Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Next Chapter - Beating Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book Volume 2!

This week I took my first photo for the second book in the Beating Bowel Cancer series. Yes that's right book 2 is on the way! The adverse weather conditions in London on Thursday night means it is unlikely that the photo included here will make it into the book, but it was good to finally get out with the camera now that I have decided to do a second book. At this stage I am going to try out a few ideas and see how it goes before I decide on the theme and style of the book. The book will have a similar vibe to the first one, but it won't just be a case of 30 more random photos. I am going to try and come up with an interesting concept and do my very best to make the second book better than the first!

I can happily report that mum is currently in good health and had a good result when she had her last blood tests in November and is in remission with no more appointments until next spring. However I haven't forgotten that this disease is also a devastating taker of lives and only a couple of days ago I found out that one of the guys who works for one of my suppliers lost his daughter to bowel cancer in 2012. She was just 35 years old and sadly died 5 weeks after diagnosis, which came too late to save her. Bowel cancer can affect all ages not just the over 60s. And as much as raising funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, it is so important that we are all aware of this disease and how early detection makes it very treatable with a 95% survival rate. If the books can help that in any way then they are doing their job.

As the book takes shape I will post updates on its progress, and hopefully it will be published in time to put in your 2014 Christmas stockings! Remember the first book is still available and every penny that comes to me goes to Beating Bowel Cancer. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Perfect Stocking Filler

If you are short of gift ideas this Christmas and are looking for a stocking filler then why not treat a family member or a friend to a copy of the charity book. You can either gift them a physical copy of the book or a kindle version and by doing so you will also be making a valuable contribution to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. With the total amount raised so far at about £400 it would be nice to have a Christmas boost in sales and push on towards £500.

This Christmas scene from Henley in 2011 features in the book so you can read all about how I captured the shot and the story behind it. 

Thanks to everyone who has supported the book this year and a very Merry Christmas to one and all :)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Happy Birthday

The Beating Bowel Cancer fundraising book is 1 year old today. Happy Birthday!!! It has been an amazing year and the book has been on quite a journey! A year ago today I ordered the first paperback and kindle versions of the book with great excitement. With a kindle you get an instant copy so I was immediately able to see my book in print, and if I say so myself I was delighted with the end result. I had thought the taking of photos and the writing was going to be the hard part, but in reality it has been the continuous marketing and promotion of the book that has been the biggest challenge over the last year.

All along I have said it has been my aim to sell 1000 copies of the book and at around 275 copies I am still a long way off that target, but you never know and I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Along with the Justgiving donations the current fundraising figure is around £400. In terms of fundraising maybe there are better ways to raise funds as if 275 people had sponsored me £5-10 ahead to do a marathon for example the amount raised would have been significantly higher. However the fact is that this book has reached so mnay more people than I could ever have got to sponsor me to do a run!

The initial support from family and friends was brilliant, and even some of mum's non-computer literate friends were giving me money to order copies online for them. I had contacted the Beating Bowel Cancer charity and their support has been fabulous all along. They contacted local press and articles on the book were done in all the local rags, and they are in regular touch and offering support. The biggest group of people to come on board were the cancer patients and their families and friends. That side has been truly heartwarming with many people fighting the battles of their lives still making time to support my little venture. Sadly not all patients make it, and I know that we have been very fortunate to have mum come through her treatment.

I have tweeted endlessly, so for those of you reading this nodding your heads I can only apologise, but it is one of the best ways of reaching a wider audience. I have pushed it on Facebook and once again it probably appears a bit tiresome at times... Whoops! I have lowered the price, raised the price and even given the book away free for 24 hours in attempts to raise its profile and generate sales. I have tried to get everyone to get a friend to buy the book. I have left copies of the book at railways stations in the hope the books would go on their own journeys, which unfortunately didn't take off. There has been some overseas interest although maybe not as much as I had hoped. It may be raising funds for a British charity but this vile illness devastates globally. So anyone reading this from outside the UK please buy the book :) Ultimately though self promotion is hard work and sales have dwindled to pretty much nothing alas. To date the book hasn't sold a single copy this month.

It was interesting though to realise just how important raising awareness is of bowel cancer. So when book sales slowed I did not lose heart as another big job the book is doing is helping to raise awareness. The fact is that if bowel cancer is caught early 95% of patients survive the disease for 5 years or more. It does remain the second biggest cancer killer.

I am still pondering whether it is worth publishing a second book. I am thinking I probably will, although it will have to be something slightly different as I would want people to be interested in not only supporting the charity, but also to be interested in buying a second book... The other fundraising idea for 2014 is a mountain hike with Mount Snowdon in September the current favourite.

