Brandon Sanderson made headlines last year with his record-breaking $41 million Kickstarter to sell 4 new books with assorted swag. I had never heard of him before, but he is a big deal. He writes epic fantasy set in the kingdom of Cosmere, stories that span more than 21 books.
Raising $41 million for books is phenomenal. This campaign demonstrates that Kickstarter is a legitimate way, if done properly, to launch a new book or series. Also, it shows that more than ever the power is with authors. Content is king. And authors that build their fan bases have the power in the book ecosystem. Amazing!
Quite frankly until this happened, I didn’t know that authors were using Kickstarter to launch books. I thought it was a place bootstrap startups went to raise money to make tech devices. Unlike the technology projects on Kickstarter, authors have already finished writing their books before they launch their campaign. Instead of getting the money to make something, author Kickstarters are about selling books, special editions, and swag to their super fans.
For more info, check out Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter by Russell P. Nohelty & Monica Leonelle.
I don’t write books to teach lessons, I write books to be uplifting in people’s lives.Brandon Sanderson
Success Brings Envy: Grace Under Fire
Brandon Sanderson has been in the news again because Wired magazine printed a nasty article about him. I am a huge proponent of free speech. If this guy wants to write a negative article about Brandon Sanderson, more power to him. But what I find puzzling is the reporter didn’t do his job. The article was supposed to be a profile of Sanderson and his author business. Instead, the reporter talks a lot about how boring and lame Sanderson is. If you thought he was such a bad subject for a profile, why do it? A reporter’s job is to make his subject interesting, not complain that he is boring. In my opinion, this guy didn’t do his job.
This negative article got a lot of attention from Sanderson’s fans who defended him and trashed the reporter online.
In a wonderful example of grace and humility, Sanderson wrote a piece on Reddit asking his fans to stand down and respect the reporter as a writer.
There are three things to notice here:
1. The more successful you are, you become a target. Unfortunately, some people react with envy and jealousy when you do something amazing, they wish they could have done. So be prepared for negative backlash when you succeed.
2. Don’t take it to heart. See it for what it is, meaningless jealousy that has no effect on who you are and what you did.
3. Don’t let the attacks turn you into someone you’re not. Be graceful under fire and stay classy.
A lovely Esquire piece came out about the same time which explains in detail the story empire that Brandon Sanderson has built with his IP and how he runs his business. It’s worth a read.
I’d like to give a special shout out to Anna David , whose coverage of the Brandon Sanderson kerfuffle inspired this piece. Anna is an author and publisher with a wonderful newsletter about writing, creativity, and books. You can sign up for it here .
Brandon Sanderson teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University, and he’s put all 14 lectures on YouTube so you can take it for free.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Taylor Smith is right. Haters are gonna hate and you just gotta shake it off.
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