The Rowling Experiment
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about J. K. Rowling’s experiment in publishing a crime novel under an assumed name.
For the benefit of those who may have been in limbo and out of touch with the news, Rowling—famous for her Harry Potter juvenile novels—decided to publish a debut detective novel under the name Robert Galbraith, alleged to be the married father of two and a former undercover investigator.
Though the book sold about 1,500 copies in hardback (not bad for a debut mystery), sales didn’t really begin to soar until her cover was blown in a newspaper article. Some have accused Rowling of engaging in chicanery and leaking her identity to the press.
Whether you believe that or not, is of no concern here.
What is obvious, and hasn’t been stressed enough, is this fact: Names sell.
This has always been true to a certain extent, but is even more true today. Readers, deluged with tons of books being published each year, must rely on certain factors to select their next book. Though reviews, a good cover and/or advertising may have some impact, nothing sells like NAME RECOGNITION.
And why should it not? If a reader enjoys one book, it encourages belief the next will similarly entertain. Each reader you please could lead to multiple recommendations. And there is no better advertising than word of mouth.
Naturally, most of us won’t emulate Rowling or other big names—at least not in the short term. But reader by reader, each of us CAN build a following.
How you choose to build your name recognition is a matter of choice. There are many methods of marketing available to us and no one is certain which works best. What we can all do, though, is strive to improve our product in every way possible.
Oh, and one other thing—be appreciative of your readers.
Sooner Than Gold Blurb:
It’s the summer of 1898. The nation, just coming out of an economic slump, has been at war with Spain since April. And Sylvester Tilghman, sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, has a murder victim with too many enemies.
There’s Claude Kessler, who is found standing with a knife in his hand over the body of Willis Petry. There’s Rachel Webber, Petry’s surly teen-aged stepdaughter, who admits an act intended to cause him harm. Then there’s the band of gypsies who claim Petry is the goryo who stole one of their young women.
If this isn’t enough to complicate Tilghman’s life, add in threats to his job by McClean Ruppenthal, former town burgess; a run-in with a female horse thief; scary predictions by a gypsy fortuneteller, and the theft of Doc Mariner’s new motorcar.
There’s plenty of good eating, church-going and socializing along the way. And, before all is over, Sylvester solves the crime and even comes a little closer to his goal of finally marrying longtime girlfriend Lydia Longlow.
BIO: The author of 12 novels, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania. A retired newspaper editor, he now serves as librarian of his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research and finding much material for stories in both the people he meets and the books in the stacks. He has two children and four grandsons who try—not always successfully—to keep him out of trouble.