Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish

Brandon Sanderson wanted to use Kickstarter to fund four new books, so he set a goal of raising $1 million in 30 days. He finished the race in under 35 minutes.

The prominent science fiction and fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson has launched a crowdfunding effort this week to self-publish four of his novels he authored during the pandemic. His objective is to collect $1,000,000 in 30 days.

In about 35 minutes, he had surpassed the $1,000,000 mark. The stock ticker kept going up.

He amassed $15.4 million in 24 hours, making it the most successful day ever for a Kickstarter campaign, according to the crowdfunding platform. As of Thursday, two days into it, he had already collected over $19 million.

Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish

The staggering figure makes one wonder what other avenues of publication are available to famous authors with large audiences, and why so many of them continue to use the tried-and-true methods of the publishing industry.

Experts and Sanderson himself agree that this form of self-publishing poses no threat to the publishing system and is a good option for the vast majority of authors. Rather, the two ways can coexist and assist extend readers’ possibilities with the proper author.

According to Kristen McLean, executive director of business development at NPD Books, which monitors book sales, “publishers require authors to be businesspeople these days.” This will increase his visibility and boost sales of his whole back catalogue.

Sanderson’s special connection to his readers, according to McLean, is a big reason why this venture has been so successful for him.

Sanderson claims that his epic fantasy novel “Rhythm of War,” about a coalition of people opposing an enemy invasion, has sold 20 million copies across print, audio, and electronic formats.

He, like many other SF/F authors, has put in considerable time at conventions, where he can meet and talk with readers. He claimed to have spent 111 days on the road this year.

Sanderson’s plan for massive self-publishing, however, is extremely daunting. Most writers, at heart, would rather be writers than publishers.

To publish a book, one must hire a host of professionals. Someone has to go through the process of registering the ISBN and claiming copyright. The manuscript has to be proofread twice by someone else. It is difficult and costly to print thousands of copies of a book, then to store and distribute them.

Sanderson has established a company, Dragonsteel Entertainment, with 30 employees, including a marketing director, concept artist, continuity editor, and human resources director. A short drive from his home takes him to Pleasant Grove, Utah, where he keeps a warehouse.

Sanderson claims he began self-publishing e-books in the early 2010s, and that a Kickstarter attempt to raise money for a leather-bound edition of one of his works in 2020 acted as a dry run for this more ambitious initiative.

Sanderson, speaking from his office in American Fork, Utah, explained, “I am an artist who was raised by an accountant and a businessman.” “Since there is so much management involved, this is not a good idea for many writers.”

Sanderson made it clear that he was sticking with the publishing industry standard because he cares about his books staying in stock at retail outlets. His books are forthcoming from both Tor (a division of Macmillan Publishers) and Delacorte Press (an offshoot of Penguin Random House) later this year.

Furthermore, he stated that he had no intention of using his firm to publish the works of other writers. His success stems from his ability to sell to his own devoted audience, which may not be interested in purchasing the works of other artists.

Sanderson claimed that trying new things was one of his motivations for working on this project. His initial goal was to envision a way to challenge Amazon’s hegemony. According to Sanderson, the vast majority of his sales are made up of e-books and audiobooks, with Amazon selling more than half of the printed books in the United States.

Sanderson argued that the publishing business would benefit from a reduced influence from Amazon because “publishers are very much under Amazon’s thumb right now.” I don’t mean to make it sound like Brandon is going up against Amazon.

You can’t beat Amazon. However, I believe that Amazon’s monopoly status will hurt the company in the long run. Without rivals, they have little incentive to improve their products.

Bundling and upselling were other strategies he was interested in testing. He claimed traditional publishing houses provided few services and few alternatives. The Kickstarter rewards start at $40 for four electronic books and go up to $500 for the same books in all formats and eight cartons of “swag.”

Some other well-known authors also self-publish from time to time. After publishing his first book, “Triggered,” with an imprint of Hachette, Donald Trump Jr. went in that direction with his second book, “Liberal Privilege.”

In addition, some other well-known authors occasionally release their own works independently. After publishing his first book, “Triggered,” with an imprint of Hachette, Donald Trump Jr. went in that direction with his second book, “Liberal Privilege.”

Many hybrid publications are “happening silently in the background,” according to McLean. It’s how professional writers in different genres handle their careers.