Publisher Who Turned Down Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling


Kate Mills, publishing director of Orion books, turned down the mystery book of debuting author Robert Galbraith. Mills had gone through the pages of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ and didn’t find it worthy of production. Now, Mills regrets turning down J.K. Rowling. She may not have been the only one.

According to Mills the detective novel penned by an unknown first time author was “perfectly good”, “certainly well written” but “not something I fell in love with”. But Mills never knew it pseudonym’s true name. She believed it to be a detective novel submitted by some former military man calling himself Robert Galbraith.

At the end of day, Mills joked about it; “I can now say that I turned down J.K. Rowling,” she wrote on Twitter. “Anyone else going to confess?” The joke was on Kate Mills.

Mills and other publishers may be regretting their decision to turn down the novel after it was revealed that it was in fact written by J.K. Rowling, Britain’s most successful author. Fewer than 24 hours after the Harry Potter creator was unmasked, sales of the book rose by 415,000 percent on Amazon. From selling only 1,500 hardback copies in May, the novel was, catapulted from number 4,159 on the website’s fiction bestseller list to the No. 1 spot.

“Strange as it might seem, that’s not quite enough. Editors have to fall in love with debuts. It’s very hard to launch new authors and crime is a very crowded market,” Mills revealed. “Orion has a very strong crime list so we are very selective.”

Publisher Reagan Arthur said in a statement that they will be reprinting The Cuckoo’s Calling, about a war veteran-turned-private investigator Cormoran Strike looking into the death of a supermodel, Lula, with a revised author biography that reads, “Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.”

Interestingly back in 1996, Rowling had to name herself as J.K. Rowling to publish Harry Potter books because publishers thought a female name on the cover may not have encouraged interest among young boys. And now history repeated itself in different way, Rowling used a pseudonym to mask herself as a new author. The publishers continued the trend of turning down her books, even if they are literary jewels.

No one completely stepped forward, although Jeremy Trevathan, at Macmillian, replied saying that “The prosthetic leg” of the novel’s hero, an Afghanistan war veteran, worried him.

It is unknown whether Trevathan considered the book but Mills said; “I’ve had a message today that would suggest I am not alone.”

Little Brown, the book’s publishers, are issuing a reprint ‘immediately,’ a spokesman said. But it may not be enough to satisfy the demand. By yesterday afternoon the paperback version had risen 227,510 per cent on Amazon to occupy the No. 2 spot behind its hardback brother.

“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience,” Rowling said in a statement to the London’s Sunday Times. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

 Rowling added, “The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown, who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realizing that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel.”

The second Cormoran Strike book, which is already written, will be published next year. And now the publisher or publishers who turned down debuting Robert Galbraith have no part in its success. They have to wait and watch how The Cuckoo’s Calling continues to be a major success. They are simply cajoled by the cuckoo’s calling.

Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul

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