Case Study #8

Multiple-published author launches a new novel


Customer testimonial

"The SilverWood team are incredibly efficient, although it is different to the relationship with my mainstream publishers, who would often have been involved with me and my book throughout the writing and editing process. SilverWood’s speed of publication is brilliant and they’re always very clear about what they do and what I need to do throughout the process, and what my rights are. I’ve been really impressed with the speed at which they respond to emails, too. With SilverWood, I know they will produce a beautiful book with a beautiful cover." | Ann Turnbull, children’s and historical fiction author.

Author profile

Ann Turnbull’s love of writing began at a very early age, and by the time she was 10, she knew she wanted to be a writer. In her mid-teens, she was tapping out stories on a typewriter her parents had given her and one short story earned her a place at the Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick. With growing confidence, Ann started sending her stories to publishers in hope someone would see their potential and give her an opportunity. She learned shorthand and typing at school, and at seventeen she left to take up work as a secretary, while continuing to write in her spare time. But by her late twenties Ann began to feel that she would never be published and, wanting a change of direction, she decided to train as a teacher. "I read a lot of modern children’s books as part of my course," recalled Ann. "I absolutely loved them and thought, I could do that."
 
Ann set to work on a new story, and once she was happy with it, sent it off to a publisher. It took just one rejection before she received the acceptance letter she was hoping for. Her first book was published in 1974.
 
Since then, Ann has written about 40 books for children and young adults. Many are based around historical events and do an incredible job of bringing facts, dates and history to life. She has written stand-alone stories set in different centuries, a trilogy about the early Quakers, a collection of Greek myths and a trio of books for younger children about significant 17th Century events - the Gunpowder Plot, the Plague and The Great Fire of London. The first book in Ann’s Quaker trilogy for teens, No Shame, No Fear, was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Whitbread Book Award (now known as the Costa Book Award).
 
Ann has self-published two books with SilverWood: her latest story, In That Time of Secrets, and a new edition of a previously published book, Deep Water.


Self-publishing to breathe new life into an out-of-print story

Ann was inspired to seek out a self-publisher after getting a number of enquiries from people, particularly teachers, looking for her middle years fiction book, Deep Water. First published in 1996, the book, which is a gripping tale centred around a moral dilemma, had gone through several editions with two different publishers and had ended up going out of print.
 
"At that time I was selling my out-of-print books on Amazon Marketplace," said Ann. "I eventually sold all my spare copies of Deep Water, so I thought it would be worth self-publishing, and I started looking for a company to help me."
 
Having worked with publishing houses for years, Ann had a good idea of what to look for. "I was drawn to SilverWood because they sounded very efficient. They were also one of the few self-publishers that didn’t have typos in their ad!" said Ann.
 
"They were very good at setting out the costs and exactly what would be required from both sides. It was very clear, and the SilverWood team were always friendly. It’s not quite the same as the ongoing relationship you get with an editor at a publishing house, but I didn’t mind that - what I wanted was a good-looking book."

New edition paves the way for another historical novel

When revising Deep Water for self-publishing, Ann changed very little apart from some character names. She wanted more unusual names to make it less likely that someone would get teased for having the same name as an undesirable character. Deep Water was published with SilverWood in 2013 and Ann is delighted with the new look and feel of the book.
 
In late 2014, Ann started writing again, knowing that one of her previous publishers was waiting for another novel from her. In fact, it was the research from an earlier book that formed the basis of In That Time of Secrets.
 
"I had done masses of research for the Gunpowder Plot book, which is tiny, and this research inspired me with an idea that isn’t directly about the Gunpowder Plot but is linked to it. It’s set in the Midlands, and gives an idea of how it felt to be separated from events in London at that time. It’s a story about Catholic priests hiding from the authorities, and is also a story about love."
 
Despite initial commissioning by a publisher, five months into writing In That Time of Secrets Ann heard that they weren’t going to publish it.
 
"I carried on anyway and finished the book, and my agent loved it and began sending it out to publishers," reflected Ann. "All along, I wasn’t sure if it was as good as my other books. Without the support of my usual publishers, I felt very uncertain - and although many of the publishers my agent sent it to said that they loved it, they nearly all described it as a 'quiet’ book and were not prepared to take it on." However, Ann’s agent still felt it had great potential and, given her confidence in the process of self-publishing, Ann decided to give her book a chance. "I wasn't expecting to sell it in large numbers," she said. "I just wanted to get it out there after so much work."

Outcome for the author

In That Time of Secrets was published with SilverWood in 2018 and Ann is very happy with the book. SilverWood designed a bespoke illustration for the cover, lending itself to the darker, secretive aspect of the story using Ann’s ideas from the cover brief.
 
"It looks great," said Ann. "My ideas for the cover at first seemed useless. Because I’m used to illustrations or photos, they were too complex. The cover SilverWood came up with is really strong and it’s got all the information you need in it. I eventually liked it very much - it’s rare for me to like them immediately!"
 
Ann was happy with SilverWood’s process, and likes the potential for self-publishing her books for older and younger children. "What I liked about self-publishing was having complete control. It was very efficient and SilverWood always came back with very quick responses - you just don’t get that with a traditional publisher because they have to work in a different way and the whole process is more complex."
 
Ann’s fiction books help to bring history to life for younger readers. She has been in touch with a few key bookshops about her books and has spotted a marketing opportunity with the historic stately homes she visits for inspiration for her stories. 

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