Latest book review

Review by US blogger T K Sand

I’m the kind of person who can spend whole days sitting at the computer doing research (more or less!) of a genealogical or family history nature. And although my interest began more than a quarter of a century ago, I’ve never run out of things to look up. I’m pretty sure I never will. But sometimes I just feel the need to step away from the computer and stretch out on the couch for awhile, so I’m always on the lookout for some good reading material with a genealogical theme. The recently-released Seeking John Campbell: Finding pioneers and patriots in the pampas by John Daffurn was a great choice in that vein.

John Daffurn began researching his family history many years ago and discovered, as many of us do, that the really interesting stuff is somewhere beyond the names and dates that fill the blanks on your ancestor chart. And when you get to that point, you may find the research process so enjoyable and so stimulating that it ceases to be all about you and your chart. You realize that you’ve learned some skills that are fun to use, and one day–reader, has this happened to you?–you begin to research someone who’s not even related to you.

Daffurn did this when he found Britain’s Bona Vacantia list, a list of deceased persons whose estates had gone unclaimed. Knowing he’d acquired some useful research skills, he decided to try his hand at heir-hunting. He rather randomly selected a name from the list–that of a woman who had died more than a decade before–and set out to discover her family connections and perhaps locate someone who was entitled to inherit her estate.

An illegitimate child, Maria Isabel Pemberton Greig was, Daffurn learned, the daughter of one John Campbell. One, if you think about it, among many! But eventually, Daffurn was able to narrow the field down to three John Campbells. From that point, he researched all three of them in great detail and, reader, from there springs Seeking John Campbell, a fascinating nonfiction page-turner.

I did not expect to learn so much about world history, I did not expect to bump into names I would recognize, and I did not expect to find a John Campbell injured in battle on the west coast of Italy in World War II, where he might have ended up in a hospital bed next to my dad. The world, I learned from this book, is much smaller than I had ever imagined.

I’m sure John Daffurn could not have foreseen the rich and colorful story that would come to him in this project. Maria Isabel Pemberton Greig was just a name on a list–a name with a date of death. There was so much more to be found! Seeking John Campbell is a spectacular example of what might lie beyond the names and dates, and Daffurn’s story is an inspiration for researchers.

I really enjoyed this book! Can you tell?


And in case you are wondering, no, I am not being paid to write this review, nor to write any other review appearing at Before My Time.

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Book Signing at Walkers, Stamford

Walkers in Stamford hosted a book signing yesterday.

signing 1

signing 2

The gentleman above was a Campbell and was drawn to the cover of my book Seeking John Campbell.

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Ready for book signing tomorrow

rutland_radio_tWalkers bookshop in Stamford doing a great job with shelf display of Seeking John Campbell prior to book signing tomorrow 11am to 1pm

walkers signing

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Book trailer

Take a look at this short video to promote Seeking John Campbell and if inclined please share or like.


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Published Today !!!

Five years after starting some innocuous research, three years after I started writing and one year after starting to edit and work towards self-publication my book is out for all to see.Seeking John Campbell FRONT COVER-page-001

Seeking John Campbell:

Finding pioneers and patriots in the pampas

Amateur genealogist John Daffurn discovers the remarkable family histories of three John Campbells, one of whom could be the father of the illegitimate Isabel whose name was randomly plucked from a UK government list of unclaimed estates. If Isabel’s father can be identified will living heirs, who could claim her estate, emerge?

More information can be found on this website and my social media links (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter). Please Like me or Follow me to spread the word amongst your own friends and colleagues.

And if you like what you see you can buy the book at :

           OR Kindle

                    Amazon.compaperback OR Kindle

                    Barnes & Noblepaperback OR NOOK

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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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