The Cuckoo’s Calling is a great detective story.
Robert Galbraith published it to strong reviews, with an initial modest run of 500 to 1500 copies, depending on the source. The publishing house that took a risk with an unknown author has been well rewarded. Since the true identity has been revealed, the book has become a bestseller.
The last line , “I am become a name,” makes me think Rowling was delighting in assuming a new identity as much as she was reveling in creating a new character.
As a writer, publisher, and editor, the thing that I find both reassuring and depressing about l'affaire Galbraith is that it showed just how difficult it is -- even with a very good, very well reviewed book -- actually to get yourself a best-seller, unless you have a lot of luck or the kind of platform that J.K. Rowling has, and that very few other authors could even dream of. The Cuckoo's Calling was published by a first-rate commercial publisher, was given excellent press, had a great response from both professional reviewers and folks on sites like Goodreads -- and was sitting at an Amazon ranking of about 5,000 on the day that the news of Rowling's authorship broke. At a guess, I'd say that a ranking like that indicates daily sales through America's various commercial booksellers of about ten copies a day. Definitely respectable, but not leaping off of the shelves by anyone's measure. David Kudler at the Huffington Post
Rowling's adventures in publishing are as interesting as the novels themselves. The riches brought by the Harry Potter series; the assured success of The Casual Vacancy, and the outing of The Cuckoo’s Calling. What else does this literary magician have up her sleeve?