If the name James Oswald does not ring a bell, give it time. Hailed as the new Ian Rankin, this 45-year-old farmer from north east Fife has just landed a six figure book deal with Penguin after self-publishing a crime novel, Natural Causes, last year.
Oswald had spent years trying to get his work published, and after yet another rejection was on the point of giving up. “I’ve had 20 years of writing,” he was reported to have said, “I’m not going to do it any more.”
So what happened to turn the author’s writing fortunes around? Having decided to publish his book himself, he put Natural Causes on Amazon, initially for free, thinking he would maybe get around 100 people a month interested. Incredibly – not least because it was free – there were 50,000 downloads within the first month and at one point he was shifting 2000 copies a day.
Little wonder, then, that Penguin and four other publishers began to sit up and take notice of James Oswald and enter into a bidding war for a traditional publishing deal. Believing, as he does, that most readers still prefer hard copies of a book the author was naturally delighted.
Two writers who are still awaiting the call, but whose names may be more familiar to readers of The Buteman, are Myra Duffy, author of mystery stories set on Bute, and Jenny Campbell, author of Letters from New Delhi. Both have self-published their work and know just how difficult it can be if one has never done it before. Partly for this reason – hoping their own experiences will help others who may be considering self-publication – and partly to give people some idea of how drastically they world of publishing has changed over the last decade, Myra and Jenny will be giving a talk at Rothesay Library on Friday, June 21, at 7.30pm. There will be an opportunity for questions after the talk and refreshments will be served. To be sure of a seat, contact either Patricia McArthur at the library on (01700) 503266 or Jenny Campbell (01700) 502334.