• Stephen Burckhardt

Where Do I Go From Here . . .


As you know, if you read my blogs, I have been doing some soul searching about what to do about the direction my writing career is (or rather is not) going. Things have not progressed as I had hoped.

I began this endeavor in 2015. I have three books published under my own pen name and four books in which I was a contributing author (for which I earn nothing, I did for exposure) for a western short story collection series. I did not expect to be making a living from my writing with just so few books in print but I did expect to have more of a following at this point.

The people in my posse are amazing! I have gained a few great fans, mostly made up of close friends and family. These people go out of their way constantly to support me no matter what. I will never be able to repay them for their support.

Unfortunately, I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to go beyond this inner circle. I naively thought they'd share a few posts and one or two of their friends would check out my books. Then those people would share about my books with their friends and one or two of their friends would check out my books and so on. I figured after four years of this I would at least have about a 1,000 people following my work. In fact, I have less than 100 on my mailing list and even some of those do not open my emails.

I had been toying with the idea of leaving this serial and trying to write something in another genre (one that has a larger market) to try to boost awareness of my work. P.R. (for those who don't already know, I just use the initials when talking about my spouse.) and I have been discussing options for where I can go with my writing career. Today, we agreed on a course of action.

I started out writing this western serial as a way to write a story I cared about and learn the business side of self-publishing in a genre with a smaller audience. If I completely crashed and burned out of the gate few people would be likely to be aware of it.

I also chose to write a western because I had the story for the orphan train in my head for years, ever since a friend told me about their grandmother coming to Kansas that way. I also knew the western genre had a loyal, educated fan base who could give me solid, constructive criticism while I learn this craft. P.R. and I both agree that I still have a lot to learn.

I haven't even begun to produce an audiobook yet. I had learned how to set up everything and had begun to produce the first book for the Createspace format but before I finished the sold out to Amazon and closed Createspace. I have been reviewing how to set things up in the new format Amazon has moved to but I have yet to make any test recordings. So basically I'm starting over at square one.

I, obviously, have not learned how to build my following yet. One look at my mailing list proves that. I am still learning SEO, how to use my new graphics program, and more. Seeing as how my goal with this serial was to write it to learn how to be a successful, self-published author, I'm going to go on with this serial until the original planned ending with part five.

I'm going to give it one more year from now, where I do not worry about whether or not there is a profit from these books. Which is good because currently I'm so far in the red I can't even see the black from here. But I knew it would be that way for a while. I'm going to go back to focusing on learning to be a better writer, learning best ways to promote my work, building my mailing list, learning SEO better, working on creating a more dynamic website, and more.

So the plan for now is:

1. Get the paperback book for Into the West: Sharon Springs up for sale.

2. Finish the first chapter of Into the West: Most Wanted and post it on the hidden page on the website for those who followed the clues in Into the West: Sharon Springs.

3. Produce the first audiobook for Into the West: Orphan Train.

4. Finish writing Into the West: Most Wanted.

5. Remember to be grateful and not get so discouraged.

I do have so much for which I can be grateful. While my following may still be a small group, it is a wonderful, supportive clan. The few reviews I have received have been fantastic. I think it was good that I took a few weeks to step back and take a good look at what I need to do and where I need to go to keep moving toward my goals. Now, it's time to put my head down and charge full steam ahead.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement I have been getting. You all are the reason I keep at this serial. I want to finish it for you, the best support group a person could ask for, my posse!

With deepest gratitude,

Stephen

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