Ahoy, mateys! It's that time, once again, for my yearly retrospective. We're sticking with the name "The Odyssey of JoshSE" because I haven't got anything better and changing it every year is just a little too unhinged, even by my loose standards.

Usually, these are my longest newsletters of the year — if you're new here, this is essentially my blatant State of the Sanderson ripoff, in which I give an update on what I spent the year doing, what I plan to spend the next year doing, and how much money I've m̶a̶d̶e̶ lost. This year's will be a bit shorter than last year's (thank the Lightmother) but I've still got a special announcement if you stick around until the end!

Table of Contents:

To Burn All Belief release day

First things first, today is my birthday! 🥳🎉🎈 Hooray! Happy birthday, me!

I'm turning 33 years old, and despite my body's daily aches and protests, they tell me I still can't apply for an AARP card. Gimme those sweet, sweet discounts! Now, I would never (never!) ask you for a birthday present... but juuuuust in case you're feeling generous, did you know you can pick up a brand-spanking-new book, just released TODAY? And for the low, low price of just $2.99. Seriously, with inflation that's less than a pack of gum these days!

To Burn All Belief is out now, and it's my best work so far. If you enjoyed An Ocean of Others, you're going to love this new installment in the Dance of the Sibling Suns series, which expands the world, deepens the characters, and will keep you hooked while you try to Remember What's Real™️.

I've always believed that while writing An Ocean of Others, I learned how to construct a good plot and setting. In writing Grave of the Waiting, I learned how to write compelling characters with emotional interiority. And now, in writing To Burn All Belief, I learned how to combine all that with rock solid pacing and progression throughout the story. I'm really proud of the end result.

How do you think I did? You'll have to read the book and let me know!

A madman must save the city he calls home while his friends travel abroad seeking allies and hunting his enemies. As the Bright Empire succumbs to darkness, how can they remember what's real when they can't believe their own eyes?

Since this is book two in the series, reading An Ocean of Others first is recommended. If you need a refresher, the book contains a Story So Far section, which can also be found on my website here: Sibling Suns Recap.

If you haven't read An Ocean of Others yet, the Kindle edition is free on Amazon for the rest of the week (promotion ends on Friday, June 7 at midnight PST).

Here's what some lovely people have said about it:

Pick it up on the cheap so you can get caught up in the series and start reading To Burn All Belief, not to mention you can then participate in the Greatest Tournament of the Millennium!

A Tournament of Others

The next round of this exalted tournament has come to a close! The votes are in – let's see where we stand.

In round two, Lomin hunted the stink-cart Andya into extinction with a 6-0 blowout. Sentyx proved the dark hemisphere is superior to the Bright Empire by defeating Bright Prince Vinlin. Garret proved that dex is better than strength and overcame Dunnax. And in no surprise at all, Grim overcame Jacquin (farewell, First Eye, we hardly knew ye).

"Reed em and weep" has fallen to nearly last place, proving that there is justice in this world after all. The author's prediction, however, remains in dead last, proving that there is no justice in this world after all.

With that, we move onto the quarterfinals!

Cast your votes below to help your favorite character win! (We all know who that is, don't we? The winner is essentially predetermined.)

Monthly giveaway

Last month, you shared your wildest fan theories about what will happen in To Burn All Belief. I've got to admit, they were a little less unhinged than I expected! I'm also a bit disappointed only one of you clicked on the 'Tyrion is a time-traveling fetus' theory for A Song of Ice and Fire. It's a masterpiece of insanity.

Nonetheless, the Wheel must be spun! A winner must be chosen! And that winner is...

Jared! His theory was that the entire story is secretly being told from Garret's perspective and Grim is a Benefactor giving him a Deluge. Honestly, that's a pretty good prediction and definitely the kind of POV-trickery I would try to pull. Congratulations sir, a pre-release paperback of To Burn All Belief is yours!

This month's question will be along the same lines, guessing what will happen in book two. Leave your predictions in a comment below!

Which character is going to die in To Burn All Belief, and how?

There are multiple correct answers to the first part of that question, so feel free to take a shot in the dark. The winner of the drawing will get a signed copy of To Burn All Belief and a poster to go along with it!

Writing statistics

That wraps up the normal newsletter content (don't worry, there will still be Nazgul pics at the end), so it's time to jump into The Odyssey of JoshSE proper!

I used to go all out and give pivot tables and super detailed metrics here, but like last year we're going to keep this abridged because I don't want to go insane looking at my Excel spreadsheets anymore. I'll include a timeline of everything I worked on each month, then we'll jump right into the key metrics.


