Which Best Selling Author Used Their Initials To Appeal To Young Male Readers?
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 cover of the first edition of best-selling Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. After the first book in the series began gaining traction, her publishing house—Bloomsbury Publishing—became concerned that young boys would not want to read a book authored by a woman.
They insisted 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 were all published under the name J. K. Rowling.
The Harry Potter series went 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 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 trilogy sold 150 million books and The Hobbit sold 100 million), and J. D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye – 65 million books).
Image courtesy J.K. Rowling.