How JK Rowling laboured to forge her new identity Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo's Calling

‘Outed’ Harry Potter creator worked for days to sign crime novel under pen name

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The Independent Culture

Author JK Rowling has revealed that she spent days developing a fake autograph so she could sign copies of her book The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Rowling confirmed today that she signed “a few” copies of the crime novel under the pen name at the request of her publisher. At least one copy of the detective story has since been sold on eBay for more than £2,500 after it was revealed that the Harry Potter creator was the true author.

On a website set up for Galbraith, she wrote: “While we can’t verify whether any particular book currently on eBay etc is genuine, any future books I sign in this way will be authenticated.

“My Robert Galbraith signature is distinctive and consistent; I spent a weekend practising to make sure.”

Rowling also revealed that she had offers from television to bring The Cuckoo’s Calling to the screen even before she was “outed” almost two weeks ago, and that the book was gathering interest and had sold quite well under Galbraith’s name. But she said it was becoming “increasingly complicated” to keep the charade going. “At the point I was ‘outed’, Robert had sold 8,500 English language copies across all formats (hardback, eBook, library and audiobook) and received two offers from television.

“Robert [a former member of the Military Police] was doing rather better than we had expected him to, but we all still hoped to keep the secret a little longer,” she said.

“Yet Robert’s success during his first three months as a published writer (discounting sales made after I was found out) actually compares favourably with JK Rowling’s success over the equivalent period of her career.”

Rowling also reiterated that her exposure was not part of a clever marketing campaign and she went to great lengths to continue under the guise.

“If anyone had seen the labyrinthine plans I laid to conceal my identity (or indeed my expression when I realised that the game was up), they would realise how little I wanted to be discovered.”