The Saint, but also bad news / by Joshua Guess

I want to let everyone know the score, which is why I'm writing this blog post both as a way to make you aware my newest book is available and where things stand. 

The Saint is a thriller I've had in my head for years. It's a simple story, in many ways. I wanted to explore the mind and experiences of a man who has been changed by the worst experiences in his life. It's action-packed but also--I hope--approaches the ideas surrounding psychological damage and trauma in ways that create a vibrant, living main character. 

It's about a criminal named Carter Ash. A killer, but one with enough of a conscience that he draws lines that just can't be crossed. When formulating this book, I had to step back and ask myself where Carter would stand on some things. I like to think I did a pretty good job showing him as a real person rather than a caricature of the sort of people we think criminals are. 

More than anything, I wanted to tell a story where the good guy is a bad guy. 

And here's the hard truth that comes alongside this book: it may be my last. 

Yeah, that's dramatic. But the hard truth is that I have seen an enormous drop in sales over time. Before I explain this to you, please understand that I'm not casting blame. That isn't what this is. I'm simply putting the reasons out there so everyone will understand. 

The thing about putting books out is that the market is huge and stuffed with new releases. When I post a link on Facebook asking people to buy the book, readers who've been picking up my stuff for years, I'm not doing it to be greedy. Right now, my income is so low I'll have to pick up extra work just to pay my bills. I'm broke. 

I don't ask people to pick up my books on a given day for fun. Over the weekend, when The Saint was released, I asked people to buy it to push it up the charts. Of the 1,900 people on my author page on Facebook, something like 50 or 60 people responded in some way. In three days, the book has sold exacly 37 copies. 37 out of nearly 2,000 people. 

Many of you read on Kindle Unlimited, which is great. I have no problem with that. A lot of folks can't always afford to snag a book when it comes out, even the $2.99 this one costs. I understand; I'm broke right now, and have been before. I'm not holding that against anyone. 

And if few people want to buy and read my books, well, no one owes me a career. I want to write. I desperately love this job. But this is the fifth book I've released in the last 12 months, and I've gone from making a good living to literally nonstop, terrible stress because every book I release makes less and less money. 

Maybe you're no longer interested, and that's okay. You certainly don't owe me anything, and my job is to keep you entertained enough to want to pick up my books. 

But I can only write so fast. The last several books have seen dramatically diminishing returns. Apocalyptica got me just enough income to pay the bills while I wrote The Saint. So far the latter is making almost nothing, while the rest of my back list makes less and less money no matter how many promotions I do or giveaways I throw. 

Which means that in the very near future I'm going to have to do something to make money. I don't know what that will be for sure. I have a coloring book made up of geometric designs I'm planning to put out, but who knows if that will make even a dollar? There are some work from home options, which may help shore up my income. 

The hard math of it is that I've written five full novels in a year, which is a lot of work. I can't keep up that level of intensity with no return, no matter how much I love it. The simple, brutal fact is that I'm not making a living right now. Full stop. 

If every single person on my Facebook page--that 1,900 number I mentioned--put in a dollar a month into my Patreon each month, that would cost you $12 a year, or the cost of three of my books. At that level, I could at least afford to pay the bills. I would give away all my books to everyone backing me on Patreon, then put them up for sale on Amazon to make whatever I could from sales. 

Right now, I have $67 in Patreon backing, and I'm incredibly grateful for every single penny. 

I'm not angry. I'm not casting blame. Please, please don't read this post that way. I'm telling you how things stand. I want to keep writing, keep working, but it's getting down to the wire. Unless I see a drastic increase in sales, it's not looking good. 

The reason I ask so emphatically for people to buy my books upon their release is that a big surge of sales propels them up the charts and puts them in front of new eyes. Without that, no book I write has much of a chance. 

Short of doing a GoFundMe and just asking you for money outright, I'm out of ideas. My hope is that this post reaches people who are willing and able to help, whether it's through buying my books or supporting me on Patreon, or even donating on this website's donate button. 

I'm going to keep writing for as long as I can. Make no mistake about that. If I start doing other work from home or pick up a job outside it, I'll still write when I can. But having to split my focus is going to slow me down. Before I went full-time, I was getting four hours of sleep a day while working full-time at my day job just so I could write my books. Since my back surgery, I don't know how capable of that I'm going to be. 

That's where things stand. I'm open to ideas if you have them. If I could find anyone interested in buying the TV or film rights to my books, I'd sell them cheap. Just enough to keep me going for a while longer. But I'm an independent author; I don't have an agent or even contacts. 

Hopefully things will turn around, but at this point I don't know what else I can do to make that happen. 

No matter how it plays out, I want to thank all of you for giving me this time. I've dreamed of being a novelist since I was a teenager, and for the last three and a half years, you've made that dream come true. No matter how long I practice and hone my craft, I'll never be able to put in words how grateful I am to each and every one of you for giving me that chance.