So as the book enters its second year I would like to thank everyone one who has kindly bought the book and helped and supported me. I am sure the second year will have its moments and let's see where we are in 12 months time.

Finally mum had a 6 month check up at the beginning of November and 14 months after her bowel operation she is still clear and in remission. She has been through an awful including two operations at the start of this year to remove nodules from her lungs. So 3 big operations in 6 months and she has come through the lot without complaining and has made a remarkable recovery. Not bad for a senior citizen closer to 80 than 70! :)

 Please please please if you have a little spare cash and want to support the charity buy my little book and make a little difference :) Spread the word, share this blog and help the book raise as much money as possible. Every single penny I receive goes to Beating Bowel Cancer.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Windsor Castle at Night

One of my favourite chapters in the book is the one featuring Windsor Castle photographed at night. The chapter describes how I took this photo using my car roof as a make shift tripod and describes my childhood memories of my late father taking us to Windsor. It also mentions talk of our toy soldiers collection, my father's work in Windsor in polythene manufacturing, also how I played my part in the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, and not least how we used to drive into the castle itself. 

Nighttime photography can be tricky and I have always got my best shots with a little planning in advance, but even then I usually end up playing with the camera settings rather than relying on preset nighttime settings.

The idea behind the book was to take visually interesting photos and then personalise the text with what the photos mean to me using recollections of events when growing up. The fundraising book has 30 such chapters and all the money raised is going to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

What Next?

So what next I ask myself? The target of achieving 1000 book sales seems a very long way off now. Sales have trailed off over recent months and I must admit I am at a loss of what else I can do to generate sales. Sales currently stand at 270 which has been a great achievement and the support out there has been magnificent, but it has now been 6 weeks since a copy was sold. I could of course do another free book promotion, which is good for the sales stats, but will not benefit the charity. So the book is going through a challenging period, but I am not quite ready to throw the towel in yet, although it does make me question whether there is an appetite out there for a second book? I have an idea in mind if I do go down that route, but I will not make any decision on that yet. I will keep pushing the book and will try and come up some fresh marketing strategies. All suggestions on that score are most welcome.

I am determined to continue to support the Beating Bowel Cancer charity though, and with that in mind plans are forming for the next fundraising venture in 2014 when I will hopefully be joined by a few friends to walk up a mountain. Mount Snowdon in September is looking like the favourite at this stage, but don't rule out Ben Nevis either...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

September Price Reduction on the Kindle Version of the Book

Over recent months the sales of the book have slowed down to a virtual standstill. During the first 27 days of August the book has sold 1 single copy. I value every single sale very highly and in fact the buyer of the August sale contacted me and I found out about yet another bowel cancer connection. The support from the bowel cancer community has been truly amazing. I have come to the conclusion that the book is getting close to the end of its life span certainly in terms of sales, and in spite of trying to keep the sales moving it seems to be a losing battle. So I have come to a difficult decision to alter the price of the kindle version of the book. This is a very difficult decision not least because the only way I can reduce the price on Amazon is to reduce my royalties from 70% down to 35%. So unfortunately the amount that gets donated to the charity goes down. However my view is that if I can increase sales then it is worth a try, because as things stand the fundraising effort has pretty ground to a halt. I totally appreciate the efforts and generous contributions of those who bought the book at its original price, but I hope that they will understand it is better in terms of fundraising that it is better to keep things moving and donations coming in even if they will be less per unit sale. If this doesn't work I will put the price back to its original status and accept that sales of the book will be slow until I come up with some kind of new marketing ploy. I think the lower price is worth a try?

So come on people for less than £1 you can get hold of the Kindle edition and help raise funds for Beating Bowel Cancer just click here.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Calling The Rest of The World


The vast majority of sales so far have been in the United Kingdom, which when I think about it is not so surprising. I live here, my family are here and most of closest friends live here so as the book began its life the net that it spread originated from close to home. Also Beating Bowel Cancer is a UK based charity and perhaps this puts off people from abroad? I don't know about that so much...

When I made the kindle version of the book available for 24 hours a few months the uptake was excellent and especially so in the United States where about 50 people took advantage and downloaded the book. Slightly disappointingly I have not managed a single paid download in the USA since then.

Bowel Cancer like any cancer is not just a UK health killer, it can devastate families all on every corner of this planet. I have sold 269 copies to date and with the justgiving page the fundraising tally is around £400 now, and every single penny I get goes to the charity. Not only would overseas sales be a vital and much appreciated source of revenue for the charity, but also equally as important is that every single sale no matter in which country helps raise awareness about the disease.

So come on the world please support this fundraising cause :)

So where ns the world was the photo taken?

