Last July, there was a bit of a debacle as it was revealed that the quiet little mystery The Cuckoo’s Calling by unknown author Robert Galbraith, was actually the work of highly renowned author J. K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter saga. This little mystery that had only a handful of reviews — albeit, most of them pretty positive — suddenly shot up to being a bestseller, with thousands of reviews and ratings.
This is something that irked me to no end. I’m pretty sure that the story went that Rowling wasn’t the one who leaked the name, but it happened and then all of a sudden, J. K. Rowling’s name is attached to the book and retailers are re-releasing the book using Rowling’s name to sell it. I was seeing it in emails, at the bookstore — everywhere!
When it comes to an author having a pseudonym, I prefer to NOT know what’s going on. I think back to when I first started enjoying Sophie Kinsella’s works. They were fun and cute reads — perfect for a day in the sun or a fast read by the fire on a winter day. Then, it was revealed that Sophie’s real name was Madeleine Wickham, a name she had published several titles under. I thought that it was too good to be true, so I picked up some of her books as Madeleine and gave them a go. While they were okay reads, they weren’t Sophie Kinsella. They were missing that certain something that makes a Sophie Kinsella book a Sophie Kinsella book.
While it’s hard to keep in the dark about an author having a pseudonym, I prefer it to be kept a mystery. Nothing bothers me more than going to a bookstore and seeing the author’s giant name SO AND SO WRITING AS … and then the small pseudonym underneath. I mean, why even bother if you’re just going to use your real name, or the name that got you famous, to sell your alter-ego’s books?
In the end, if a book looks good I’m going to read it, regardless of who wrote it, but I still maintain that if you’re going to write under a pseudonym, do try to keep in under wraps, or else what’s the point in using one?
What do you think of authors writing under pseudonyms? Do you think they should be kept a secret? Should the author’s bestselling name still be on the cover?