You probably missed it, but J.K. Rowling — the author of The Casual Vacancy and Harry Potter — published another book. Only she did it under a pseudonym for the explicit purpose of seeing how readers would react.
Rowling penned crime-fiction novel The Cuckoo’s Calling as unknown writer Robert Galbraith. Critics loved it, but it sold poorly. Then the publisher, Mulholland Books (an imprint of Little, Brown, and Company), revealed Galbraith’s identity, and the book quickly became a bestseller, with sales peaking 507,000 percent.
“I hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience!” Rowling said. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.”
She added, “And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances.”
Little, Brown, and Company is working on a reprint that states the connection between Galbraith and Rowling.
A writer at CNN pointed out that a more interesting case is that of Chuck Ross, who made publishers look like idiots when he retyped and submitted the novel Steps by Jerzy Kosinski only without the title and with his own byline. Most rejected it, for amusingly oblivious reasons.