Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Olive O'Brien on starting Silver Angel Publishing

I always intended to write a book, particularly one for children. But with a hectic work schedule and with so many other things going on in my life, I just never got around to doing it.
This all changed in 2008 when I set off on a solo trip around the world. It was a real eye opener and I returned to Ireland a very different person. I took this as an opportunity to write a book and a few months later, my first book Perry the Playful Polar Bear was finished. 

As I had put some time into writing my first story, I really wanted to see it in print. However, I found out pretty quickly that as printing costs are so high, most Irish publishers don’t publish picture books. As traditional publishing wasn’t an option, I started to look into the whole area of self-publishing.
I never worked in publishing and had so many questions such as; how do you self publish a book? How do you sell and promote it?!
Fortunately, Dan Poynter’s Self Publishing Manual (a must-read for anyone who is considering publishing their own book) answered some of these questions and I began to take the first tentative steps towards publishing my own book.
I decided to set up my own publishing company, Silver Angel Publishing to publish and distribute my children’s book. First, I needed an illustrator and looked at several portfolios before I decided on an amazing illustrator called Nina Finn-Kelcey, who has worked with me over the last two years. With the number of illustrations, I also felt that it would be best to employ a graphic designer to design the cover, lay out the interior and prepare it for print.
Once the file was print-ready, I sourced a printer. A local company gave me a competitive price and I printed 1,000 copies of my book. So, my first book Perry the Playful Polar Bear was printed and ready to go.
Now all I had to do was sell it.
An independent bookshop in Cork agreed to hold my first launch in November 2009 and I managed to blag some press attention. An article on the book and launch appeared in a local newspaper which was followed by positive reviews in the Irish Examiner and Primary Times. My book also won the children’s books category in the 2009 DIY Book Festival which honours the best of independent and self-published books.
The launch and subsequent sales exceeded my expectations, which prompted me to release a second children’s book, Perry the Polar Bear Goes Green in 2010.  This eco-friendly book teaches children about the effects of global warming through the eyes of a polar bear cub and has drawn plaudits from the INTO for making the recycling process accessible and compelling to children.
Shortly after the launch of my second book, I set up an online writing community which offers online and correspondence writing courses. Until then I distributed my books through my website however I found myself becoming busier and busier. So, I went about sourcing a distributor and luckily Gill and Macmillan agreed to take on my books. I also employed a book sales agent which freed up a considerable amount of time.
My third and most recent book Eco Zico was released at the end of 2010 which shows children how everyday actions can make a difference to the world around them and earlier this month, an interactive book app for the iPad was launched on iTunes (link: based on Eco Zico.
It has been a major learning experience, but one that has proven worthwhile. I not only love writing children’s books, but also enjoy visiting schools and libraries around Ireland to carry out book readings and workshops. In addition, Silver Angel Publishing was recently shortlisted for the 2012 David Manley Emerging Entrepreneur Awards. My books are available in major book chains and independent bookstores across the country and are distributed in the United Kingdom by various educational suppliers.  
The United States is the next port of call, which will be a tough nut to crack but fingers crossed for next year. I also hope to publish a fourth children’s book in the New Year and you can check out my website at for updates
Follow me on twitter at @oliveobrien or find me on facebook at Books available for purchase at


Titus said...

Enjoyed that. Hats off to you, Olive.

maryhealybooks said...

Great story Olive, you're one of the most pro active writer's on the market at the moment!
Well done,you give great heart to us all.
Mary Healy