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Celebrating 12 years of SilverWood Books

Published: 3 Apr 2019


To celebrate our twelfth anniversary at the end of March, we’ve asked Publishing Director Helen Hart to take us back to where it all started. She shares the story of why she founded SilverWood Books. And we reveal the secret ingredients it’s taken to make the company what it is today: an independent, supportive self-publishing company delivering the highest quality books previously only seen in the mainstream publishing world. Subsequently, her whole team recognises the power of writing as a creative outlet, books become a form of therapy, learning and support for both the author and the readers.



Helen is a prolific reader with a passion for books which started in her early years:

Helen says, "From the age of seven, I was massively into reading; I’d even take the characters from my favourite Enid Blyton books and write new adventures for them. When it came to choosing subjects at school, I really wanted to take History - but there was a timetable clash with the sciences, we had to take one of them - which meant I did Biology instead. For my A-levels, I did study English Literature and French but, despite my love of writing, my family felt it would never make a living and advised me to have a Plan B. So, I went on to train in nursing and then midwifery."

Her experience as a published mainstream author means familiarity with the whole industry:

After 10 years as a nurse and midwife, Helen returned to her love of writing. She developed a successful freelance career, writing novels under several different pen names and articles for magazines, like the hugely popular consumer magazine, FHM. Her books have been published by HarperCollins, Oxford University Press, Scholastic and she was one of the authors writing under a pseudonym for Working Partners, prolific in creating and commissioning books for children and teens. With translations into many different languages, including Swedish, Greek, and Japanese, her career as an author has given her a deep understanding of the writing process and how it feels for authors. In addition, she has brought her wider experience into how the company functions, while creating an experience as close as possible to that of mainstream publishing.

A publishing business designed to support the team as well as the authors

"Every skill I learned as a nurse and midwife is still applied in my business today. The NHS was well-organised, we had clear step-by-step procedures for every task, making it easy to train junior staff up quickly. That principle has stood me in good stead for growing SilverWood Books, because there’s so much for a publishing assistant to learn when they join the team."

Nurture for the authors and their creativity

Helen founded SilverWood Books when an author and friend experienced a rejection by mainstream publishers. Helen loved the book concept: however, she was sceptical about the quality of services offered by other self-publishers at the time. She recognised the role of the publisher to nurture the author’s talent, something which was missing from self-publishing.

To contrast with what’s on offer elsewhere, she puts the author, their needs and aims for the book at the heart of what SilverWood does. Her aim is to develop a close working relationship with them to realise the dream of creating a book exactly as they imagine. For every step of their publishing journey, SilverWood closely mirrors the process of mainstream publishing to achieve a high-quality book at the end of it.

"This has been a true partnership - akin to what I would expect from a mainstream publisher. The level of input, editing and design was much more than I expected from a self-publishing deal." (Graham Cawley)

Constructive appraisal to steer the success of each book

"Because of my own experience as a published author, we offer manuscript appraisal - giving a professional reader’s report on the quality of the work. We do turn down certain fiction manuscripts if we feel they’re not commercially viable - unless the author has specified they want a short print run solely for family and friends. Conversely, if we spot a manuscript we think could succeed with the backing of a mainstream literary agent, we’ll encourage the author to seek representation. We recognise that, while self-publishing is a positive, it can’t always match the credibility, marketing and distribution power of a mainstream publishing house."

All elements of a self-published book must be outstanding, if that book is going to compete in today’s crowded marketplace. The whole publishing team at SilverWood is trained to focus on quality, giving the authors the best possible chance of persuading bookshops to stock their book.

Helen sums up, "Our goal is to really look after our authors; we care about them and their books. Our clients continue to return to SilverWood Books because they say they didn’t realise how far SilverWood Books will go to support them and create exactly the book they wanted."

Read more about the impact SilverWood has had on its authors in our series 'Author Success Stories'. 

“The personal service I received was superior. No query or problem was left unanswered or unattended.”

Nicholas King