Fantasy Author Brandon Sanderson Breaks Kickstarter Campaign Record With $41.7 Million

© Brandon SandersonWhat Will the Secret Books Look Like? + Our First Thank You Upgrade for Kickstarter Backers
What Will the Secret Books Look Like? + Our First Thank You Upgrade for Kickstarter Backers - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.04.2022
The Utah-based fantasy writer initially announced to fans on March 1 that he would be releasing several secret novels, underscoring that the surprise and added gifts would depend on the dollar amount his kickstarter campaign would be able to collect.
American fantasy author Brandon Sanderson just broke Kickstarter’s record by receiving $41.7 million from over 181,000 backers, making it the highest-grossing campaign in the site’s history. With a pledge of $40 or more, the kickstarter offers fans four secret novels.
Sanderson, who writes epic fantasy and young adult science fiction/fantasy, announced on March 1 to fans that four secret novels would be available in different formats, either in Ebook form or hardcopy, as well as “swag bags,” depending on how much fans “pledged” on the site.
The Utah author’s fanbase jumped on the offer, and by March 25 he had $33 million pledged, far outstripping his initial $1 million goal. In just three days it topped the $20.3 million record set by smartwatch company Pebble Technology.
On Thursday, the Kickstarter campaign closed with a record-breaking $41.7 million with 185,339 backers.
“I’m a bit of a showman. I love keeping secrets. I love having twists in my books. I love reveals,” Sanderson told the Deseret News. “Knowing that is part of what drove me to write them, knowing that I would eventually be able to reveal it to them.”
Sanderson, who has published over 50 books since 2005, said his secret novels started out as a surprise gift for his wife, Emily, during the pandemic in 2020. Sanderson found the experience of writing without the pressures of deadlines, publishers, nor fan expectations rejuvenating.
“That’s when the whole Kickstarter thing started to build in my brain,” he said. “And then I did that three more times. I wrote three more secret books for her… We are both book lovers. It was a lot of fun. I love my wife and so being able to share the surprise with her was a little extra special,” said Sanderson.
The 46 year-old creative writing professor, who teaches at the Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University, ended his quarantine experience with four new novels. The books will be released to those who pledged to his campaign in the 2023 months of January, April, July and October.
This is the second time Sanderson has used Kickstarter to publish a special edition of his work. In 2020, he received $6.7 million in funding from 30,000 supporters who in exchange received a leather-bound 10th anniversary edition of his novel “The Way of Kings”.
Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform first founded in 2009, will make a pretty penny as well. Their 5% fee will fetch them over $2 million from Sanderson’s campaign. About a half of the money raised will cover printing and shipping costs for his books, as well as the estimated 30 employees who will need to be fairly compensated.
Sanderson also hopes to build a large independent bookstore in the future.
“I love community bookstores,” Sanderson said. “This is probably a bad time business-wise to be opening a physical bookstore, everything’s going digital. But I need a place to have a fulfillment center where my people are shipping out my books. The bookstore doesn’t have to make money, that’s the nice thing. We can just make it as a thing for the community where you can sell books, break even and I’ll be happy.”
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