Brandon Sanderson fans crowdfund £17m for his new novels

Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson revolutionises publishing industry with huge Kickstarter campaign.

Emma Leask
22nd March 2022
Image credit: @brandonsanderson on Instagram

Over the course of three days, Brandon Sanderson fans broke the record for Kickstarter's highest earnings for his four new lockdown-written novels. Although the author has an impressive backlist with traditional publisher Gollancz, he decided to self-publish these upcoming works, using crowdfunding.

As a huge name in fantasy, it was inevitable that his dedicated fans would rally behind him and donate if it meant that they could get their hands on more Sanderson novels. This isn’t the first time the author has published his books this way. Last September, tenth anniversary editions of his series The Way of Kings were published following a crowdfunding campaign, raising $6.7m in total. The books were too large to be published via the traditional routes, but Sanderson wanted his fans to be able to purchase special editions. This, and his second crowdfunding campaign, goes to show the influence that readers can have in an author’s career.

Sanderson revealed the news to his fans with a video posted on his YouTube channel.

This is one of many crowd-funded literary projects. There’re multiple crowdfunding publishers available to access online, the first worldwide being Unbound. It can be a fantastic way for a debut author to share their works for the first time, when it’s otherwise incredibly difficult to have them commissioned by traditional publishers. Amy Lord won the Northern Writers’ Award in 2015 for her novel The Disappeared, her debut which she crowdfunded through Unbound. There was even a 400th Anniversary edition of Don Quixote published by indie American publisher Restless Books, which met its goal of $20,000.

It not only creates a community of readers who have specifically chosen to support that book, but it also brings the author closer to the readers than they may have ever been had they chosen to publish through a publishing house.

A major advantage of publishing books this way is that it allows the reader to be connected to the project, a feature lacking in traditional publishing where the process is almost mysteriously hidden. It not only creates a community of readers who have specifically chosen to support that book, but it also brings the author closer to the readers than they may have ever been had they chosen to publish through a publishing house. It is the readers who are effectively allowing that book to enter the market, which gives them an impressive amount of power in the whole process. The success of publishing this way obviously depends on the number of people supporting the author, something which is of no concern to the likes of Brandon Sanderson. But when it is successful, the power of readership is truly something to behold.   

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