A detective novel secretly written by JK Rowling surged to the top of bestseller lists after the true identity of the author was revealed, embarrassing some publishers who had rejected the manuscript.
Rowling, whose Harry Potter series made her Britainâ??s bestselling author, posed as a retired military policeman called Robert Galbraith to write The Cuckooâ??s Calling, only to see her cover blown at the weekend by a Sunday newspaper.
The novel had only sold 1 500 hardback copies since being published in April. But by Monday it had raced to the top of Amazon.co.ukâ??s bestselling list, leaving High Street and online book merchants unable to slake demand.
â??For a title that isnâ??t even in our top 5 000 to shoot to number one so quickly is almost unheard of,â? Darren Hardy, books manager at Amazon.co.uk, said via email.
Hardy said that this meteoric rise in sales meant The Cuckooâ??s Calling has established itself as a contender to become one of the biggest-selling books of the summer.
Publisher Little, Brown, which last year published Rowlingâ??s first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, said it was immediately reprinting The Cuckooâ??s Calling â?? about war veteran turned private eye Cormorant Strike investigating the death of a model.
â??Weâ??re looking forward to publishing Strikeâ??s next instalment in summer 2014,â? the publisher said in a statement.
Rowling (47) said it had been â??wonderfulâ? to publish for once without hype or expectation and to get feedback under a different name â?? even if that meant some publishers rejected her work.
Her Harry Potter series was also spurned by about 12 publishers before the first of her seven novels about the boy wizard was published in 1997.
Kate Mills, fiction editor at London-based Orion publishing, went on to Twitter to admit that she was knocked back Rowlingâ??s new work.
â??So I can now say that I turned down JK Rowling. I did read and say no to Cuckooâ??s Calling. Anyone else going to confess?â? Mills tweeted.
Reviewers as well admitted to missing the book that received largely positive write-ups from those who did read it.
â??Mea culpa, mea culpa. Me for @thebookseller on how I missed The Cuckooâ??s Calling,â? tweeted fiction reviewer Cathy Rentzenbrink from trade magazine The Bookseller, who only read the first chapter of the book before abandoning it.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said it was not unusual in the publishing world to use a pseudonym if authors wanted to write in a new genre to attract a new readership or for female writers who did not want to alienate male readers.