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Price is Right

Come on down the price is right! Eight months ago the paperback version of the book cost £7.21 from Amazon with my £1.01 all going to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. Amazon then reduced the price to £6.49 whilst continuing to give me the £1.01 for each sale. The good news is that they have just reduced the price again, and the book now costs £5.52 with the same amount coming to me and the charity. This price reduction can only help the fundraising efforts and brings the price a little closer to that of the kindle version, which still costs £1.65 with £0.97 going to the charity. Sales stand at about 262 at the moment so I still have a very long way to go to reaching the magic 1000. The support so far has been fantastic and I can't say how much I appreciate it. For those reading this still undecided please buy the book and make a difference to bowel cancer. It is the book raising funds for bowel cancer, that is not about cancer...

Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Retirement Mum

Mum was unable to work during her treatment for bowel cancer. Even at an age when she should have stopped working years ago she continued to enjoy doing her 2 half days each week working as a receptionist at the doctor's surgery. In fact this job probably played a big part in saving her life, because as soon as she realised something was wrong they sent her straight to the hospital for tests and therefore the cancer was caught quite early. I now appreciate more than ever just how fortunate she was, as many bowel cancer patients have not been so lucky :( 

It was important for mum to return to her job after her treatment. Just being able to return to work after everything she has been through was a massive achievement, but there is no doubt that the 3 operations she has had have possibly led to her to coming to the decision to retire a little sooner than she ideally would have wished. But now is the time for her to just enjoy life and do all the things she wants to do without having to worry about how much holiday she has left to take etc.

She has worked at the surgery for over 30 years and they gave her a lovely send off on her last day. She got a "retirement" rose, balloons, a beautiful card and they put on a great spread. Knowing her love of the garden they also very generously gave her gardening vouchers, and with some of those vouchers she bought the cherry in the photo which we have just planted. What my late father would think of a cherry in the middle of his lawn I dread to think! :) 

It's a well earned retirement and let's hope she has many more years of retirement to enjoy now that she is post treatment. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

In Remission

It's been quite an emotional week in our family. The fantastic news we got at the appointment with the consultant on Wednesday was that the recent scans mum had showed no sign of cancer and she is in remission! The scans were the first she had undergone since surgery 3 months ago so it was a nerve wracking time waiting for the results. This now means no more scans this year and next up will be blood tests in the autumn, so mum will really be able to kick on with her life and not have to worry about further treatment. Of course we are also well aware that the cancer could come back, but fingers crossed mum has seen the last of it. She will certainly be able to enjoy life and every single day now more than ever. It was nice getting the news this week as we also have the sad anniversary of losing dad 4 years ago so it was quite apt that it happened now as I am sure he is smiling down on us from somewhere :)

I actually took the photo that same morning at work as my Beating Bowel Cancer postcards have arrived. I am planning to unleash 100 postcards over as wide an area as possible in the hope that those discovering them will get in touch with me. It's a good way of marketing the book and hopefully injecting some new momentum into it. June has been a quiet month with just 2 sales so far, making the total to date 259. I am finding it harder and harder now to generate sales. However just because mum is in remission does not mean I am ready to stop pushing the book. Far from it as the fight against this disease goes on and anything I can do to help raise some funds and awareness I will try as hard as I can.

Monday, 3 June 2013

The First Six Months

The book was let loose in the public domain 6 months ago in November 2012, when it seemed like the whole country was under water. At work my usual dog walking route was a mini lake where the Thames had burst its banks. At that same time mum was recovering from successful surgery on the bowel some 2 months earlier, however we also found out that she would be needing surgery on her left lung. So you could say it was a pretty full on time!

Looking back I didn't really give much thought as to how to market the book and pretty much uploaded the book to the Internet and went with it, but one lesson learned for next time... I knew that apart from friends and family, Facebook and Twitter would be my main form of attack in terms of social media. I had contacted the Beating Bowel Cancer charity to let them know what I was doing, and they were wonderfully supportive. In fact they proved to invaluable when it came to contacting the media, and the book ended up in 4 local papers in no small way down to the charity.

The support from friends and family in terms of buying the book has been terrific, and initially during the first few weeks it was these sales that were driving the book forwards. But then through Twitter the surprise package of the cancer community came through. I was hoping for support and encouragement from these amazing people, but in large numbers they have bought the book, reviewed the book and been incredibly positive and encouraging.

Over the last few months sales have tailed off. Sales are now at 257, which is still some way short of the 1000 copies I would love to sell. The addition of a justgiving page has meant the fundraising total is now approaching £400 and for that I am ever so grateful to everyone who has bought the book.

