Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter Reframes the Sci-Fi Literature Industry

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Brandon Sanderson’s commercial pull is beyond doubt. He is one of the best-selling (and prolific) fantasy authors today, and his are such popular sagas as ‘The Stormlight Archive’, ‘Elantris’, ‘Breath of the Gods’ or ‘Mistborn’ , in addition to continuing with three novels the saga ‘The wheel of time’ after the death of Robert Jordan. But even Sanderson himself must have been surprised by the reception that his financing project for his next novels has had by Kickstarter.

On February 1, Sanderson stood a project on the platform crowdfunding to finance the publication of four novels that you have written in the last two years. In just one day raised over $15 millionand already approaching twenty, it may end up becoming the Kickstarter project that has raised the most in the history of the platformahead of the mythical smart watch Pebble.

Brandon Sanderson guts the Cosmere, his storytelling technique, including an Excel sheet, and the moment that made him a writer

Obviously, the content of the books has not transpired, except that three of them will be set in the Cosmere universe that many of Sanderson’s works share, and the fourth will have a different theme, although it is linked to the initials. Those who have paid full price for all four books will receive one in each quarter of 2021and the author describes his writing as a return to his early days as an author, without thematic or time pressures.

To explain how it has been possible to write so much material in such a short time, Sanderson recorded a funny video in which he revealed the unsurprising secret of your creativity. With the pandemic, without the obligation to attend conventions, talks and interviews, she gave herself over to writing a new saga.

The Kickstarter Method

sanderson he is not the first author to bypass the publishing business to directly publish his books with financing from his readers and without intermediaries, but one of the first to do so with such an excessive financial response, and being such a prestigious author. But the idea is not new: in fact, the idea is in the very essence of Kickstarter, born as a platform in 2009.

However, books are not the most successful projects on Kickstarter. Without a doubt, video games are the great winners in this field. As the journalist and novelist specialized in science fiction told Kristine Kathryn Rusch on her blogpossibly due to the video game community is more used to financially supporting independent projects. To this it could be added that the eminently digital distribution of games skips one of the processes for which book or movie publishers are painfully necessary: ​​distribution.

But Sanderson’s success may send the publishing industry’s foundations shaking uncomfortably. rusch sums up why very clearly: fifteen million dollars is a lot of millions. Even though you obviously have to part with a few thousand of that proceeds to proofread, design, print and send to your funders. If you also want to hire people to promote and distribute the book, you’ll have to carve out a generous amount for salaries. And even so, it will continue to be more than what she would earn writing for an editorial, where she would get, the journalist calculates, about four million dollars after three years and collect royalties for sales.

In addition, the situation is more complex and goes beyond a mere economic issue: a publisher has a series of tentacles that encompass promotion unattainable for an individual author (interviews in large media, for example), and not all authors may be willing to give up that headache. But with twenty million dollars and experience gained after years at the service of precisely those publishers? It will be interesting to see what the next step is for Sanderson.

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The B-side of the story, of course, are the independent authors who until now had to sweat ink, and never better said, to get literary projects off the ground much more modest on Kickstarter. It is doubtful that things will change for them, because in the end we are talking about the same old story. First of all, independent authors used mailing lists to communicate with their readers, social networks as a cheap form of promotion, and the crowdfunding to self-finance projects outside publishers. Sanderson is just another case of a successful author gobbling up the findings of the most modest writers… and making publishers tremble.

Brandon Sanderson’s commercial pull is beyond doubt. He is one of the best-selling (and prolific) fantasy authors today, and his…

Brandon Sanderson’s commercial pull is beyond doubt. He is one of the best-selling (and prolific) fantasy authors today, and his…

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