The most telling insight into any author solutions service is the people behind the service. I’ve known senior staff in large publishing houses become chumps when they thought they could go out on their own and run a good author solutions service, and I have equally known authors who experienced the commercial publishing world, combined it with their own astute business acumen, and made a tremendous success of delivering and publishing good books on behalf of authors.
SilverWood Books is a Bristol-based publishing consultancy, helping writers get their work into print by offering self-publishing services and commercial contracts for some non-fiction book projects through their SilverWood Originals imprint. Crucially, SilverWood doesn’t present itself as a publisher, but rather, the company offers advice and partnership services and bespoke services to authors wishing to self-publish. Describing what the company offer as ‘empowered publishing’ (I’m always wary when companies devise their own labels to describe what they do), SilverWood Books supports the serious self-publisher –whether author, business or charity –with a range of professional services from copy-editing, proofreading and book jacket design, through to author promotion and book marketing.
“SilverWood Books offers a range of professional publishing services. I’m responsible for customer service, administration and project management.
If you’re thinking of self-publishing, or you’d like to chat about writing, simply send me a message and I’ll do my best to help!”
SilverWood Books started out with what I believe is the right mix of experience.
Helen Hart is a Senior Partner and oversees customer service, administration and project management.
“She has written a number of novels under pseudonyms for Scholastic, Virgin Books, OUP and HarperCollins, provided freelance editorial for Emap Magazines, and written copy for a range of commercial clients. One of her Young Adult novels, written as Maya Snow, was shortlisted for the Solihull Children's Book Award 2010. Read more at Helen's author site.
Helen is an Associate of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) and has attended the Society's certified courses in basic proofreading and copy-editing. She is currently involved with the Bristol Short Story Prize, an exciting international competition sponsored by Waterstones, and is on the judging panel for the 2011 competition.”
Adrian Hart is a senior partner responsible for design and promotion.
“[He] has over twenty years experience in Graphic Design which includes image development, typography, communication design and page layout. As a director of Redwing Adrian has created brands for major financial institutions, educational establishments, galleries and events organisers. For the past ten years he has been developing cross-media brands for a variety of clients, including publishers and booksellers, with particular emphasis on internet branding and website design.”
Richard Hallman is the third partner in the business and he is responsible for the maintainance and development of the SilverWood Books website and online bookshop.
“[Hallman] of e-commerce specialists Redwing Interactive has over ten years experience in database engineering. He was instrumental in the development and early success of the ms-dos-based package Bestseller, which was for many years the leading bookshop stock management system. Richard was also part of the Triptych team (responsible for the development of bookpages.com, the forerunner of amazon.co.uk). For the past ten years he has been developing and building websites for a variety of clients including publishers and booksellers.”
Sarah Newman is responsible for author liaison, book design and administration.
“[Newman] has more than ten years experience of liaising with customers and clients. One of her key strengths is organising and interpreting information, which makes her ideally suited to working with books.“
I like the fact that SilverWood Books is transparent and freely list the freelance partners the company uses in media and public relations.
The biggest mistake for companies providing author solutions services is often the impression the company makes on prospective authors on their main webpage. So many companies scream ‘author driven’, suggesting the ethos of the company is to derive profit from the sale of packaged services to authors rather than having any real provisions and services in place for the sale of books. You might even forgive SilverWood for making this mistake as their customers at first-hand are authors. Actually SilverWood not only drive the sales of their author’s books through their marketing endeavours, but prominently display books on their website and drive online sales to a their bookshop. The online bookshop is highlighted right up at the top of the main webpage next to the company’s logo with at least a third of the webpage taken up with books published by SilverWood.
The books I have seen by SilverWood are competitively priced and with average to strong cover design. An average 200pp book retails at about £10, though postage and packing can add £2 plus on to the price for UK delivery direct from the company and with sites like Amazon and the Book Depository offering free shipping, readers may get a better deal there. This is a commercial reality many small presses have to deal with.
SilverWood Books offer three publishing packages; Poetry & Short Fiction, Novels & Longer Prose, and a Business/Academic/Bespoke package.
The Poetry & Short Fiction package (£595) limits an author to a book of 160 pages and this may prove restrictive for some authors wanting to opt for this entry level package. I say entry level, but it does provide the self-publishing essentials an author will require to publish their book and services other author solutions service do not include.
- Personal support
- Project management to prepare manuscript
- Trim Choice of paperback or hardback book sizes B-Format (200mm x 132mm), A5 (210mm x 148mm) or Demy (216mm x 140mm).
- Internal Page-layout formatting using Adobe InDesign®
- Maximum page count 160 printed pages.
- Colour custom book jacket (includes use of author images or licensing for royalty-free library images)
- Inclusion of up to 8 images
- PDF proofs
- 1 ISBN and registration with Nielsen Bookdata and Bowker (ISBN is registered to SilverWood)
- Listed with major online retailers and SilverWood online bookshop
- Author sets retail price
- Orders fulfilment via major Gardners, Bertrams, Coutts Information Services and Macauley
- Cataloguing in Public Data (CIP) registration
- Advice about promoting book/support the basic level of online presence
- Legal Deposit Libraries of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
The Novels & Longer Prose package comes in at £895, and adds in an allowance for a book of 336pp and 12 internal images. I would like to go on but I can’t. That’s it – the difference between the two packages is really just book length.
Likewise, at £1250, the Business/Academic package caters for books of 800pp, but really we are dealing with three packages exactly the same bar book length and internal images required by the author and I am struggling to see how a difference of £655 explains the cost for essentially the set-up a book of 160 pages and another of 800 pages. I do appreciate the internal formatting for an academic or business book might be more complex than a standard novel, but I still feel this doesn’t warrant the charge. I know what printers charge in the UK and we have not even touched on physically printed copies up-front in these packages. I could understand these prices if there was an initial stock of short-run printed books included, but there is not.
Every book project is treated individually and SilverWood Books will advise an author on the most suitable print technology to be used – POD (print on demand), short-run or traditional offset printing. As a guide, SilverWood charge £1.20 (for a cover) + £0.01 per page on books printed using POD and printed books remain the property of the author with a percentage commission taken by SilverWood on sales they handle.
SilverWood Books need to look really hard at how these packages are presented, and it would make far more sense if the company presented a basic package at £595 with all the nuts and bolts, and listed all other print, size, and images requirements etc as additional bespoke services.
SilverWood do offer a terrific range of bespoke services from assessment, editing, marketing, consultancy and promotion as well as ebook publication. You can find full details of those services here.
SilverWood Books has specific submission requirements and authors are expected to supply copy-edited and proofread files for publication process. A full list of their guidelines can be found here.
As SilverWood Books state, the company is the choice for the serious self-publisher who can provide or is prepared to invest in having a fully edited and proofread manuscript (company will provide a full range of assessment and editing services). At that level of self-publishing, I think SilverWood Books would be better providing the option for an author to use their own allocated ISBN’s. An author won’t go far wrong working with and under the guidance of the publishing professionals working at SilverWood. At the core of this company is a structure which allows them work with an author while upholding the most important principles of good self-publishing – professionally edited books and quality designed and printed books.