I am forever trying to come up with new ways to push the book forwards and increase sales, but it is a pretty tough and time consuming task. One successful way was to make the book free for 24 hours in a promotion recently, which lead to a surge of downloads. However that also defeated the object of the book in terms of trying to raise money so I made up the shortfall from that promotion to make sure the charity didn't miss out. No doubt going forward I will come up with new and different ideas, and I always open to new sggestions.

I recently tried sending 2 copies the book on a trip, with the hope the copies would get passed among different people each with their own story to tell of their interaction with the book. Unfortunately I haven't had any responses to date, but a 3rd and final attempt will soon be made on this front.

Mum continues to do ever so well, and she had a scan last week which we are hoping will show her to be all clear, and the results of that we will get in mid June.

This whole process has been pretty humbling for me as I have come into contact with so many brave and extraordinary people of which my mum is right up there with the best of them. I don't regret having done this for a moment and I haven't ruled out doing a 2nd book at some point in the future... Here's to the next 6 months! :)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Looking Forwards

Well here we are just 8 weeks after mum's 3rd major operation in 6 months. It makes such a lovely difference being in a photo with mum to just celebrate a nice occasion, namely my godmother Sybil's 80th birthday. As much as I have enjoyed taking or getting myself and mum photographed for the coverage of the book, this was just a special photo of mum and her two sons on a happy occasion. Her progress remains amazing and next up is a CT scan in June, which if still clear will put mum onto 6 monthly scans fingers crossed. 

After a pretty tough year, especially for mum of course, we are all finally able to look forwards with hope and optimism. Mum has gone back to her part time job one afternoon a week as a receptionist at the doctors surgery after a year off due to the cancer, and she has also been busy planning holidays which were also put on hold last year.

As I write this the book is very close to 250 sales, which has been an amazing effort by those who know me and probably more importantly those who don't. I am still aiming for the magic 1000 sales and if anyone has any ideas how I can push sales forward I would be very grateful as I am finding it more and difficult to get sales now. Lest I forget the star of the lunch and the photo is my four legged friend Bronson! :)

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Results of the Free Download Promotion

In terms of boosting units the free kindle give away on April 24th was a great success without doubt. 66 copies were downloaded boosting the total up to 242! For the first time shifted some units with 50 downloads from non UK people, so it all made for a very interesting day.

One of the main objectives for doing it was to help raise bowel cancer awareness and there is no doubt that with 66 people downloading the book who otherwise might not have means it succeeded on that score. Obviously my main aim with the book is to raise funds for the charity and giving it away doesn't help with that, although I am hoping that the increased downloads and exposure may result in some extra sales? I priced the kindle and paperback versions of the book as cheaply as I could so as to get the charity approx. £1 per sale, so I think £1.65 for a kindle download is a pretty reasonable price. I think I just have to accept that some people will always be on the look out for a freebie, but at least it might make people think about bowel cancer at the very least.

I have also been very mindful that for the people who have bought the book already this promotion might not sit easily with them. It was a difficult decision to take. I am hoping that some of those who downloaded the book yesterday might donate on the justgiving page if the book touches them. I have worked out that allowing for the tax on the overseas sales, the charity would have got about £50 if people had paid for their copies yesterday. Therefore I am donating £50 to the charity today to keep the figures straight, making sure the charity doesn't lose out and of course so that those who have donated already can be rest assured that everything keeps moving forwards on the fundraising front.

And so today the book resumes its normal fundraising life, and it appears to be back to normal with no sales from However a paperback copy has been sold in the UK so we are now at 243 copies so the book is approaching 250 sales and hitting the quarter mark of its final target of 1000 copies. How nice it would be if I could somehow generate paid sales like I did with free sales yesterday as I would reach that target in no time! :)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

World Book Night

I was wondering what I could do with the book to join in with World Book Night on April 23rd. I have to admit that I was unaware of this event until my friend and edit-in-chief Jo let me know about it. The idea is to give out books and encourage reading in those who usually will do anything they can to avoid reading a good book. Not only that it is about people and reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways, through the sharing of stories. If nothing else with its stories about the photos and in helping to raise bowel cancer awareness the book has certainly succeeded in touching and connecting with people.

The challenge for me is to actually give the book away for free! After all the main purpose of the book is to raise money for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, and giving it away for free won't do that. But in the bigger picture if in this instance I focus on the raising awareness factor then I believe that it is a good idea. Maybe anyone who does take advantage of the opportunity to get hold of it for nothing may consider making a small donation to the justgiving page?

The free give away of the kindle version of the book will begin at approx. 8:00am UK time on April 24th and will last for just 24 hours so don't miss out... Please share this information with as many people as possible and let's hope for a successful 4 hours in the life of the book. Happy World Book Night!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Book Trip

I am always looking for new ways to generate interest in the book, and to find ways that might increase sales. Recently I came across a blog which I thought was both interesting and very touching. The blog is telling the story of how a woman called Rachel has left 60 postcards around Paris as a starting point in a creative journey in telling the world about her mother who sadly passed away from cancer. Have a read it's a great blog.

