Close to self-publication

Getting ones ducks in a row….

My official publication date is tomorrow 3 February but making sure all the marketing channels are open at the same time is a nightmare.


My book was uploaded to CS some time ago. I chose to use them for Amazon distribution worldwide but I did not chose the expanded distribution option. I didnt press the approve button until I needed to (see IS) below. Once approved my book was live within hours on various Amazon websites globally.

Ingram Spark (IS)

I also uploaded without problem some time ago and use them for all distribution channels (you cannot pick and choose). CS would always take precedence as the distributor for Amazon but IS can get to other distributors and book shops. Because I read that it could take six weeks to filter through to the outlets I pressed approve early but to my dismay I found it live on Amazon the next day. It weas Ok in the UK as it was only listed for pre-order but you could actually buy a copy in the USA as doesn’t feature pre-order for books. I had to get IS to unpublish until closer to tomorrow.

Kindle Direct

I uploaded the ebook version easily to Kindle some time ago and it appeared on Amazon globally on a pre-order basis.


I uploaded to Smashwords for distribution of all other ebook formats. It appeared on the various outlets as a pre-order until tomorrow. I also used the discount coupon system to provide free or discount epub versions to friends, family and those that have helped me with the book.

By tomorrow all avenues to sale will be open for business.


Final mailshots are going out today and tomorrow.

Final pre publication social media content prepared.

Radio interview tomorrow morning.

Book signing next Saturday.

National and local magazines reviewing book in March editions out mid to end Febraury.

FINGERS CROSSED !!Seeking John Campbell FRONT COVER-page-001



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Stamford Mercury Article

Author uncovers ‘remarkable’ families of John Campbell is the headline of an article in this weeks edition of the Stamford Mercury.

The Mercury have run the article about Seeking John Campbell to promote my book signing on the 7 February in our lovely local bookshop. walkers full shop


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Final pre-publication marketing

Now into the final week of pre-publication marketing.

Today my local book shop in Stamford set up a window display to advertise my book signing on 7 February between 11am and 1pm.


This follows an article in my local newspaper last Friday also giving advance notice of the signing.

I will continue with mail shots and social media this week. Next week I will start the final Goodreads giveaway, have an interview on local radio and see the publication of a book review by the Heir Hunters Association. During the remainder of February two national and one local magazine will publish book reviews and another author is planning a review.






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Family at War

My book Seeking John Campbell contains the following dedication.

dedication 2 jpg

It is the result of the discovery that one of the John Campbells I investigated was born in Germany with the surname Philippi. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1902 and returned from Argentina to fight in the British Army in WWI.

His brother, who had remained in Gemany, fought on the opposing side and both survived the war, but not without mental and physical scars.

Twenty years later each of their sons would also fight on opposing sides, both would receive awards for valor, and both would pay the ultimate sacrifice and be killed in action within a few weeks of each other in 1944.




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Marketing a self-published book

So the book is written, formatted and the POD distibutors are lined up. But will it sell.

The answer I am told or indeed shouted at by a myriad of bloggers is that it will not…at least not without some marketing noise. As a boring ex-accountant marketing and self-publicising is not in my DNA. In fact I have until now eschewed social media as well. A few months ago I didn’t go near Facebook, Twitter or Google + …I preferred the privacy!


Then I had a book to publicise and no knowledge of social media which apparently is a must so I asked Nicky at Nicky Stephen Marketing to give me some advice and set up my social media platform. So here I am. As I move inexorably towards publication date one hopes that the LIKES and the HITS will increase.

What else is possible.

Reviews. These are necessary as quotes from reviews will help in other marketing material and if posted on Amazon or Goodreads will provide noise. The key is to find reviewers in the genre several months in advance of publication. In my case I was a bit slow off the mark but have reviews lined up with genealogy magazines and bloggers reporting on family history.

Giveaways. Before publication you can join Goodreads and have your own author profile and list your book. This enables you to provide books as giveaways. Other members sign up for a draw to win a copy of the book. I have held two competitions so far for a total of five books. I had over 580 entries for the first and over 680 for the second and out of those over 400 have marked my book as “to read”. Hopefully a percentage of these will convert into sales.

Early distibutor listing. Once signed up with Createspace for Amazon and Ingram Spark and Smashwords for Barnes & Noble and other outlets your book can appear in advance of the publication date enabling customers to pre-order. In my case this is both for the paperback and the ebook. The theory behind this is to get a head of steam on sales at publication date, which might push the book up the Amazon rankings, which in turn will generate more sales.

Discount vouchers. If you list your ebook on Smashwords you are able to generate discount vouchers for any percentage, including 100%. People who buy the ebook from the Smashwords store can apply the voucher at checkout and get a discount. These can be used for promotions or to family friends and collaborators as thank yous. Even if you provide a 100% discount it will still count as a sale for ranking purposes.

