Building Castles and Books

by Trent Dee Stephens, PhD
(Pocatello, Idaho, USA)

The Castle Builder's Handbook

The Castle Builder's Handbook

I self publish as Castle Books publishing, courtesy of my high-speed printer in my basement!

I have been a university professor (of anatomy) for nearly thirty years. My hobby and interest for over fifty years has been medieval history and castles.

I have made many trips to Europe to visit castles. I have also attended a children's writers' workshop in Winchester. How do I pay for the trips? I have published several very successful textbooks. I love to design model and toy castles; in fact, I love toys so much that I just bought a 63,000 square foot toy and party store called Party Palace.

In addition to my textbooks, which are published by McGraw-Hill, and for which I earn very good royalties, I have published several books on the history of science (Dark Remedy: the History of Thalidomide, Perseus) and on science and religion (Evolution and Mormonism, Signature; Who Are the Children of Lehi?, Kofford).

The royalties from those books are a different story. Just having a book published by a "real" publisher doesn't mean you spend every day running to the bank with a royalty check in hand, or even twice a year. I hardly make enough every six months from those books to pay for the gas to take the royalty check to the bank.

The castle books

That brings me to self publishing. First, every thing that is said on these pages about self-publishing is correct - it is by no means an easy way to do books. However, my first self-published book, "The Castle Builder's Handbook," which is also available on CD and online, makes as much for me per book as the ones I have done with publishers make in six months. That's one of the issues: income per book.

However, I have a friend who self publishes, and all her money goes to the printer.

I bought my own $500 high volume, high speed printer and set it up in my basement, along with a $200 spiral binder. When someone orders a castle book, I go down to my printing office and run one off.

I give people the financial incentive to buy the electronic book online, so I don't even have to turn on my printer. All I have to do is electronically transfer the funds from Pay Pal to my bank account. I don't even have to spend the gas to drive to the bank!

I am about to retire from teaching and am now starting on a new adventure: I am self-publishing the first of a fourteen book series (Castle Books Publishing trough Xlibris) about a thirteenth century squire by the name of William de Braose - a real boy in the middle of a huge political storm in the English court. The book series is sort of a thirteenth century Tom Sawyer, as young William is always in trouble - because he has ADD and pays no attention to instructions (it might as well be autobiographical).

The key to this endeavor is I'm retiring from teaching. I am going into this project with my eyes wide open. I am well aware that I have to do all my own publicity - incidentally, that's a problem I had with some of my books published by publishers - but that's another story.

The bottom line - I've put years into gathering the background for my books, and there is a lot of hard work and expense ahead. Publishing book one, "The Last Tournament," is only the beginning of the hard work.

Check out Trent's castle books.

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Sep 30, 2008
self publishing done right
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Trent, I have a hunch your model castles are solid. Your online marketing plan sure seems to be.

You have

- a url that says exactly what your book offers

- a site that offers more than just your book; it offers free model castle-building information

- a narrow and specific focus

And Google seems to be rewarding you for doing things right: not only do you come up #1 for build model castles, but you come up for #1 for simply model castles.

I'm betting you get more traffic than the average self publisher with a site, and - after viewing your site - I would say your visitors get more from your site than from the average self publisher's.

Note to everyone: Trent's site delivers what a website is supposed to - good, FREE information on an oft-searched subject. And I'm willing to bet that when Trent self publishes his series on William de Braose...

...he won't load all that information onto his existing site. He'll build another site that speaks to the DIFFERENT audience he'll be trying to reach.

Trent, thanks for sharing your common sense approach.

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