It got me thinking as to whether I could do something similar along those lines with my book. So I decided to buy a copy and send it on a journey. The idea being that I would leave it somewhere for anyone to pick up and they would hopefully read it before leaving it for someone else to do the same and so on... Hopefully people will contact me with their stories of their part in the book trip and I will then document it on a new blog called

So copy number 173 was left at Henley Railway Station and is now somewhere on its own journey. The booktrip blog contains a much more detailed description of the idea and the story in depth of the starting point at Henley.

Book sales are now at 175, but at the moment I am split between waiting for news of where book 173 will turn up next and when book sale 176 will happen...

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Last Year

Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer almost exactly a year ago. During the last year she underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Mount Vernon hospital followed by an operation to remove the tumour at Wexham Park hospital in September 2012. The biopsy of the tumour that was removed showed that the treatment prior to surgery had made the tumour benign, which was good news.

All through the treatment for the bowel we had been made aware that there was a nodule on her left lung, which had shrunk with the chemo and radiotherapy. As soon as the bowel surgery was over attention was switched to this nodule and in January mum went into Harefield hospital to have the tumour removed. The bad news was that the scans prior to the operation showed up more nodules on both lungs, which meant she had to under go another operation on the right lung in March, six week after the left lung was operated on.

So as at April 2013 mum has had both operations making it a total of 3 major operations in 6 months. She has now had two follow up appointments and the news is very good. First she saw the lung surgeon and all the nodules they removed in the 2nd operation were non cancerous, which basically meant they only removed the one cancerous nodule from her lungs in 2 operations and that was the one that showed up in the early stages of the bowel treatment, which they removed in the first lung operation along with some non cancerous nodules. The lung surgeon was really pleased with mum and discharged her from her care. Next she saw the oncologist who was also really pleased, and has told her that no more treatment is planned. She has to go back for a CT scan in June and if that one is clear they won't do another one for a further 6 months. He played it straight and said that he couldn't guarantee that the cancer wouldn't reappear, but as things stand she is clear and able to totally pick up her life again. So today was really the news we have been hoping we would get for the last year, and I am having a celebratory beer as I type this :)

It has been an incredibly tough year for mum, with her whole life being put on hold. She has missed her part time job hugely and the people she works with. She hasn't been able to do as much with her horse as she would like, and holiday plans have been put on hold. But most of all she has had to endure the side effects of the chemo and radiotherapy, the post op trauma associated with removal of part of the bowel and the post op discomfort of the 2 lung operations. She has rarely complained and seems more worried about being a burden on others during this time. She has been truly inspirational.

As for me a year ago I had no intention of writing a book, in fact I knew precious little about bowel cancer. I am still not quite sure why I decided to do the book, but it has been one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of my life. I was very lucky to have Jo editing the book as with her help it became something a bit more than just one man's ramblings! The support for the book so far has been amazing from family, friends and an extraordinary number of people who I have not met. I cannot thank the cancer community enough, not just the Beating Bowel Cancer charity for its support, but the numerous individuals many of whom are going through their own cancer battles. Yet they still make time to support me and this venture at every stage. The whole experience has at times made me feel very humble, and no matter how hard life gets I have to remind myself that there are many people facing up to and fighting much bigger battles than me. Where the book goes from here I do not know. I am determined to keep pushing it, although the marketing and sales side has proved a massive challenge. How to find and engage the mass wider audience? If I can solve that then I am sure I will reach my target of 1000 sales :)

Please please please buy the book. You will not only be contributing to a worthy charity, but helping to raise bowel cancer awareness which is vitally important...

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Hard Graft Starts Here

After the first few months of selling copies of the book to family, friends and a particularly warm bowel cancer contingent on twitter, sales of the book have slowed down considerably in recent weeks. Of course there are only so many family and friends to sell the book too, and likewise on twitter the amazingly supportive bowel cancer crowd has only so many followers you can target. In fact I am amazed that I haven't come in for a bit of grief with all my repetitive tweets on twitter!

And so as Easter approaches and the book having been on sale for 5 months the hard graft begins. I still stand by aiming for my original target of 1000 copies, which would in theory raise £1000 for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. With sales standing at 166 after 5 months the odds are probably not in my favour of achieving this. What I need to do is find a way to target and connect with a new audience who can identify with both the cause and the book. Over the last 5 months my faith in human nature has been completely restored as the kindness and genuine support for the book has been fantastic, and it certainly makes the effort of doing it all worthwhile. On the weekend just gone at a reunion dinner a guy came up to me and handed over £20 to go into the justgiving pot. I find it interesting that the justgiving page has raised the same amount of money for the charity as the book has, and they seem to go well together...