Newspapers and Radio. Local newspapers are usually willing to write about local people and this can be harnessed in advance of a book launch or a book signing. If you can think of other hooks to get their interest all the better. Local radio is the same and you will often find that there is a preferred time of day when they wish to talk about events or new books. Just ask.

Book launches and signings. A launch party can mean many things and can also cost money. The benefits are potential early sales of books and publicity to use on website or in local newspaper. However you need to be sure people will turn up! Book signings are better value for money. Local bookshops are often willing to support local authors and there is no cost involved other than the margin to the bookstore. Advance publicity in local newspapers and an effective shop window presentation will help to pull in potential customers.

Business cards. A gloss card with the image of the book cover on one side and details of the book on the other is an ideal reminder for potential customers. Try MOO.

Mail shots. Make use of your personal contact list and your business contact list on LinkedIn to kick off your marketing to people who at least know you in one cpacity or another and may be surprised and delighted that you have written a book.  Try MailChimp for professional looking mailshots.





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Excerpt from Seeking John Campbell (2)

excerpt cahp 1

…At the end of April 1825, Hugh and his family, under the patronage of Grierson, headed to Edinburgh by stagecoach. It seems that Grierson, as a goodwill gesture, paid Robson, three other ploughmen and two servant girls a half-year’s salary in advance of sailing to the Argentine. In addition, Grierson also bore the cost of travel to Edinburgh and three weeks’ accommodation for Robson’s family as they waited close to the port of Leith.4

On the other side of Scotland, in East Lothian, Thomas Bell, a twenty-seven-year-old bachelor and farm bailiff, was also tempted by the offer of a new and exciting life on the other side of the world. Thomas was the eldest son of James Bell, a ploughman from East Barns, only a few miles from the east coast of Scotland and exposed to the elements of the North Sea. He would be one of many from a concentrated area, within a triangle drawn from Haddington, North Berwick and Cockburnspath, to settle in Argentina over the next quarter of a century.

By the middle of May, most of Robertson’s recruits: farmers, ploughmen, tradesmen and their families, had arrived at the thriving Edinburgh metropolis. For most, travelling from the country and from villages with no more than a thousand inhabitants, it must have been a shock to their senses. The grey granite castle dominated the skyline of the Old Town, which had become so overcrowded that many lived alongside the rats in windowless rooms beneath the High Street. However, across a new monumental bridge to Edinburgh New Town lay a more genteel part of the city, occupied by the middle class. Whereas Glasgow had expanded rapidly, through industry, Edinburgh was home to banks, insurance companies and stockbrokers, making it the largest financial centre outside of London. The population of the city had grown by 50 per cent to 150,000 since the turn of the century, and was further increased by the transient tourists who were flocking to Scotland, encouraged by the works of Sir Walter Scott. To cope, eight mail coaches and fifty stage coaches were leaving the city every day.5 Add to this the excitement and apprehension of the trip ahead and the sadness of leaving families and friends behind and one can imagine the mental turmoil of the migrants as they waited in lodgings before being called to their ship.

At Leith, Edinburgh’s port, from where the group was to depart, things were different, but no better. Dockers and porters milled around looking for work; sailors sought their pleasure between voyages and carts clattered along the cobbled streets, ferrying goods and passengers to the dockside for onward transfer to their ships. The noise was relentless, from humans and livestock alike.

One of those ships, the Symmetry, was a three-masted square-rigger, contracted by John Parish Robertson to sail to Buenos Ayres. She was anchored a couple of miles offshore on the Leith Roads, an area in the Firth of Forth protected by the small island of Inverkeith. The waiting passengers were transported out to the ship by lightermen during the days prior to departure, and were assigned their cramped accommodation. Meanwhile, Robertson’s agents scurried around ensuring that final provisions were loaded. On Sunday, 22 May 1825, the Symmetry slipped anchor and slowly processed out of the Firth of Forth and into open sea; for the emigrants there was no turning back. However, within three days those who had spent their lives on the land were suffering another bout of seasickness, and were ‘crying out to be set ashore’.6

During the next two and a half months, life on board the Symmetry was tedious and most of the time William Grierson, in his diary of the voyage, is restricted to a dry account of the weather.7 The monotony was broken only by the occasional storm, bouts of seasickness and other ailments amongst the passengers, and the birth of children or Grierson’s piglets. It was therefore with relief that, at the end of July, land was finally sighted and the Symmetry slowly moved from the Atlantic Ocean into the mouth of the River Plate, the widest river in the world. As they passed a point adjacent to Montevideo, the colour of the river gradually changed to a muddy brown, the result of sediment moving down and out of the rivers Parana and Uruguay.

