Goodreads Blog

Self-Published Thriller 'Silent Child' Created Noise and a Goodreads Choice Nomination

Posted by Cynthia on November 02, 2017
The Goodreads Choice Awards surface some of the most popular books readers have enjoyed during the preceding year, and more and more self-published authors are starting to show up in the Opening Round. Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil is one of the five self-published titles nominated for an award this year, though more books will be introduced on November 7, when the number of write-ins get tallied up for the Semi-Final round.

The dark psychological thriller has been generating buzz among readers since it was first published in January. We asked Sarah, who is based in the UK and also writes Young Adult books under the name Sarah Dalton, to share some thoughts about the nomination, her approach to book promotion and marketing, and what she will do if she wins.

Congrats on the Goodreads Choice Award nomination! How did you react when you found out?

Shocked and happy! I kept looking at the other authors in my category and feeling overwhelmed that Silent Child is among them. There are #1 New York Times bestsellers and authors who have movies made of their films, and then there’s me with a cover I made myself and a book I had no idea would ever do this well.

Tell us about the publication process of your book. What was harder than you thought, and what was easier?

Well, almost everything went wrong before the publication of Silent Child! My computer died, which meant I couldn’t work on the file for some time, and at one point I thought I’d lost the most recent version with some new edits on the document.

For the first time in ages I’d actually set up a publication date and lined up a few ARC reviews and almost missed that deadline because of all the issues that kept cropping up. The book ended up a lot longer than I’d anticipated, so proofreading took longer, and then the file was ‘stuck’ in publication for a few days, which sometimes happens when you self-publish. I made the deadline by the skin of my teeth!


Rate this book
Clear rating
What has your approach been to how you interact with readers?

It’s wonderful that readers can contact me so easily via a platform like Goodreads, or on social media. I read my messages and reply. I tend to stay away from the reviews as they are a space for readers, not authors. Recently I’ve really enjoyed writing up a few reviews of books I’ve especially enjoyed.

What has been your most successful strategy for raising awareness for your book?

To me, the best marketing strategy is making sure the book has an excellent cover that conveys the genre, the blurb is compelling, and the introductory price is low. For books written in a very popular genre those components are extremely strong.

What do you enjoy about Goodreads?

I’ve really enjoyed revisiting some of my favourite books and writing a short review explaining why I enjoyed the book so much. What always surprises me is that other Goodreads users like my reviews, which indicates they find them useful! I’ve always been a little reticent about giving my opinion on other work (as a writer myself) but it’s fantastic to see other users interacting and enjoying reading my opinion on some great literature.

What advice would you give other self-published authors?

The story is so important. Readers want a great story more than anything. Hone your craft, do your research, back up your work, keep going, outsource where you can, get involved in the community.

What books are you reading right now? What books in other categories do you hope win an award?

I just finished reading The Birds, and I’ve also had the pleasure of reading an ARC for thriller writer friend Shalini Boland. Right now I’m browsing the Choice nominations adding scores of books to my already insanely long TBR! I’m also a YA writer, and I loved One of Us is Lying and I love the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve heard great things about Little Fires Everywhere but I haven’t read it yet! Basically, I need to read a lot faster!

What are you working on now?

I’m working on edits for my fourth psychological thriller, which is about a nurse who works at a high-security psychiatric hospital and believes her patient might be innocent of the crime she allegedly committed.

What will you do if you win the award?

Allow myself out of the writer’s cave for a glass of champagne. Or eat an entire cake!

Silent Child is nominated in the Best Mystery & Thriller category in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017. See all the nominees here and be sure to cast your vote for your favorite books in every round. Winners will be announced December 5.

Sarah will be answering questions the week of November 12 in the comment section below! Leave a question or post a comment for her to see, or ask her via Ask the Author on her Sarah Dalton profile.

Next: Why It's an Honor Just to Be Nominated

You might also like: The Author Published Herself in This One... and Wins a Goodreads Choice Award

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings.

Comments Showing 1-43 of 43 (43 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ray (new)

Ray Litt Congrats, Sarah! Thanks for giving us self-pubs a good success story. Wishing you the very best.


message 2: by Rick (new)

Rick Maloy Good luck, Sarah. I hope you get to eat that whole cake. A wonderful, grounded aspiration.


message 3: by Pearl (new)

Pearl Meaker Well done, Sarah! We all need the encouragement of other self-published author's successes! Best of Luck!


message 4: by Leo (new)

Leo . Congrats Sarah! As a first time author I am so pleased for you. Well done. I feel inspired.


message 5: by Turab (new)

Turab Dedanwala Good luck - best wishes and hope the Silent Child awakens in world
of book lovers - I am the humble one.


message 6: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Harstad Best wishes on your nomination, Sarah! And thanks for sharing your great advice.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Makechnie Congrats, Sarah - I look forward to reading this! Publication is a long and lonely road, but YOU DID IT. Awesome. Keep up your great work.


