Archive | February 2012

CNN: Will J.K. Rowling net wizard profits from switch to crime?

London (CNN) — The publishing industry is buzzing with reports that
“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has made the switch from wizards to
killers, after signing a new deal to write a book for adults.

On Friday, Rowling (@jk_rowling) tweeted: “As you may have heard, I
have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although
I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much.”

Publishers Little, Brown announced it had snapped up the latest
project from Rowling — one of the world’s best-selling authors — who
said she was looking forward to “this new phase of my writing life.”

“The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success
has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical
progression to have a new publisher,” she said in a statement.

Rowling’s choice of Little, Brown publisher David Shelley as editor
has led to fevered discussion as to whether her new work will take the
form of a murder mystery.

“The rumor is that it’s a crime thriller, and that it could be set in
[her adopted home of] Edinburgh; there’s no smoke without fire,”
Philip Jones, deputy editor of trade paper The Bookseller, told CNN.
“Her new editor, David Shelley, is known for his work with crime

Shelley also works with popular crime writers Val McDermid and Mark Billingham.

After news of the deal broke, McDermid (@valmcdermid) tweeted: “Nice
to see that JK Rowling has such good taste in editors…” suggesting
to Billingham (@MarkBillingham): “Do you think her choice [of David
Shelley] means she’s writing a thriller/crime novel?”

She later added: “It’s a reasonable speculation that it’s a mystery,
since that’s what David Shelley does so well…”

And fellow crime writer Ian Rankin (@beathhigh) tweeted “Wouldn’t it
be funny if JK Rowling’s first novel for adults turned out to be a
crime story set in Edinburgh?”

Rankin, author of the best-selling “Rebus” novels, themselves set in
the city, jokingly added: “Might explain why she left the
neighbourhood (me, [Alexander] McCall Smith, [Kate] Atkinson
near-neighbours) and moved across town.

“She’s certainly a fan of the traditional whodunnit.”

Jones said whatever form the new book takes, it is certain to provide
a much-needed shot in the arm for the publishing industry.

“What the book trade needs desperately is ‘event books’ — high
profile titles by famous authors, which get people going into
bookshops to buy them, or even just to look at them, and then end up
buying others.

“But they are few and far between — they come up once or twice a
year. This is the event book to blow all other event books out of the

He said that the book’s simultaneous publication as an ebook would be
closely watched for clues to the health of the ebook market, and its
impact on the “real” book market.

“That has never happened before, either with Harry Potter or with
other ‘event titles,’ and now that ebooks make up a 20th of the
market, it will be fascinating to see if that has an impact — it
really could be a game-changer.”

Jones said it was unlikely Rowling would be able to repeat the massive
success of the “Harry Potter” books, the tales of a young wizard which
have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide, and sparked a film
franchise and a merchandizing empire.

“I don’t think it will be as big as Harry Potter, but Harry Potter was
built up slowly over time — this, as far as we can tell from the
press release, is a single book, and an adult book, so she will be
looking for a new audience, and they may take some convincing.”

But he said it made sense for Rowling to make a fresh start, with her
switch to writing for “grown-ups.”

“Her writing has grown up, as have her readers: Most of the youngsters
who read the first Harry Potter books when they came out are adults
now, so she has a ready-made audience.”