UK award-winning crowdfunding publisher Unbound has signed up The Sheriff’s Catch, a debut novel by Maltese author James Vella-Bardon.

Unbound’s business model is a simple one, in which a third of a book’s financing is covered through the private contributions of readers.

The publisher’s award-winning list of writers includes Monty Python legend Terry Jones and the Man Booker Prize longlisted author Paul Kingsnorth.

Since its presales launch, The Sheriff’s Catch has had an encouraging list of patrons, with the novel shooting to first spot on Unbound’s platform, which includes 375 published and unpublished projects. After dropping to fourth spot after three days, the novel still tops the digital and fiction categories.

£4,000 worth of pre-sales was collected in less than six days from going live on Unbound’s platform last week.

Given that each of Unbound’s authors is given three months to raise the initial figure required for publication, it is sweet vindication for the Maltese novelist after eight years of research, rewriting and submissions.

Upon publication, readers contributing to the crowdfund will have their names inscribed as patrons in all copies of the book.

Maltese support for the project has been both swift and wholehearted and has left Dr Vella-Bardon deeply moved.

“It is all a bit unreal at the minute, the support from back home has just been staggering. The Maltese are renowned for their pragmatic, no-nonsense efficiency, but this is just incredible.

The support from back home has just been staggering

“I cannot thank my Maltese patrons enough, and can only promise them a cracking read once their copy is received.”

After qualifying as a doctor of laws from the University of Malta in 2005, Dr Vella-Bardon emigrated to Sydney in 2007, after a brief stint spent working at EU institutions in Brussels, Belgium.

Following further studies in Australia he attended creative writing courses provided by various established Australian authors.

In 2009, he set about researching and penning his first novel, holding down a number of day jobs in financial services and writing late into the night.

“Of course, for a while there I badly missed my country, family and friends. But you only get one shot at life and you just have to follow your calling. Being a writer is an inescapable condition, and I love Sydney and my life here,” he said.

“In recent years Malta has taken some firm economic strides forwards, yet through my work I hope to somehow contribute to its profile in the cultural space.”

The Sheriff’s Catch is the story of a man forced to join the Spanish Armada who must flee fatal capture in 16th century Ireland.

Presale copies of The Sheriff’s Catch are available online.

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