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Really cool, I will have to read your book


message 9: by J. (new)

J. Congrats, Sarah, so happy to see an Indie Author earn respect in the marketplace. I am curious about the ARC line up you did ahead of time. Can you tell us more about what you did and how it worked?


message 10: by Joe (new)

Joe Shumock Congratulations, Sarah. It isn't easy, but you have paid your dues. May you continue the success. Joe Shumock, Author


message 11: by Stirling (new)

Stirling Davenport So glad you got the award, Sarah. Thanks for sharing your insights. Very encouraging to the rest of us.


message 12: by A.E. (new)

A.E. Bartlett Congratulations


message 13: by Robert (new)

Robert J. Jr. Good for you, Sarah, you deserve it! In his book, Dreaming Of Babylon, Richard Brautigan's character complains, " Why can't life be as simple as it could be?" Well, I guess sometime it is!


message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Ray wrote: "Congrats, Sarah! Thanks for giving us self-pubs a good success story. Wishing you the very best."

Thanks so much! :)


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Rick wrote: "Good luck, Sarah. I hope you get to eat that whole cake. A wonderful, grounded aspiration."

Thank you! I've been healthy eating recently and it's so hard. I think a day off is in order! There's definitely a cake out there with my name on it. :)


message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Lowe Congrats, Sarah! You're an inspiration. :)


message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil J. wrote: "Congrats, Sarah, so happy to see an Indie Author earn respect in the marketplace. I am curious about the ARC line up you did ahead of time. Can you tell us more about what you did and how it worked?"

There's a great book club on Facebook called THE Book Club and they allow authors to offer review copies to some of their members. They are mostly UK based readers and absolutely love mystery and thriller books. I think about 20 people reviewed the book from there. I actually haven't got an ARC team at the moment but I was lucky enough to get good sales right from the publication date which resulted in reviews coming in quite quickly anyway.


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Pearl wrote: "Well done, Sarah! We all need the encouragement of other self-published author's successes! Best of Luck!"

Thank you! It'd be great to see more self-published books in the mix next year. I think we will. There are some fantastic authors out there.


message 19: by G.H. (new)

G.H. Eckel Getting nominated has certainly brought my attention to your novel. I look forward to reading it. Best wishes in the contest. But really, you've already won!


message 20: by J. (new)

J. Sarah wrote: "J. wrote: "Congrats, Sarah, so happy to see an Indie Author earn respect in the marketplace. I am curious about the ARC line up you did ahead of time. Can you tell us more about what you did and ho..."

Sarah, thanks for the insight. I have struggled with the ARC thing and want to get better at it in the future. Again, best with the awards.


message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil J. wrote: "Sarah wrote: "J. wrote: "Congrats, Sarah, so happy to see an Indie Author earn respect in the marketplace. I am curious about the ARC line up you did ahead of time. Can you tell us more about what ..."

I know a lot of authors struggle with ARCs. Plus Amazon tend to delete reviews if there's any kind of personal connection with the reviewer - such as being Facebook friends. In some genres I don't actually think you need them as much as other genres. Thrillers usually attract a lot of reviews anyway. But it might be a good idea to check out Facebook groups and Goodreads groups for reviewers because at least then you won't have any connection to the actual reviewers. :)


message 22: by Vicky (new)

Vicky Bates Sarah I needed to see these encouraging words today!
You work so hard to write and rewrite and then you think at least someone could read it! That's a ha ha
Congratulations
Vicky
Empty Jacket


message 23: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Vega Hi Sarah:

Congrats on all your success. What three things have you done, to proactively promote your book? How are you getting your reviews?


message 24: by James (new)

James Best Congratulations !! I know as an Indie Author we do need to see more writers like yourself getting these incredible honors. Way to go and I am proud of you.


message 25: by Sarah (last edited Nov 13, 2017 09:53AM) (new)

Sarah Denzil Phillip wrote: "Hi Sarah:

Congrats on all your success. What three things have you done, to proactively promote your book? How are you getting your reviews?"


Thank you!

I was very lucky to get a lot of organic sales after publishing Silent Child. I can't honestly say that my marketing contributed to many of those sales! But I did use social media to announce the book - on Facebook, Twitter and my mailing list (which is not as large as many other authors' mailing list!). I priced the book at 99p as an introductory price and I ran some Facebook adverts to help direct sales.

