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Post-Potter selling power

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One of the world’s best-known authors will be releasing a new book — her first since penning the biggest-selling literary series of all time — in less than three months. So why is there so little buzz about it? J.K. Rowling‘s novel The Casual Vacancy hits stores on Sept. 27 and will be her follow-up to the behemoth that was Harry Potter, as well as her first work aimed at adults. Beyond the few details released in April, little is known about the book except that it will mark a pivot for Rowling, and chatter seems to be muted for a property of this size and salability. But that’s probably the way she wants it, suggests Camille McDuffie, president of Goldberg McDuffie Communications, a premier independent literary PR firm. ”It seems like a very smart, deliberate strategy,” she tells EW. ”You want to have the biggest impact possible on opening day, so I think they’re smartly holding things back since she’s already such a big name.” There’s also the fear of crushing the book’s charms — according to the press release, it is a darkly comic tale of parochial politics set in a small English burg torn apart after the unexpected death of a town councilman — under the weight of post-Potter expectations. After all, Rowling, 46, is exploring unfamiliar territory. (The Casual Vacancy appears to be an attempt at a clean break from Potter — new book, new publisher, new audience.) ”Normally it’s a one-way street. You see adult authors going into young-adult fiction, but you don’t often see children’s authors going the other way,” says Chris Schluep, a senior books editor at Amazon. (The novel, already available for presale, is languishing around the 600s on the site’s best-seller list.) Of course, the mere fact that Rowling’s name is on the cover could be enough for many. ”All of those people who read Harry Potter are now older and of an age where they’re likely to be receptive to an adult work by J.K. Rowling,” says Paul Bogaards, head of publicity at Knopf. Or, as Schluep puts it, ”it’s like she’s a brand-new author, but with a built-in audience.”

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