On 8 August the Symmetry dropped anchor off Buenos Ayres. The channels around this port city were difficult and, as there were no landing piers, moles (sea walls), which were only accessible at high tide, had to be used. In order to reach dry land, passengers and equipment had to be decanted from ship to large rowing boats called whalers, and from boat to shore by a carty. These were extraordinary horse-drawn carts with large-circumference wheels to keep both people and goods above water when access to a mole was not possible. It was a full three days before the arduous process was complete and all of the prospective colonists had set foot on the unpaved and muddy roads of Buenos Ayres. In trepidation, some carried loaded pistols purchased before they had left Scotland, which, at the very least, provided some psychological protection against any perceived threat from the dark-skinned locals speaking in a strange tongue.

An advance party had already visited the parcel of land on which they were to settle, but it was not that which the government had contracted to them. After signing the contract, the Robertsons had discovered that the government did not own suitable agricultural land in the vicinity of Buenos Ayres, so, prior to the arrival of the Symmetry, they had been forced to purchase a 16,600 acre plot, in an area called Monte Grande. The land was centred around the Santa Catalina estate and cost the brothers around 60,000 pesos (c. £1m), an expenditure that would return to haunt them.8

After a couple of days in Buenos Ayres, the party made the six-league (c. 36-mile) final leg of their journey using the traditional method of transport from the city to the pampas: a train of bullock carts. Six beasts pulled each cart, which were made entirely of quebracho wood, some covered with a tolda made from a thatch of small sticks covered with hide in order to protect both passengers and their chattels from the elements. The Scots were apparently unimpressed by Buenos Ayres and so, with relief, the migrants moved out of the city area into the pampas. However, this landscape was also alien to them. The land was flat as far as the eye could see, creating a big sky which, if the weather was fine, was studded with white cotton-wool clouds. Few trees existed to provide depth and colour to the vista and only the colour of the wild verbena and other shrubs broke up the acres of pampas grass swaying in the breeze.

A month, almost to the day, after stepping onto Argentine land, Hugh Robson’s wife gave birth to a son, their eighth child, and in recognition of the efforts of the Robertson brothers they named him William Parrish Robson. Hugh’s immediate family was now complete, and many years later his great-grandson, John Argentine Campbell, would become the subject of my research as a possible father for Isabel.


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Paperback proof copies

All books were printed on creme paper and the first to arrive was a Createspace proof from the USA (middle book in image). Blogs had already warned me that the creme paper was the most yellow but without any comparison I was more than satisfied with the end product.

Then came the Ingram Spark version printed by Lightning Source in the UK (the bottom book). This was thinner than Createspace and less yellow but had a disconcerting wavyness to it which can still be seen despite pressing under weight.

Finally the more expensive heavy weighted paper from a POD company in the UK (top book). This was altogether the best product and the creme paper was the lightest in colour.

three book combined

I had read that the wavyness  of the Lightning Source book was due to the heat from thermal digital printing and on closer inspection I could see an embossed sheen on the print and the images. This was not the case on the other two books which must use a different print method. The upside was that the images were much more crisp. Even though I am using Creatspace to supply Amazon UK it will be the Lightning Source version that is most likely supplied in the UK as Createspace outsource production here.

print three books

The image above shows the print and the colour of the creme paper more clearly. The book are in the same order top to bottom as the previous image.


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Print on Demand

The decision regarding Print on Demand suppliers is a minefield because of the burgeoning options available and the particular issues around Amazon’s preferred supplier, Createspace.


This task was helped by Karen Inglis’ excellent and now updated blog on the subject.

My decision was to use Createspace to distribute to Amazon globally and Ingram Spark for all other outlets including bookstores. For the ebook format I have chosen Kindle direct for Amazon and Smashwords for all other formats.

I also decided to order advance copies through Chandler Book Designs preferred POD printer in the UK. Chandler supplied the hi res pdf file and three different book covers to satisfy the different paper weights of the three POD suppliers which required varying spine sizes. Despite the doom and gloom comments on various blogs about difficulties in setting up Createspace and Ingram Spark accounts I did not have a problem and my pdf upload went smoothly.


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The blog of my month in Argentina

Most of March 2014 was spent in Argentina and between my last minute research I had time for sightseeing in Buenos Aires.

One of the most interesting places I visited was  Recoleta cemetary the final resting place of Eva Peron amongst others.


In previous posts I have given you an insight into my search for the properties of my three John Campbells.  However during my trip I posted a blog mainly for family and friends who wished to followed my movements around the country.

This you can now follow in chronological order by visiting Surviving Argentina.

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A month in Argentina (4)

John Argentine Campbell was a formidable sportsman and polo player. After being schooled at Fettes College and going up to Cambridge John returned to the Argentine and c. 1905 built the house below in the English style on land which formed part of his fathers estate.

In the garden stands an enormous english oak tree.

blog jac comb

House at Estancia El Jabali mapped HERE

John’s grandson now lives in the house and runs a large dairy herd on Estancia el Jabali. I was honoured to be invited to stay and learn more about the family.


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