Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign breaks platform’s funding record

Brandon Sanderson, from his "It's Time to Come Clean" YouTube reveal video.
Brandon Sanderson, from his "It's Time to Come Clean" YouTube reveal video. /

Earlier this week, we reported that Brandon Sanderson, the author behind the interconnected universe of fantasy novels known as the Cosmere, had launched a Kickstarter to fund the release of four new novels he’d written in secret over the past few years. Sanderson has a reputation for surprising his fans in pleasant ways, and this sudden announcement that he’d written extra books is something that was extremely in character for him. It’s a little like how back in 2014 the author wrote an extra novel in his Mistborn series without telling his fans. He’s full of surprises.

From finishing The Wheel of Time series after author Robert Jordan’s untimely death to consistently delivering new original books like clockwork, Sanderson has inspired a level of trust and confidence from his readership that is unrivaled in today’s publishing world. And now, it’s paying off in a big way.

Sanderson’s Kickstarter launched on March 1, a mere three days ago. Today it officially became the highest funded Kickstarter of all time, overtaking the Pebble Smartwatch, which previously held the record at $20.3 million. As of this writing, Sanderson’s Kickstarter has raised over $20.7 million and the number continues to grow at a dizzying rate. (It raised over $150,000 in the time it took me to write this article.) By the time the Kickstarter finishes three weeks from now, it’ll likely be much higher, setting a new benchmark for crowdfunding on the platform.

Brandon Sanderson reveals details for Secret Project #1

One of the most impressive things about the success of Sanderson’s Kickstarter is that fans don’t even know what books they’re getting yet; it’s built entirely on faith that whatever the author has written, it’s going to deliver. In addition to the books themselves, backers can also buy a monthly subscription box for all of 2023, which will include merchandise for a variety of the author’s projects. He’s outlined the theme for each month’s merch box, but as for the books themselves, he’s only revealed a handful of details.

That veil is lifting a bit though. Sanderson teased the first of these “Secret Project” novels, which is due out in January 2023, on his YouTube channel on Thursday. The author read through the first five chapters of the book as well as revealed its title: Tress of the Emerald Sea.

Sanderson also confirmed in his latest newsletter that Tress of the Emerald Sea is a story that is being told in-world by Hoid, the storyteller character who has appeared in every one of Sanderson’s interconnected Cosmere novels. If you’ve read the latest Stormlight Archive book Rhythm of War, then think of it kind of like a novel-length work in the vein of that book’s “The Dog and the Dragon” chapter. Sanderson cites The Princess Bride as an inspiration for Tress, and the first few chapters definitely do have that fairy tale tone.

The author also stresses that the events of Tress of the Emerald Sea happen in the Cosmere. The story is simply being told with a bit of Hoid’s typical storytelling flair. Tress of the Emerald Sea is “[a] tale of pirates, dangerous spores, and (because Hoid is involved) occasional self-important monologues,” the author wrote in his newsletter. What we’ve been able to read of the book sounds pretty fun so far.

Sanderson will be revealing details about each of the remaining Secret Project books every Thursday this month on his YouTube channel.

Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter runs through the end of March, so if you want to get in on these secret books there’s still plenty of time. It’s a historic moment, and awesome to see fantasy novels once again crushing the mainstream news cycle. From all of us here at WiC, congratulations to Sanderson and his team at Dragonsteel Books on this huge milestone!

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