It’s the world’s biggest online book store and boasts a best-sellers chart littered with some of the greatest names in fiction.
And now one city teacher has been left reeling after a book he penned for charity rocketed to the top of the Amazon hit list – fending off competition from top authors such as Stephen King and Hilary Mantel.
Joel Caldicott, who has taught English at Queensferry Community High School for the past ten years, released a collection of short stories titled His Precious Burden at the beginning of this week as part of a drive to raise money for a cancer charity in memory of his late father.
And since self-publishing his book on Amazon on Monday, a shocked Joel has found himself swept to top of the Literary Short Stories bestsellers list in an unexpected surge of popularity.
The father-of-three said he was still “riding the buzz” from his success – but insisted his primary concern was raising cash for Prostate Cancer UK on the back of his book sales.
His father, Graham, died of the disease in May last year, and the 38-year-old said his book – composed of four separate short stories – was a “realistic tribute” to the father he loved.
He said: “I lost my dad to prostate cancer a year ago this week, so this has been released to time with that. The running theme is fathers.
“We were extremely close – I had 37 years with him. They were not perfect, but the vast majority of it I remember with a warm glow.
“I had already written two of the stories before my father passed away – it just happened to be on my mind subconsciously. But the stories aren’t about my dad.”
Joel’s short stories take in a wide range of themes around fatherhood – including jealousy, loss and adoption – and even touch on the political divides thrown into sharp relief by last year’s independence referendum.
The teacher, who lives in Dunfermline with his wife and three young sons, is aiming to raise more than £1000 for prostate cancer through the book’s sales and a separate Tough Mudder challenge in June.
And today he revealed he is half-way through writing his first full-length novel set in Edinburgh and north Wales, which he hopes to have published in the future.
He said: “I’m an English teacher and writing has always been a pastime of mine. I did a few modules on writing at university and sort of got into it. Direct publishing is really useful these days – I’m just trying to do my best to get it out there.
“I’ve cut out most stuff from my life – the most I watch on TV is Match of the Day.
“My initial hope for the [short story] book was just to smash that £1000 target. It’s just about seeing how this goes and seeing how much money I can raise for Prostate Cancer.”
A spokesman from Prostate Cancer UK said: “We would like to offer both our congratulations to Joel on this fantastic achievement and also our sincere thanks for raising funds for Prostate Cancer UK in the process.”