Around 2012, long after Harry Potter had made her a household name, JK Rowling wanted to have a bash at getting a new novel published “without hype or expectation.”
After writing The Cuckoo’s Calling, she selected the pen name Robert Galbraith before sending the completed manuscript to publishers.
Having received a string of rejections for her Harry Potter book back in the 90s, getting similar responses for this “new” author’s debut crime novel presumably didn’t come as too much of a surprise to the experienced Rowling.
Eventually the work was picked up by Little, Brown Book Group and published in 2013. Almost as soon as the book hit stores, the Sunday Times newspaper exposed Rowling as the book’s author after using computer software to analyze the writing style.
Over the weekend, the British author decided to tweet two of the rejection letters to her seven million followers in the hope of inspiring budding writers attempting to pen their first masterpiece.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) March 25, 2016
One of the rejections came from publisher Constable & Robinson, which said it “could not publish [her book] with commercial success.”
The letter advises the author to “double check in a helpful bookshop or on Amazon” to get a better idea of publishers that might be interested in the work, and even tells “Galbraith” to look into joining a writers group or course to have the work looked over by other writing enthusiasts.
Another rejection letter, this time from publishing house Creme de la Crime, said simply that it wasn’t accepting new submissions at the moment, a decision that must surely have hurt the company when it discovered the true identity of the writer. However, it must have been even more painful for the unnamed publishing house that Rowling said had rejected not only The Cuckoo’s Calling, but also the first Potter book years earlier.
Asked by a follower how she stayed motivated in the face of rejection from publishers, Rowling tweeted, “I wasn’t going to give up until every single publisher turned me down, but I often feared that would happen.”
Another wanted to see some of her Harry Potter rejections, but she said they’re packed away somewhere in the attic.
The experience of writing under a pen name had been an enjoyable one, Rowling said at the time, though the truth about Galbraith’s true identity had come out a bit too soon for her liking.
“I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience,” Rowling said, adding, “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.”