And yet with all the endless tweeting, blogging and shameless book plugging the main focus for me remains my mum. Following on from surgery last September to remove the cancerous section from her bowel, she then had surgery to remove a nodule from her left lung in January. The bad news at that time was scans then showed up more nodules on her right lung meaning an additional operation in March. This has meant she has undergone 3 major operations in 6 months which is pretty intense for anyone let alone a senior citizen! Yet she doesn't complain, has taken everything that has been thrown at her with dignity and a steely determination to do everything she can to beat the disease. She is totally inspiring! All she wants two do is to pick up her life again and get back to some normality. Hopefully fingers crossed she is not too far away from that point now. The results from the first operation showed one nodule to be cancerous, which we had expected as it had been there all along, and all the rest were non-cancerous. We haven't had the results on the right lung yet, but just hoped the nodules they removed all turn out to be non-cancerous.

I will continue to put in the hard work into this fundraising book for as long as it takes, and for anyone who has already bought the book I really am ever so grateful. To all others please do whatever you can to support the book as the book's fortunes can change with just one sale.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Get A Friend To Buy The Book 2014

In 2013 I asked people who had brought the book for a little extra help in an attempt to boost sales raising funds and awareness for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity by trying to get a friend to buy the book. A year on I thought I would try this again and ask people to try and get just one person you know, friend or family member to buy the book. Apart from the obvious sales / fundraising benefits this could help breaking into a new layer of people and potential new sales leads. If there are multiple sales the book will rapidly climb the Amazon book chart, which itself will increase the book's presence.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Generosity & Kindness

The fact that all the proceeds are being donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer Charity means that the book was always going to sell more copies than if it had just been done for my own benefit to raise some extra pocket money. Aside from the importance of raising money for the charity and raising awareness about bowel cancer, the best thing to come out of the book has been the unwavering generosity and kindness of people. The fact that in a world where there is a global recession, there are still many people out there willing to part with some cash is heart warming.

I have to say that my friend Joanne who edited the book and made sure the text was readable did all her work on it out of sheer kindness, and also while fighting her own cancer battle. It was a wonderfully kind spirited thing she did, and I am eternally grateful as the book would not have been what it is without her help.

The first port of call when the book was released were friends and family. My brother didn't even wait for the UK Amazon release and ordered a copy from CreateSpace in the USA, which unfortunately meant he had to wait quite some time for his copy to arrive in the UK. The pattern was familiar amongst those who know me in that they bought the book out of support for me and what I am doing without worrying too much about what they would be getting in return for their purchase. Fortunately everyone so far seems to like the book and it has had some lovely reviews :) It has also brought my extended family back together with my cousin from my dad's side ordering 3 copies of the book and pretty much renewing acquaintance again. This has been an especially nice and unexpected bonus as sometimes in life family relationships can drift. I am more determined than ever now that this is not allowed to happen again.

The bowel cancer community has without doubt been the most supportive and warmest supporters of the book. The charity has not only done whatever it can to help publicise it especially helping with contacting the local media, but also offered personal support to me during mum's battle with bowel cancer. Most importantly though it has been those people suffering and connected to cancer who have been truly amazing. In most cases they will have received a message on Twitter from me and they immediately come back with messages of support, buy the book and their kindness and unconditional friendship has been quite moving, especially considering the battles they going through. I can't thank them enough.

There are also pretty much complete strangers to me who will buy the book. This week a friend of a friend on Facebook just bought the book without thinking twice about what she was getting. This kind of support for the book has been a feature from its release back in November.

I set up a justgiving page after a couple of friends asked how they could donate. I actually felt a bit uneasy about doing it as I didn't really feel I was doing anything. However once again I have received some astonishing donations which have been especially kind and generous and boosted the fund considerably, so I thank everyone who has donated so far. Anyone wishing to donate click here.

I still have a long way to go with the book to reach the 1000 copies I set as its target, but I can't thank everyone enough who has bought the book so far. It makes the effort of publishing it and the extremely difficult task of marketing it worth while. It means I haven't ruled out edition 2 just yet :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Pros & Cons of Self Publishing a Book

Self  publishing a charity book brings with pros and cons. The most important pro is that people are actually prepared to buy the book knowing that the proceeds are being donated to a great cause. I am the first to admit that the majority of people have bought it on this basis rather than of my creative talent! :) Another pro is that if there was to be another book hopefully the uptake would be pretty similar. 

