Fantasy author smashes cash-raising record on Kickstarter with $41.7 million to self-publish four ‘secret’ novels

Best-selling science fiction/fantasy author Brandon Sanderson has become the biggest-ever fund-raiser on crowdfunding site Kickstarter with an incredible $25 million raised so far and the project still bringing in millions of dollars with over three weeks still to run $41.7 million raised during the 30-day campaign.

Sanderson is a well-established science fiction and fantasy author with a big fan base but the massive success of his Kickstarter project has taken many by surprise.

The fundraiser, which is through the author’s company Dragonsteel Entertainment, had set an original target of $1 million. The project is basically for various editions of four separate standalone novels that will be self-published by Sanderson during 2023, plus swag boxes.

The books were originally untitled but the first book’s title has now been revealed to be Tress of the Emerald Sea and Sanderson has also published the first five chapters on his website.

The author has several series of novels published traditionally but he says the new standalone novels ‘require very little previous knowledge of anything I’ve written before. If you’re interested in backing the Kickstarter, you can do so knowing that you’re not going to be launching into a big series — instead, you’re going to get a sampling of the many different types of things I like to do’.

Three of the Kickstarter books will, however, be set in the Cosmere, which is a universe where many of Sanderson’s books take place.

In his Kickstarter fund-raiser, he says, ‘Think of the Cosmere like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, except every story (instead of starring a different superhero) is taking place on a different fantasy planet with its own ecology and magic. People can travel between planets via various methods. Many characters, then, make brief appearances in one another’s stories — though the one that is most relevant to these stories is a mysterious storyteller named Hoid (sometimes called Wit).’

Sanderson’s Kickstarter total went through the $20 million mark with 82,000 backers on Friday, March 4 and became Kickstarter’s biggest-ever fund-raiser but by Monday, March 7, that total had gone up to more than $25 million from over 106,000 backers and the project still had 24 days more to run. By the end of the campaign on March 30, the project had raised more than $41.75 million with an amazing total of 185,341 backers.

It’s interesting to look at just what those backers are putting their money down for in the separate levels of pledges.

  • There are over 25,000 44,000 paying $40 or more at the basic level of a new ebook available to download in January, April, July and October 2023. So that’s 25,000 44,000 people shelling out $10 per ebook for pre-orders that are a year or more away.
  • Then there are 22,000 40,000 backers pledging $60 for the quarterly ebooks plus quarterly audiobooks of the same titles
  • Pledges of $160 have been made by 27,000 49,491 people for the ebooks, plus a premium (unsigned) quarterly hardcover book ($7.91 million total).
  • For $220, 6,500 11,463 backers get the audiobooks thrown in along with the ebooks and hardcovers.
  • The swag boxes kick in at the $360 level with 1,524 2,370 backers getting quarterly ebooks plus eight swag boxes delivered throughout the year.
  • There are a couple more swag box options, culminating in the highest level of $500 where an amazing 15,000 23,103 backers will get everything on offer — that’s quarterly ebooks, quarterly audiobooks, quarterly hardcovers (still unsigned) and eight swag boxes. That level alone is already pledging a total of $7.5 million nearly $11.55 million.

The success of Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign follows a previous Dragonsteel campaign in 2020 which raised nearly $7 million for a 10th anniversary edition of The Way of Kings.