Geek Trivia

Which Best Selling Author Used Their Initials To Appeal To Young Male Readers?

P. C. Cast
V.C. Andrews
J. D. Salinger
J. K. Rowling
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Answer: J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling, British novelist and author of the best-selling Harry Potter fantasy series, was born Joanne Rowling and it was that name that was printed on the copyright page of the first edition of best-selling Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while the initialed version of her name was used on the front cover. Her publishing house—Bloomsbury Publishing—became concerned that young boys would not want to read a book authored by a woman.

They insisted that she publish using her initials in order to mask her gender and not alienate potential readers. Since she had no middle name, she adopted the name of her paternal grandmother, Kathleen Rowling, to serve as her middle name. Later editions of the first book and all editions of the following six books all used the name J. K. Rowling on the front covers and copyright pages.

The Harry Potter series has gone on to sell more than 500 million books worldwide, making it the best-selling book series of all time. Perhaps there is a sort of magic in publishing when using only your initials; the second best-selling book series of all time is R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series with 350 million sales. Other notable and initialed best-selling authors include C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia – 120 million books), J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings – 150 million books, and The Hobbit – 100 million), and J. D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye – 65 million books).

Image courtesy of J.K. Rowling.