JK Rowling

Here at Higher Ways Publishing, we know that it can take a lot of work to become a published writer. World-famous author JK Rowling has shared the rejection letters she received from publishers while writing under a different pen name, showing that even the most celebrated of writers don’t always find it easy to get published.

Changing pen name

UK author JK Rowling famously wrote the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has since gone on to become one of the most successful book collections in history. The Telegraph writes that over 450 million copies of the Harry Potter books have been sold globally and the film version of the franchise has netted a staggering £4.7 billion at the international box office. She is currently the best-selling living author in the UK, by an extremely large margin.

After the success of Harry Potter, Rowling turned her hand to writing more adult material. The author adopted the pen name Robert Galbraith and wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling, a post-war detective novel. Initial sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling were disappointing; after first hitting shelves in July 2013, it only shifted a paltry 1,500 copies. Sales picked up once Rowling was revealed as the author behind the book, allowing it to become a number one bestseller.

Publisher rejection

The Daily Mail reports that Rowling has now revealed that The Cuckoo’s Calling was rejected by several publishing houses, before being accepted by Sphere Books. The woman behind Harry Potter recently posted the rejection letters she received from publishing houses Constable and Robinson and Crème de la Crème on her Twitter account.

Crème de la Crème, a specialist crime novel publisher, kept their rejection letter short and to the point. They simply told ‘Galbraith’ that they did not wish to accept new admissions. British publisher Constable and Robinson were more ‘helpful.’ When writing to ‘Galbraith’ to explain why they rejected The Cuckoo’s Calling, Constable and Robinson attached a step-by-step guide detailing how the author could achieve success in future.

Advice for Galbraith

In the letter, Constable and Robison advised the author: “Double check in a helpful bookshop, on Amazon or in the twice yearly ‘Buyer’s Guide’ of Bookseller Magazine precisely who are the publishers now of your fiction category/genre. Then send to each editor an alluring 200-word blurb (as in book jackets; don’t give away the ending!) the first chapter plus perhaps two others and an S.A.E.”

Constable and Robinson also provided Galbraith with tips on how the author could appeal to publishers. It says: “The covering letter should state as precisely as you can the category/genre of fiction you are submitting… Owing to pressure of submission, I regret we cannot reply individually or provide constructive criticism (a writers’ group/writing course may help with the latter).”

Lesson for aspiring writers

Rowling’s rejection can serve as a valuable lesson for aspiring authors. No two publishers are the same; each has their own ideas on what makes a successful book. It is key that writers perform extensive research before submitting work to publishers, so they can target their work in such a way as to attract publisher attention and achieve success. Remember that famously, JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by numerous publishers, before being accepted by Bloomsbury.

About Higher Ways Publishing

Established in 2003 by Hayim Oshky and Mike Walden, Higher Ways Publishing helps authors and publishers transform brilliant ideas into commercial success. Headquartered in Tel Aviv Israel and California, they are a market leader in digital and hard-cover publishing for the health, fitness and relationship industries. Higher Ways Publishing have assisted many authors in expanding their online presence in the growing digital marketing world.

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