My Name Is Mightier Than Yours
When I heard the news about the recent JK Rowling’s pseudonym exposé, I have to admit, I was a little bit annoyed. At first I wondered why she bothered going through the motions when she is already an established author, but I guess it might have been the only way she felt she could write something different (crime fiction) and not get judged as a writer of middle grade fantasy fiction. I have no problem with this base idea; many established writers feel the need to write under pseudonyms, e.g. Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) and Madeleine Wickham (as Sophie Kinsella). I think what annoyed me was the speed at which everything turned around. Sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling catapulted from 1,500 copies over a few months to thousands in a few hours. The book reportedly jumped over 500,000% in ranking on Amazon alone! Unbelievable, right?
For JK Rowling’s fans, and I guess readers in general, this revelation is fantastic news. A new book released by a really good author (yes, I read and enjoyed all of the Harry Potter books), and so soon after the publication of another of her books (The Casual Vacancy). Brilliant! Let’s all head to our book shops/online retailers and see what other marvels Rowling has conjured. Reviews even before the revelation were good so I am sure the book is worthy of recognition. What bugged me as a writer was that no one seems to have spared a thought for Mr Galbraith. If he truly existed, he would have poured his blood and sweat into producing this work, deemed it satisfactory enough to send out to publishers/agents, been rejected a few times (fact!), finally found a publisher and gone on to have poor sales. He might eventually have felt dejected enough to pursue another career if sales weren’t putting food on the table. The typical tale of thousands of new authors. Sad, but very true.
It’s no wonder writers rush to collaborate with world renowned authors like James Patterson (seriously, how many books can one man “co-write” in a year?). They recognise that, as a species, we are all a little shallow and will jump at anything anyone famous puts out. Why go through the pains of building your readership slowly (maybe even never), if you can get the same accolade by linking your name to a superstar? Okay, maybe I’m just a little jealous. Like Mr Galbraith, I would love to be outed as…I don’t know, Stephanie Myer or someone similarly popular, then sit back and watch sales of my books soar. Ah, bliss! But for now, I’ll try to swallow my annoyance any time the book cover pops up on my screen and focus on finishing my next book. Who knows, I might get a call from Mr Patterson’s people tomorrow and I need to be prepared.