” of the newspaper in their own sleuthing it begins to look less like a real uncovering and more like an “orchestrated” event.
J K Rowling is a best selling author. Robert Galbraith was a new player to the world of literature. It often takes a bit of time for the public to warm to a new author and it could be that the publishers didn’t want to keep selling “small handfuls” of The Cuckoo’s Calling for very long.
Regardless of who sent the tweet to the English paper, J K Rowling should probably review just who she’s included in her ‘circle.” Because it does look suspiciously like someone exposed her secret for profit.
By Michael Smith