One of the down sides is that because every penny I receive is being donated to the charity, I am unable to invest any of the profits in marketing as there are no profits of course. A popular marketing tip is to send out free copies for review, but by using Amazon 's print to order scheme free copies even for me the author do not exist, and I have to buy it like everyone else. Another marketing suggestion is to do free promotional periods where the book is give away for free. Obviously in this instance this defeats the whole object of raising money for the charity. I wonder whether I have got the pricing right, and in all honesty I think trying to raise about £1 from both the paperback and kindle versions is fair.

The book was released about 3 months ago, and the sales total is currently 144, which along with the justgiving donations means about £250 has been raised so far, which I am delighted with. However sales of the book have slowed right down now and I am wondering what else I can do boost sales. There has been great local media coverage and I have worked hard at pushing it on social media sites. So I am open to suggestions and am waiting for something to happen to give it fresh impetus.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Angel Wings

Today I got the very sad news from Australia that a young girl has grown her angel wings after losing a long and courageous battle with cancer. There is nothing more tragic and devastating than the loss of such a young life, and my heart goes out to the family at this devastating time. It makes me realise just how lucky and fortunate I am to be blessed with good health and a great life. Such a sad event can put so much into perspective, and its very easy to get wrapped up in our own trivial problems forgetting that others have a lot worse to contend with. I know that my book isn't going to raise millions, make any difference to finding cancer cures or indeed change the world. I had been thinking that my target of 1000 copies might be unrealistic and maybe it still is, but such news makes me more determined than ever to push on and achieve as much as I can with this book both on raising funds and raising awareness.

Rest in peace Jasmine Moohen

Sunday, 10 February 2013


The role that reviews play in getting the book out to a wider audience is an important part of taking the book forward. In basic terms when people see an item on Amazon has a high number of good reviews they are more likely to buy it. This is both irrational but predictable behaviour...

I have been fortunate enough to been given five-star reviews so far and to date I have about a 10% take up on people having bought the book going on to post a review. If I know someone has bought the the book I always ask them if they would be kind enough to post a review. However it is more important to get a  high quantity of reviews, as a book with 500 four-star reviews will sell more copies than a book with 15 five-star reviews.

So for anyone who has kindly bought the Beating Bowel Cancer book and not managed to do a review yet, please could you post one on Amazon as every review really does help. Please take a look at the reviews posted so far by clicking here.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

On The Radio

This morning the BBC Radio Berkshire breakfast program hosted by Andrew Peach has been covering bowel cancer test kits following a local man being diagnosed with bowel cancer after using a kit. I emailed in with details of mum and of course the book, and they called me back asking for me to go on air. I was asked about using these kits, which I had used a few weeks ago and whether I had felt embarrassed about using one? Absolutely not was my response, and fortunately when I used the kit my result came up negative. I was able to briefly describe how mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer and how she is currently doing, and very importantly I did point out that the illness could affect people under 65 as well as the overs. Unfortunately I was not asked about the book, but I suppose the BBC might not be able to promote such things on air? However the program has done a great job this morning of raising awareness and hopefully I have contributed a little bit to that.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Raising Bowel Cancer Awareness

I have to be totally honest that until mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2012 I knew precious little about bowel cancer. Over the 3 years I have got to know a lot more about the disease, and it has become clear how important it is to raise the awareness of this disease. The information is readily available out there but how many people actually actively seek it or are even aware of it? The Beating Bowel Cancer charity which I am supporting has excellent information on its website just click here, and it is from their website that I have sourced my facts. 

The basic facts are that bowel cancer is the 2nd biggest cancer killer in the UK, and 41,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and it claims 16,000 lives. If diagnosed early 90% of cases can be treated successfully. Whilst it is more common to affect people over 50, it is increasingly affecting younger people.

The symptoms can include a persistent change in bowel habit, bleeding from the bottom, abdominal pain, a lump in your tummy and unexplained weight loss.

Risk factors include a high intake of saturated fats, processed or red meat. Drinking more than 4 units of alcohol per day, being overweight, and having an immediate relative with bowel cancer all could increase the chances of being affected by it.

To reduce the risk eat or healthy diet with plenty of fruit, regular exercise to reduce weight, cut down on alcohol, and be aware of any change in bowel habits. My mum recognised a change in her bowel habit and when she was sent to have an endoscopy the bowel cancer was discovered.

It was only once the book was published did I begin to realise how important raising awareness is, and it wasn't just purely about selling copies to raise money for the charity. It was pointed out to me that the articles about the book that appeared in the local papers would be good for raising awareness regardless of how many book sales they generated. So my aim now is still to sell as many copies as possible raising funds for the charity, but each time the book gets bowel cancer mentioned in the media, on social networks or even in normal conversations then hopefully it is playing its part in raising awareness.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Marketing Challenges

Marketing of the book has been the biggest challenge and far more difficult than taking the photographs. Initially I contacted the Beating Bowel Cancer charity and they have been terrific with their support and putting together a press release and contacting the local media. The result of which was articles in local newspapers, the Reading Chronicle, Reading Post and Maidenhead Advertiser.

