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.