J A Higgins | Mystery Writer

Unfinished Manuscript to Stand-Out Mystery Thriller

How SilverWood Books helped J A Higgins

Customer Testimonial

"With SilverWood, I felt completely in control while still being looked after and guided in the right direction. They had my best interests in mind and gave advice when needed. SilverWood had my back and made sure my book was the best it could be."
J A Higgins | Author

Author Profile

Born and raised at Porton Down in Wiltshire and currently working for the NHS in Salisbury, J A Higgins has always been fascinated by crime, history and the unexplained. Finding Ruby is the first in the Nell Montague mystery series, which will examine how horrors from the past are still very relevant today. Eleven years ago, the idea occurred to the author, developing into characters and a story that recurred so frequently, it needed to be put onto paper.


Publishing this story was not even a thought yet. J A Higgins’s only desire was to write it and bring the story and characters to life. J A knew that this goal could not be accomplished without a real sense of structure, discipline and accountability. Because of this, J A committed to completing a novel-writing course at the London School of Journalism. This course helped produce the very first, and rough, draft of the novel, Finding Ruby.

For the next ten years, J A kept picking at the initial manuscript. It wasn’t until J A attended a writers’ forum in September of 2014 that self-publishing was seriously considered. "At the writers’ forum hosted by SilverWood, I quickly realised SilverWood may very well be the people I would work with. I wanted a trustworthy company that could provide all the information I needed to know as well as clear steps, direction and guidance."

Despite the feeling that SilverWood was the right publisher, J A still spent some time contemplating whether or not the time was right to publish it as a first novel: "I needed to get over the stigma of 'vanity publishing’... I was scared to put myself out there. It took a lot of nerve to share my thoughts with others. Because of this, I clung to the manuscript. I knew I needed to be brave, and I knew that I needed to work with people who know what they're talking about."

With this in mind, J A sent the first three chapters of Finding Ruby to SilverWood for feedback via their Reader’s Report to review the writing.

SilverWood Books as a valuable partner and information resource

For J A, the Reader’s Report was an essential first step in the publishing process. The review gave J A reassurance about the novel and outlined a clear guide of suggestions and necessary next steps to publish.

Soon after the Reader’s Report, J A partnered with SilverWood for copy editing and proofreading of the novel. J A shares that working with SilverWood gave peace of mind, because so much of the information you need is readily available and easily accessible on the website.

"When I began the editing portion, I found their publishing journey helpful. My professional background is all about following processes and gathering information. So when I saw SilverWood provided clear guidance within staff communication and the content on their website, it made the entire process feel familiar and effective."

Outside of editing and publishing, J A worked through the marketing advice on the SilverWood website as well as using their in-house design team for the book cover.

"I took every piece of advice from SilverWood; I took it all on board. I believe if you're going to publish your own work, and you truly believe in your work, you deserve to take every action necessary and put your trust in a team that knows what they are doing. That way, you're giving your manuscript every opportunity to be the best it can be."

After making the most of the help, J A decided it was the right time to publish: "Publishing on summer solstice was my decision. Ultimately, I drove that dream. I didn't want to be held up with rejections from publishers, and SilverWood allowed me to be in control while still having my best interests in mind."


After publishing Finding Ruby: A Nell Montague Mystery, author J A Higgins could not be more pleased with the finished product.

"The physical book cover really stands out. I've never seen anything like it! People have mentioned to me that they love the cover, the title glows... It really is a beautiful product, and I'm so happy I trusted the team."

In addition to a stand-out book cover, the thriller within has captured readers, resulting in glowing Amazon reviews for the novel; many readers are eager for a sequel. These reader reviews highlight the importance of knowing what your audience wants and enjoys:

"A gripping story. Well written in a style which kept me wanting to turn the next page. At times I felt I was right there living the experience. Highly recommend this book."

"Enjoyed reading this mystery, very well written. Lots of twists & turns to keep you guessing throughout the book. The characters and settings are brought to life in a descriptive way that absorbs you into Finding Ruby. I would highly recommend this novel, exceptionally good and certainly a page-turner. Can't wait for the next novel in the series."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to more of the same. I was drawn into the story with the use of great descriptive language and would have no hesitation in recommending this to all who enjoy a thriller."

J A is writing again and planning to release the second book to continue the Nell Montague Mystery series in 2019/20.

Work with SilverWood:

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

Finding Ruby

Finding Ruby

J A Higgins



“If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I hope you don't go at it alone. With a team like SilverWood behind you, you have the support you need to publish the best work you believe in.”

J A Higgins