Back in April, a crime novel from first-time author Robert Galbraith was published by a small department of Little, Brown & Co. called Sphere. That book, The Cuckoo's Calling, went on to only sell 1,500 copies over its run. But the reviews were amazing.
"In a rare feat, the pseudonymous Galbraith combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime in his stellar debut," wrote Publisher's Weekly. "Readers described it as complex, compelling and scintillating.... They said the book seemed almost too assured and sophisticated to be a first novel," said the New York Times. "This book is so well written that I suspect that some years down the road we will hear the author's name is a pseudonym of some famous writer," said an Amazon reviewer (seriously).
That famous writer? Harry Potter's J.K. Rowling, who managed to keep a secret her involvement with the book until an anonymous Twitter leak to the Sunday Times.
The story of how The Sunday Times uncovered the truth is an odd one that involves, as seems so often the case these days, Twitter. It started on Thursday, said Richard Brooks, the paper’s arts editor, after one of his colleagues happened to post a tweet mentioning that she had loved “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” and that it did not seem as if the book had been written by a novice.
“After midnight she got a tweet back from an anonymous person saying it’s not a first-time novel — it was written by J. K. Rowling,” Mr. Brooks said in an interview. “So my colleague tweeted back and said, ‘How do you know for sure?’ ”
The person replied, “I just know,” and then proceeded to delete all his (or her) tweets and to close down the Twitter account, Mr. Brooks said. “All traces of this person had been taken off, and we couldn’t find his name again.”
Even if that anonymous Twitter leak was a marketing play by Rowling or her publisher, this story is very unexpected—the restraint from everyone involved is fucking unheard-of nowadays. Rowling is easily the world's most successful and famous living writer. Imagine if Steven Spielberg directed, like, The Hangover III, and he just fessed up to his involvement today. (Which might be a bad example.)
Anyway, rest in peace to Robert Galbraith. You had a pretty funny fake bio.
After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. 'Robert Galbraith' is a pseudonym.