Author James Oswald tops the charts before debut novel Natural Causes hits the shelves


A SCOTS farmer turned crime novelist shot to the top of the download charts – days before the launch of his first paperback.

James Oswald’s grisly mystery Natural Causes has hit the no 1 spot on Amazon’s Kindle download charts even though it only landed in stores on Thursday.

After landing a six-figure book deal with Penguin, the Fife farmer’s only extravagant purchase was a £30,000 new tractor.

James Oswald splashed £30,000 on his dream machine after landing a £150,000 deal with Penguin
James Oswald splashed £30,000 on his dream machine after landing a £150,000 deal with Penguin


He had faced years of rejection from publishers, James self-published his books online and clocked up hundreds of thousands of free downloads.

But his fans are still willing to pay just under £4 to download the Edinburgh-set Natural Causes, shifting 11,000 in just one day.

The novel now sits ahead of books by Dan Brown and Jeffrey Archer in the chart.

The writer spends his days raising cattle and sheep at the 350-acre Fliskmillan Farm near Newburgh.

His ambitions of becoming a published author were thwarted as publishers rejected his book, saying the supernatural tinge to his stories wouldn’t go down well with crime audiences.

The enterprising author, who stays in a static caravan on the farm he inherited from his parents, then published the books himself online.

The dark novels were downloaded 350,000 times as word of mouth spread, prompting the same publishers who turned him down to start a bidding war.



This week his dream finally came true as Natural Causes appeared in bookshops after Penguin sealed the deal.

The book, which follows Edinburgh inspector Anthony McLean, reached no

1 in the Kindle charts on Tuesday, despite only being available to download a few weeks previously.

The writer spoke of his shock at the success at the book’s launch in Dundee last night.

James, 45, said: “I am no expert but I don’t think this has happened very much before. I think it is very rare indeed.

“Gobsmacked is the only way I can describe how I feel. It’s so astonishing and so unusual for something like that to happen.

“I know the whole point of promoting the book on Kindle is to boost sales but normally it doesn’t happen that quickly.

“I am over the moon.”