For reviews I did request some from a Facebook group who enjoy thrillers - The Book Club. But aside from that I allowed reviews to come in naturally.


message 26: by Monica (new)

Monica Starkman Congratulations. The reward of every novelist is the pleasure of her readers - and you have certainly achieved that.


message 27: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Congrats. Its fantadtic to see an indie suthor nominated. Good luck!!


message 28: by F. (new)

F. Bennett Congratulations, Sarah! This is a great, inspiring testimony tailor- made for indie authors like myself and all the other authors who left a comment. F. H. Belfus-Bennett, Author of "Saturday Night Dead"


message 29: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Caffrey Congratulations, Sarah. What an inspiration. So timely, as I am about to publish my indie book this week (maybe). Looking forward to reading yours. Best, Michelle Caffrey, author of "Bring Jade Home: The True Story of a Dog Lost in Yellowstone."


message 30: by Aarti (new)

Aarti Patel Hi Sarah, big congrats to you! I'm interested in reading your book, and I love the cover. You mentioned you made it yourself. What was the process you chose for creating the cover?

Aarti


message 31: by Ksenia (new)

Ksenia Anske So happy for you!!! You're an inspiration.


message 32: by Maria (new)

Maria Hernandez Congratulations Sarah and thank you for giving me hope as a self published author.


message 33: by K.L. (new)

K.L. Loveley Sincere congratulations Sarah and thank you for sharing your marketing ideas. Your words are so encouraging. There are many changes taking place in the world of publishing, no less the large publishing companies are now not the only route for would-be authors. Hybrid publishing is also available for new authors, who maybe struggle with the publication or marketing process. A good example being. 'The Globeflower Agency'.
You have a lot to be proud of. Well done.


message 34: by Keesya (last edited Nov 14, 2017 03:32AM) (new)

Keesya Hill-Jones Congratulations! As a self-published author - I'm so glad to see all your hard work has paid off. Best of luck to you and all your current and future projects.


message 35: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Aarti wrote: "Hi Sarah, big congrats to you! I'm interested in reading your book, and I love the cover. You mentioned you made it yourself. What was the process you chose for creating the cover?

Aarti"


Thanks Aarti! For the cover I started by browsing covers by popular thriller authors and then imagining what I wanted mine to look like. The first variation was of a boy running through the woods, but I felt like the stock images didn't look quite right. Then I saw the cover for Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris and loved the door and how it conveyed genre while at the same time it was really simple. I didn't want to copy the cover, but I knew something similar would work for my book. I searched through many, many stock images until I found the right one that conveyed the tone and genre of the book. I've spent a few years practising image manipulation so I was able to tweak the image and choose a decent font.

Most of the time, finding the right stock image is half the battle with a cover :)

The other half is finding the right font!!


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Maria wrote: "Congratulations Sarah and thank you for giving me hope as a self published author."

Thank you!

And I just want to say that there are so many options for self-published authors. Many self-publishers have the advantage. You can write in whatever genre you want, you can experiment, you can choose the right cover, talk to readers directly, find the best editor for you, write as quickly or as slowly as you want and at the end of the day, you keep a bigger share of the royalties.

Good luck with your books!


message 37: by Marian (last edited Nov 15, 2017 12:11PM) (new)

Marian Armstrong Good for you! Will read your book asap. I too am a self-published
author of a memoir, Astonishments, but enjoy reading all genres. Your success is inspiring. Good luck!
Marian Armstrong Rogers

PS: what is ARC?


message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Marian wrote: "Good for you! Will read your book asap. I too am a self-published
author of a memoir, Astonishments, but enjoy reading all genres. Your success is inspiring. Good luck!
Marian Armstrong Rogers

PS..."


Hi Marian,

Thanks so much! Enjoy the book! An ARC is an advanced review copy. It's usually a copy of the book given out to reviewers ahead of the book release.

Hope that helps!

Sarah


message 39: by Marian (new)

Marian Armstrong Bought your book today. Have to finish 3 from library first but am looking forward to yours. Thanks for arc! I'm a bit less ignorant now!
Best,
Marian


message 40: by Carolynne (new)

Carolynne Raymond Congratulations :-)


message 41: by Tricia (new)

Tricia Van I loved everything you said. Your advice to we who are new to the publishing and marketing game was very helpful. Congratulations your book is wonderful and I hope you win.


message 42: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Denzil Tricia wrote: "I loved everything you said. Your advice to we who are new to the publishing and marketing game was very helpful. Congratulations your book is wonderful and I hope you win."

Ahh, thank you so much! I really hope you're right and this does help authors just starting out. :)


message 43: by Tracee (new)

Tracee Raptis Congratulations! Quite an inspiration for a first time author like me! Yay! I hope you win!!


back to top