  • June 2023 - August 2023: Finished the 1.0 draft of To Burn All Belief.
  • September 2023: Readthrough of To Burn All Belief, taking notes for revisions.
  • October 2023: Finished revision guide and 2.0 draft of To Burn All Belief. Delivered manuscript to my editor.
  • November 2023: Overhauled website and added several pages of content.
  • December 2023: Break month.
  • January 2024: Began planning Mathemelodian novella.
  • February 2024: Break month.
  • March 2024: Began writing epigraphs for To Burn All Belief and started 3.0 draft with edits from my editor.
  • April 2024: Finish To Burn All Belief 3.0 and 4.0 drafts and finished writing epigraphs. Finished ebook formatting.
  • May 2024: Cover reveal for To Burn All Belief, ARCs delivered, and paperback formatting finished. Final preparations for release day.

Key Metrics

Year 31 Year 32 Year 33
Total Words 132,121 209,212 76,422
Total Hours 482.65 461.50 361.30

/* Note: Total Words this year includes only those written during the drafting or editing stage for To Burn All Belief. Total Hours includes all time spent doing anything writing related, e.g. sending emails, marketing, graphics work, and of course writing.*/

You can see both my metrics are down from last year and most of my writing occurred in June-August 2023 and October 2023 – coinciding with when I finished the 1.0 and 2.0 of To Burn All Belief.

Mainly, that's because last year I spent significant time on the first drafts of two novels (To Burn All Belief and Grave of the Waiting), whereas this year I just had to finish off one. I also spent some time in those empty months of the graph working on content for the website, which isn't included in my writing stats.

Overall, I'm okay with these stats. I wrote in my last Odyssey post about mental health and depression and how I needed to slow down a bit rather than forcing myself to write without breaks. As you can see, I gave myself a few breaks this year while waiting for edits to come back, and I feel much better as a result. I'm sure some of that is a result of deleting social media from my phone as well (huge lifehack!). I've also had time to work on other side projects, which I've learned is vital for my mental wellbeing. And as a result, you're probably going to be getting a new novella out of it sooner than originally planned!

Still, this coming year will likely see even lower metrics, for reasons I'll share later. For now, let's take a look at the goals we set last year and set some new goals for the future.

Goal assessment

Goal 1: Publish Sibling Suns 2 — SUCCESS!

It took a few really tough months to pull this off, but I got it done! (Talk about cutting it close!) Never did I imagine I could write a full 2.0 draft in just one month, but that was my October. My editor was dealing with some personal health issues for a while, so at one point I had given up hope that I could publish before my birthday; however, when she sent her edits in March, I knew I had just enough time to cram the release into the beginning of June.

Thankfully, I'm terrible at estimating word counts. Last year, I thought I had another 90,000 words to write to finish a 180,000-word first draft. Instead, it clocked in at around 150,000 and reached 154,000 after edits. Phew! I know some of you like chonker books, but let me tell you, I don't like writing them so I'm glad this ended up shorter than predicted! I'm guessing at its completion Sibling Suns 3 will be the longest book I will have written, but this year I'm aiming for a shorter book. Here's the plan.

New goals

Goal 1: Publish Grave of the Waiting

Like I said last year when announcing the serial's hiatus:

When I have a free month or two in my schedule, before starting Sibling Suns 3, I will bulk revise all of the chapters at once and write the epilogue. Chapter releases will be much faster after that – either several per month or maybe even just all at once, we'll see.

That's the plan, and I'm sticking to it. I've already got new, commissioned cover art for the full release, the revision guide is finished, and I've got a release plan. This book is like 90% done already. I just need to finish the bulk edits and get it out the door. Should take a few months since I want to do another quick editing pass after the initial one, but you'll definitely be getting a new book from me this year.

Uhh, Year 33, that is. You'll probably get 2 books from me in 2024, if you go by normal people calendars. I'll make sure the book is still readable completely for free on my website – that's a promise I don't intend to break. Likely, I'll just drop the entire thing all at once on the same day as the final release on Amazon/IngramSpark.

Goal 2: Finish 1.0 draft of the Mathemelodian novella

I started working on the outline for this in January, and I've got a really good idea of how many chapters it's going to be. Eleven chapters – that seems eminently achievable to me. I'm a slow writer, but even accounting for that it should only be 2 or 3 months to finish the first draft.

This will technically be a prequel novella for Dance of the Sibling Suns, in that it takes place ~30 years before An Ocean of Others, but the cast of characters is entirely new. I originally planned to write a novella after Sibling Suns 3, but for reasons that will become clear at the end of the newsletter, that book is likely going to take a bit longer than the other two. Why not take a short detour in the meantime, especially since I'm clearly not a release-a-trilogy-in-three-years kind of writer?

That said, I'm still going to be working on the outline for Sibling Suns 3 this year. There's a lot of planning that needs to go into the finale – the main plot points are clear in my mind, but it's all about the details, details, details. I'm just not going to be setting a goal for it this year. If I said Goal 3 was to start the outline, technically I would have already succeeded. So instead, we'll save a Sibling Suns 3 goal for the Year 34 Odyssey.

