Why I don’t think J K Rowling’s unmasking was part of the marketing plan for The Cuckoo’s Calling

July 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

So, this happened.

J.K. Rowling

In the early hours of the story, there’s been some speculation that it was the publisher who leaked the author’s true identity.

I think that’s nonsense.

First of all, The Cuckoo’s Calling was released at the end of April. If it’s a deliberate leak designed to miraculously turn a flop into a smash hit, it’s late. The book has lost its front of store placement, if it ever had it, and stores were about to start returning copies to the publisher anytime now. Never mind that if you’re the publisher of J K Rowling’s pseudonymous mystery novel (Mulholland Books, a member of the Little Brown group of publishers, responsible for Rowling’s first non-Potter book, last year’s The Casual Vacancy) you’ve been dying to play this card since you paid the advance, and what’s held you back is that it’s the most powerful author in the world who’d rather you didn’t.

If the leak of Robert Galbraith’s true identity was deliberate, it should have happened the week before TCC was released. This would ensure that all bookstores would blow easily through their initial buy (and stores that had passed would have a chance to get a late order in) and the reprint (or overstock, cannily held by the publisher) could be rushed to stores while the story simmered. Come May, millions of copies sold. Slam dunk.

Instead, it’s Saturday night nearly 90 days after the book landed in stores; not where you’d put your pin in the calendar if you were being strategic. We’ll soon see just how much stock was sitting in the publisher’s warehouse as bookstores experience a flash stockout over the next 48 hours, but I think this is going to be another case of the wide availability and infinite supply of ebooks picking up a portion of the slack while the physical supply chain scrambles to catch up. That means customers will go home from stores empty handed, and only a fraction will get the ebook instead or come back later for the hardcover or paperback. If the objective of the leak is to sell as many copies as possible, this timing won’t likely achieve that. Unless Rowling herself laid out this plan and baked it into her contract, I can’t see a publisher coming up with it.

I think Rowling was sincerely trying to get out from under the weight of her name, having seen the Potter-blinded reaction that greeted TCV last fall.

If there’s one thing that gives me pause, it’s the ease with which the Telegraph appears to have gotten this quote from her:

“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

I guess we’ll find out something near the truth in the coming days.

#2 joins the ranks of the bipedal

May 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

While his brother chose his Polish great grandmother’s house for his 2-footed debut, E opted for grandma’s house in Ancaster.


Some quick thoughts on how to approach ebook pricing

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I did a webinar a couple of weeks ago on ebook pricing and the Kobo Writing Life team distilled it into a blog post.


“Guys, this could be huge”: a good news / bad news story told by your band’s manager (inspired by @believermag’s 2012 music issue)

October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment


"Amazing news, guys. That literary magazine I told you about a while ago, well I just heard that they listened to the CD I sent them and they love your song and it's going  into a compilation that's going to be distributed to all of their readers as part of their annual music issue. Remember what I told you: this is The. Perfect. Audience. They're literate, hip, and a bit affluent too, and that doesn't hurt, right? I think this is a bullseye hit. A huge win.

Just one thing and it's really not a problem but I just thought I'd mention it because I know we were talking about communication the other day, anyway, it's possible most of the people who get it won't be able to listen to it.

Okay, that's it. Call me back if you want. So proud of you guys! Okay, bye."

Can you imagine the type of person who gets this far and presses “Enter”?

July 21, 2012 § Leave a comment


It’s like putting the barrel of a gun in your mouth and imagining what comes next.


The Race Against Time #longreads #running

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

"A champion marathoner and a champion horse are both physiological marvels; the difference is, the marathoner understands that he is in a race."


12 Days Later or, The Family Abides

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment


Since a few days after Edmund was born we've been getting out and about. The dog's getting walked. Baby slings dusted off. Foursquare mayorships of playgrounds defended. We're doing okay. Friends and family stocked us up with food right away so we had a few days at the beginning to find our feet. Today we went for our first session of grocery shopping as a family unit since the expansion. All along the pregnancy Samson's reaction to being replaced as the baby of the house loomed as a big wildcard, but he's turned out to be an affectionate and attentive big brother, and we're lucky that he's just coming into a phase where he's trying to get good at manners, offering up please and thank you without needing prompting, and asking questions — "Mama do you like to come read a book with Samson?" — where he used to only issue demands. He's even volunteered for naps a couple of times recently. We're really proud of him. For a guy who hasn't yet celebrated his 3rd birthday, he's dealing with cataclysmic change extremely well.

So anyway, we know we can survive okay on weekends and under weekend-like conditions.

What's less clear (to me) is how to get along on weekdays when I'm at work and Allie's alone with the 2 boys and Edmund's not respecting the boundaries of his diaper and Samson's nap didn't take and he's doing the pee-pee dance but refusing to do anything constructive about it (i.e. acting his age). I'm sure she's already got an idea of how to keep the household humming while I just worry about what'll happen when I'm not here to… what?… change some diapers and start a load of laundry?

On second thought, this is all going to be fine as soon as I either stop worrying about it or leave for 10 hours.