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James Oswald tops Kindle list

13 May 2013

This week's publishing sensation is James Oswald, Scottish farmer and writer, who has achieved his current success because of single-minded determination to publicise his work. Through his own efforts he reached the top of the Kindle bestseller lists in the UK and has used this self-publishing success to find a publisher.

His latest Inspector McLean mystery is set in Edinburgh and features ritual disembowelment, so you can tell that he is from the gritty Scottish school of Ian Rankin and Denise Mina. At the right moment you could have picked up his book for nothing, as he set it up on Amazon so that he gave away one book if you bought another in the series for £2.99.He sold 50,000 copies and achieved 350,000 downloads of the ebook ‘quite a lot of which were paid for'.

There's no doubt he's a clever marketeer and deserves the £150,000 deal he signed with Penguin last autumn, which is making some people say that it's like E L James all over again. The difference is that the crime genre is already well-established and selling well in ebook. Earlier an editor advised him that the public did not like books which crossed genres, so his mixture of crime and the supernatural was reckoned to be too risky. It looks as if James Oswald is on his way to proving that traditional editorial wisdom wrong and launching a stellar career.

Will he give up the farm though? He says not and used the first money he earned to buy a new tractor. He's been writing all his life, but the farm, which he inherited from his parents when they were killed suddenly in a road accident, is in his blood too.