Financial transparency

Oh boy! My favorite section, where I get to find out where all my money went this year! One day we'll dig ourselves out of this financial hole, but dear readers, I do not expect that day to come anytime soon.

First, how did sales look this year?

That bump you see in June/July/August 2023 – pretty sure that can be attributed to all the excitement around SPFBO9. The bump in May 2024 is probably because of the cover reveal for To Burn All Belief, so that's nice to see!

I can't find a good-looking chart from IngramSpark (even with their supposedly new and improved reports), but the data they're showing me says 4 sales over there. As you can see, most of them come from Amazon, by far. The JoshSE store was defunct most of this year and there haven't been any sales since reopening it, so the tally is nice and easy this year:

Amazon Ingram Year 33 Total Lifetime Total
Paperback Sales 16 4 20 98
Paid Kindle Downloads 129 - 129 502
Free Kindle Downloads 988 - 988 3445
Audiobook Sales 79 - 79 79

In addition to the 3400+ free copies floating around out there, we just hit the 600 paid sales mark, plus another 79 audiobooks sold by the good folks at Podium. Exciting! That's better than I expected to do with my first book, and in any case, I would keep writing even if we sold 10 copies. The journey continues!

Finally, there's also KENP – how many pages people read using Kindle Unlimited. Rather than give a year-over-year breakdown, I'll just give you the up-to-date tally:

Not too bad! Trending downward, but that's what you'd expect to see for a series that hasn't yet had a second installment. I'll be curious to see if there are any upticks this year now that To Burn All Belief is published.

With all that, this year's total revenue is: $353.55

Not a truckload by any means – not even a sedan-load – but all of it goes right back into the books in the form of me hiring an artist or editor. Thank you for all the support you've shown this year! I don't do this for the money – I do it because I love writing and sharing stories with you all – but every little bit helps.

Now, let's look at this year's expenses. Deep breaths now... we'll get through this, Josh...

In total, this year's expenses added up to $6368.38 – with about 90% of that going toward artwork and editing. Publishing books ain't cheap, y'all! At least, not the way I do it... which might be... the wrong way? Couldn't be!

On the upside, expenses this year were about $1100 less than last year while at the same time To Burn All Belief was a longer book, meaning editing costs were higher than for An Ocean of Others (editors generally charge by word count). There was also a lot spent on merch this year, which is a result of all my giveaways, revamping the JoshSE Store (please buy something), and testing new merch designs.

To summarize:

Lifetime Paid Sales KENP Read Total Year 33 Expenses Year 33 Revenue Lifetime Revenue
679 58,011 $6368.38 $353.55 $864.59

I'll have to start keeping those expenses down, which will be hard since so much of it goes toward the essentials – editing and cover art. But it'll need to be done, because there's going to be another big expense very soon.

Special announcement

If you've made it this far, here's the reason things are going to be taking longer than usual for the foreseeable future:

I'm going to be a dad! 🥹

Rachel and I are incredibly excited to welcome our first child into the world this December! We already know the gender and have a name picked out, but I'll save that for a later newsletter. As you might expect, there's so much work that needs to get done in the run-up to the baby's birthday – touring daycares, setting up a nursery, prenatal checkups, childbirth classes, budgeting, buying supplies, the list is endless!

Writing is of course super important to me, but first priority has to be making sure Rachel and the baby are taken care of. I'll try to make good progress whenever I can, but I can make no promises on when my next books will be done since I'm not going to have much control over my schedule.

"'The books will be done when they're done.' - George RR Martin" - Joshua Scott Edwards

That's why my goals this year are a bit lighter than usual. Good to be realistic about these kinds of things, and I know this is going to be a huge adjustment. One I can't wait for, honestly! It's scary and inspiring and stressful, and I already have so much love for the tiny new person joining our family. If I thought Nazgul was a big challenge, I suspect I ain't seen nothin' yet!

Speaking of that little guy, let's check in on how he's doing.

Nazgul, Morgul Pup

Still enjoying his birthday toys, as you can see. And he recently had a run in with one of the locals.

It was a good old fashioned Schnauzian stand-off. The deer was fearless though, so I think she definitely won.

Don't tell him that though. He still thinks he's the fiercest creature in all the land. (He's not.)

Well, that just about wraps up this year's installment of The Odyssey of JoshSE! Thanks for sticking with me and for all the support you've shown throughout the year. The upcoming year is going to be an interesting one, for sure. By my next birthday, we'll have a new baby and a new President, and I don't know which one is more terrifying.

Don't forget to go pick up To Burn All Belief if you want to show some love. I'll need it to get through these trying times!

I hope to see you around for my next big update in June 2025 – until then, I'll see you in July with a much smaller update.

As always, thanks for reading!
— Josh