I have pretty much exhausted friends and family and need to somehow get to the next layer to generate new sales. Any ideas would be appreciated. One tactic I have used is posting on twitter and cancer forums and the support for the book there has been terrific and it has also been very heart warming to discover just how supportive these networks of people are for each other too. Since publishing the book it has been quite a humbling experience and I realise more and more not only how awful this disease is, but just how important it is to continue to raise awareness along with funds for the charity.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Chapter 1 Portrait - A Taster from the book

To give everyone a taster of the book, and what to expect from it I am posting the first of the thirty chapters. Fittingly I started the book with a photo of my mum so if you like what you see then please support the book.

1) Portrait

Portrait photography is something I probably feel least comfortable with when it comes to taking photos, as there is an air of expectation of high quality photos if your specifically get people to pose for you. I have found that the best portrait photos I have managed to take have been when the subject is unaware of the camera, and the photograph is taken in a natural environment. 

The subject of this portrait is my mother whose fight against bowel cancer is also the inspiration for the book so it seems like a good place to start. The photo was taken in my sister's garden in Alvescot. There was no time consuming setting the scene involved or posing for the camera as mum was blissfully unaware of the picture being taken. I achieved the low angle by lying on the grass with mum sitting on a wooden bench, and although only subtle I think this angle adds to the photo. We all have numerous photos of family, but I was particularly pleased with this photo of my mother, all the more so as it was taken just a few days before she went into hospital to have major surgery to remove the cancerous tumour in her bowel. The picture therefore takes on extra significance, but also for me it is just a wonderful photo capturing a lovely happy content look in her face. As a viewer I want to know why she was looking so happy. We were at my niece's, mum's granddaughter's 6th birthday celebration and as per usual Anna was a source of amusement and entertainment no doubt contributing to the smile in no small way.

Beating Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book

In April 2012 the dreaded cancer word came into our family. One minute I was sitting with my mother expecting a normal discharge from hospital, and then in the blink of an eye our world was turned upside down when we were told that mum had bowel cancer. She had been having trouble going to the toilet and was sent to Wexham Park Hospital for an endoscopy, and it was at that point we learned she had bowel cancer. Her treatment involved radiotherapy and chemotherapy to shrink the tumour, before a successful operation to remove it was performed in the September. She made an excellent recovery, although she had an operation to remove a cancerous nodule from her left lung in January 2013, and had to undergo the same operation on her right lung in the March.  For the last 2 years she has done really well, but unfortunately in November 2014 we discovered that the cancer had returned, and underwent successful surgery in February to remove the nodule. She is making another amazing recovery.

The care and attention mum has received at Mount Vernon, Wexham Park and Harefield Hospitals has been first class, and it was while mum was undergoing treatment that I decided I wanted to do something to raise funds for a cancer charity and give something back. As the project has developed it has become obvious just important it also is to raise awareness about bowel cancer too. Unfortunately running a business on my own imposes restrictions as to what I could do, but the idea of writing a book seemed the perfect solution. I have been a keen amateur photographer for a couple of years and the idea I had was to write a book featuring photos on various subjects, ideas and technical approaches. “Beating Bowel Cancer” therefore is a charity book featuring a collection of photographs and the stories behind them to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. All proceeds will be donated to the charity.

The ebook version on Amazon is £2.65 of which the £1.39 I earn will be donated to the charity. It is for the Kindle, but there are freely available Kindle reader apps for Ipads, Iphones and computers. From outside the UK please use to buy the book.

The physical book version is available for £7.21 on Amazon with just over £1 going to the charity  and can also be bought from Create Space for $11.49. All physical copies will raise £1.01 for the charity.
There is a justgiving page for anyone wishing to make a donation to the charity. You can also donate by texting TIMD66 £1 to 70070

The plan is to try and sell 1000 copies, and as at  31st March 2015 I have sold 327 copies so I have a long way to go! Absolutely every penny I earn is going to be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. To have any chance of doing this not only am I asking people to buy a copy, but to help spread the word to as many people as you can through as many channels open to you as possible. The marketing seems to be a much bigger challenge than writing the book itself. If anyone wants to know more they can email me here.

I am currently in the process of writing a new book entitled "Lives & Times", which will feature photographs of people with anecdotal stories. Once again all proceeds will be donated to Beating Bowel Cancer, and the book will be published later this year.