Caroline Mitchell | Novelist

“Everything was very clear, with the options laid out - and I could see how much I was going to spend. I had high expectations of a good quality product at the end and I felt my hand was held throughout the process.”

Debut novelist celebrates with Waterstones book launch

"Everything was very clear, with the options laid out - and I could see how much I was going to spend. I had high expectations of a good quality product at the end and I felt my hand was held throughout the process. When I got the books, I was so happy. It’s a really nice book to look at and to hold."
Caroline Mitchell | Author

Author profile

Caroline Mitchell recalls her love of books starting young, with her father reading to her regularly in her childhood. Her early career in PR involved plenty of writing, developing press releases and producing newsletters for clients. After moving to Monmouthshire and raising her children, she decided to divide her time between rural Wales and Bristol, where she works part-time in an office environment. In her fifties, she signed up for a creative writing course with an idea to write a novel. However, when her father died, she put the novel aside, writing poetry and a daily journal in its place for almost a year.

Yet with fifty thousand words completed, Caroline was eager to finish her manuscript, so she dedicated 2018 to it. To help her make progress, she joined the writing workshops held by the lifelong learning department at Bristol University, where the tutor and other participants shared feedback. Her debut novel, Chains of Gold, tells the story of Leni, the main character, who learns about herself through loss and love, the second time around.

Challenge - getting over agent rejections

After completing the book, Caroline felt a huge sense of achievement, but she also felt somewhat bereft because writing it had occupied so much time. The characters had been steadfast (and sometimes annoying!) companions for the four years in the making.

She initially wanted to take her book through the traditional publishing route. "Once it was finished, I gave my novel to two beta readers who gave me some good feedback. Then by the end of March 2019, I was ready to find an agent. I sent the book out to quite a few and received some nice comments in their replies - but they have to fall in love with the whole package and throughout the summer, I was getting rejections. I was encouraged however, with one agent saying she liked the clarity of my writing."

As summer drew on, Caroline accepted the fact that agents receive hundreds of submissions and began to consider self-publishing. She says, "Someone I worked with knew Helen Hart at SilverWood Books personally; this colleague encouraged me to talk to her. At the time, I’d been liaising with a designer to prepare a book jacket and separately to a proofreader to explore self-publishing. But I was worried that all these different strands would leave the book looking amateur. Most of all, I wanted my book to sit on any shelf and look like it had been traditionally published. As an indie publisher, SilverWood is discerning and they act as a professional publishing house, so I was delighted they wanted to take my novel on."

Getting the perfect cover design

Caroline remembers the information from SilverWood being very clear about how the publishing process works and the costs involved. She explains, "I liked their whole online presence and how they explained the process - they made it really clear. I always had upbeat and friendly replies from the publishing assistants and built a relationship with them. It was wonderful that they came to my book launch, where I finally met them."

It was reassuring to have SilverWood Books hold her hand and listen to her input. Caroline says, "When the first book cover came through, it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I had a vision of how Leni looked, being interested in fashion, and the Victorian terraced house she buys in the story. What I loved was that they listened - the second cover was exactly right. When I got my supply of books, I was so happy, I felt like a proper author. It’s a really good quality product."

Agreeing with SilverWood’s advice, Caroline decided that Christmas was too busy a period to publish the book and went for the end of January to reach the Valentine’s Day market. She says, "My book launch took place at Waterstones in Bristol on the 1st of February. It was a fantastic party and Waterstones were happy with the number sold at the event. Family and friends have bought copies and the book has gone off to Scotland, Australia and Canada already. There’s only a few copies left from the initial boxes I ordered."

Caroline is now writing a second novel, including some of the characters from Chains of Gold.

Read more

If you enjoyed this success story, you may also like our Learning Zone article: How to Find the Right Agent for You, and Stay Positive in the Face of Rejection.

Work with SilverWood

Discuss working with SilverWood's Helen Hart by dropping her a line here.

Chains of Gold

Chains of Gold

Caroline Mitchell



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