How This Fantasy Author Just Broke Every Kickstarter Record

Brandon Sanderson's "Surprise! Four Secret Novels" crowdfunding campaign raised a record-shattering $41.7 million

Portrait of American fantasy author Brandon Sanderson taken on June 3, 2011.
Portrait of American fantasy author Brandon Sanderson taken on June 3, 2011.
Will Ireland/SFX Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Brandon Sanderson wanted to raise $1 million to self-publish four fantasy books he wrote during the pandemic. Instead, he raised nearly 42 times that amount in one month.

As reported by CNBC, Sanderson is already a fairly well-known name in the sci-fi/fantasy world, having published more than 50 books since 2005. And he previously used the crowdfunding platform in 2020 to raise an eye-popping $6.7 million for a leather-bound, 10th-anniversary edition of his book The Way of Kings.

A mock-up for Brandon Sanderson's latest Kickstarter-funded book project
A mock-up for Brandon Sanderson’s latest Kickstarter-funded book project

Sanderson certainly helped his new cause by making the upcoming four-pack of ebooks accessible for new readers. These are “standalone novels that require very little previous knowledge of anything I’ve written before,” as he notes on his campaign page, and providing a general framework for his novels: They all take place in a universe called the Cosmere, which the author compares to the Marvel Cinematic Universe except every story takes place on a different fantasy planet with its own ecology and magic.

Kickstarter’s Margot Atwell also outlined a few other reasons for the success of the new campaign, which includes different products and rewards based on the pledge amounts, which range from $40-$500 (ordering options include hardcover, ebook and/or audio editions, with swag boxes themed after some of the universes his works are set in). She cites a good campaign, trust earned via previous crowdfunding efforts, credibility in the fantasy world (Sanderson is continuing the Wheel of Time series after author Robert Jordan passed away), a passionate fan community and an overall campaign effort that contains “elements of fun, excitement, and community engagement built-in.”

The previous crowdfunding record on Kickstarter was $20 million for the Pebble smartwatch back in 2016, followed by $13 million for the Coolest Cooler, which had issues.

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