Even author JK Rowling is a victim of the slushpile

The Cukoo's Calling coverTo all you authors querying your work and trying to bounce back after rejections – take heart!

The slushpile is a place aspiring authors know all too well, but British author JK Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, hasn’t had to face rejection in a long time.

Until now, that is.

An article in The Telegraph explains how the publishing director of Orion unwittingly turned down Rowling’s debut crime novel, The Cukoo’s Calling. JK Rowling’s novel was released this past April, under the pen name Robert Galbraith, whose bio described him as a former military policeman. It has received good reviews, but achieved only modest commercial success. That’s bound to change now that Rowling has admitted to authoring the crime novel.

But when Rowling’s agent shopped the publication around for his fictitious client, Orion decided to pass. As reported by The Telegraph, Orion’s publishing director said “When the book came in, I thought it was perfectly good – it was certainly well written – but it didn’t stand out. Strange as it might seem, that’s not quite enough. Editors have to fall in love with debuts. It’s very hard to launch new authors and crime is a very crowded market.”

And so, aspiring authors, buck up if those rejection letters show up in your inbox! After all, it can even happen to an author whose series have sold over 400 million copies worldwide…


  1. Julia on July 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I find it interesting that she either uses a man’s name or just the initials of her first name…

  2. kimberlysullivan on July 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Julia. Yes, it is interesting she chose a male pen name this time. From what I read, that began the suspicion, since many of the details seemed to be written more by a woman. However, I understand that she didn’t have any choice for the JK. It seems that publishers believed young boys would be more likely to read an author they believed to be male. Sad, isn’t it?

  3. Claire 'Word by Word' on July 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Perseverance wins over talent time after time.

  4. kimberlysullivan on July 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Good advice, Claire. I’ve heard lots of author talks where they said they’ve met or read works by talented authors who just gave up querying. I think authors simply have to learn rejection is part of the game, and I wanted to illustrate that it can even happen to a bestselling author (although I doubt Rowling was upset by her rejection…) : )

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