The Rosie Project was originally written as a screenplay when Graeme Simsion studied screenwriting at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia in 2006-2007. By 2008, he had completed a draft of a screenplay called The Klara Project, a romantic comedy with the same premise as the subsequent novel but a different plot and a different version of the central character, who would later become Rosie.
After working with the script for a number of years, Simsion decided the premise would work better as a novel. By 2012, he had developed a book manuscript for The Rosie Project, which won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. This award sparked the attention of publishers, and Text Publishing purchased the Australian book rights. The novel was published in Australia in January 2013. The novel was subsequently published in the United States by Simon & Schuster, and in the U.K by Penguin Books.
The novel sold extremely well and was generally well-reviewed. It was awarded a number of prizes, including the 2014 Australian Book Industry Association's Book of the Year. In 2014, tech entrepreneur Bill Gates published a list of 6 books he would personally recommend, and The Rosie Project was the only work of fiction included on the list. Simsion published a sequel, The Rosie Effect, in 2014, and a third book in the series, The Rosie Result, in 2019.
Sony Pictures optioned the film rights to The Rosie Project in 2014, and Simsion contributed to drafting the script. Jennifer Lawrence was cast in the film in 2015 but subsequently dropped out of production to pursue other projects. The initial directors also left the project, and as of 2021, the film adaptation had not been released.