Brandon Sanderson announces new Secret Project novel set in a "future era" of the Cosmere

Of course, Brandon Sanderson wrote another novel in secret. The guy can't help himself!
It's Finally Here | #SaytheWords
It's Finally Here | #SaytheWords / Brandon Sanderson

Remember a few years ago, when fantasy author Brandon Sanderson made a surprise announcement that he had written five novels in secret and launched a record-shattering Kickstarter campaign to gather enough funding for his company, Dragonsteel, to publish four of them? Well, Sanderson has done it again: a new Secret Project is on the way. When Brandon Sanderson isn't writing books people have contracted him to write, he's writing books for fun in his downtime. It's a glorious time to be a fan of his work.

Sanderson announced the good news during the launch video for his new Words of Radiance leatherbound crowdfuning campaign, which went live on Backerkit yesterday and has already amassed over $14 million from more than 45,000 backers. That's against a goal of only $2 million. Clearly, the demand is there for Sanderson's premium leatherbounds. Throw in a secret novel connected to the Cosmere, and it's no surprise this crowdfunding campaign is doing so well.

Brandon Sanderson is the prolific fantasy author behind series such as Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, The Reckoners, Skyward, and dozens of other books. When The Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan passed away in 2007, Sanderson was chosen to finish the series (and managed to release one of his own novels, The Way of Kings, in the midst of it all). Fans of Sanderson know and love him for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that he's a veritable writing machine who churns out novels with dizzying speed.

Often, that makes for fun surprises for fans, such as the original Secret Project Kickstarter. For that one Sanderson created a video to punk fans where he made it sound like he had some big bad secret, only to drop a bunch of manuscripts on his desk and announce the secret books. This time around, the camera lingers on Sanderson with dramatic music after he finishes talking about the Words of Radiance leatherbound. Then he slams a manuscript on the desk and walks offscreen. The captions then point out a few exciting details about this new Secret Project novel:

  • It's a part of the Cosmere, Sanderson's interconnected universe of fantasy worlds where stories like Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive take place.
  • It takes place in a "future era" of that universe.
  • It will have "high Cosmere connectivity," meaning you can expect a lot of Easter eggs and references to Sanderson's other Cosmere works.

Obviously, that's pretty exciting. Though many of Sanderson's adult fantasy books are set in the Cosmere, they don't often have "high Cosmere connectivity," since many of them are intended to be accessible to readers whether they're read all the different Cosmere series or not. A new Secret Project that highlights those crossovers is something I know a lot of fans would lose their mind over, so it's great that Sanderson is serving that desire.

Following the announcement, the author took to social media to talk a little bit more about the project. "Yes, I did it again. What do you expect from me, right? You expect me to not accidentally write books when no one is paying attention?" he asks. "I don't know what you want from me, it's just the way things happen. So...I'm not sorry."

This is all pretty fun and tongue-in-cheek, but we do get just a hint of how this Secret Project came about in the video. Sandeson mentions that he took a vacation where he ended up on the beach, which led to him getting inspired and another book materializing. For those who don't follow this author's career with obsessive zeal, Sanderson has made it a regular habit to vacation in Hawaii with his family, where he often ends up buckling down and doing a bunch of writing on the beach. During the last Hawaii trip he was mainly working on Wind and Truth, the fifth Stormlight Archive book. But it sounds like this new Secret Project got its start there, too.

The title for this new book will be revealed on March 21, 2024, along with a reading of the first chapter. And if you'd like to get in early, you can preorder it from the Words of Radiance leatherbound Backerkit campaign, which has an option to reserve the Secret Project.

Brandon Sanderson helps bring positive change to Audible for independent authors

That's a lot of Sanderson news to digest, but there's another big piece of information we need to go over. Back when the first Secret Project campaign launched on Kickstarter, Sanderson decided not to release the audio versions of those books on Audible, Amazon's audiobook platform. Audible accounted for 63.5% of all audiobook sales in the U.S. in 2022, yet its royalty rates for authors are extremely low — between 25% and 40%. For a digital product that requires no warehousing or physical distribution, that's shocking. Consider that for music, platforms like Apple Music or Amazon pay around 70%-88% royalties on sales.

Sanderson gets into all of those details and more in a new blog post, where he reveals that Audible actually came to meet with him to discuss their new payout system, which is being designed to give authors a fairer shake than they were getting before.

"This new structure doesn’t give everything I’ve wanted, and there is still work to do, but it is encouraging," Sanderson explained. He was never making this stand against Audible for his own self-interest, but rather "to shine as powerful a light as I knew how on a system that highly favored the audio distributors over the authors." So these new terms aren't just for Sanderson, but for other authors publishing independently through Audible as well. The details haven't been publicly released yet, since some final things are still being hammered out, but Audible gave Sanderson the okay to announce it and let people know that a change is on the way.

If your'e interested in the specifics, I'd highly recommend giving his blog post a read for the data and full story.

The Words of Radiance leatherbound crowdfunding campaign is currently running on Backerkit. We'll be watching closely for more details about the new Secret Project novel later this month.

Next. March 2024 book round-up. 17 fantasy and science fiction books to read in March 2024. dark

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