From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
The conversation started about 10 hours after Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter went live. That’s when the press noticed that a writer made millions in the space of a few hours—without the help of any major publishing house.
Brandon’s own fans are doing this. I’m writing this post about 3 days after the Kickstarter went live. Sometime in the last 24 hours, this Kickstarter campaign became the largest campaign ever held on Kickstarter.
It only took two days to see the panic in the company town newspaper (The New York Times):
But self-publishing on the scale Sanderson is proposing is an enormously complicated proposition. Fundamentally, most authors want to write books, not run a publishing house.
Books require editors, designers and lawyers. Someone has to register the ISBN number and file for copyright. Someone else has to proofread the manuscript, then proofread it again. Printing thousands of copies of physical books, then storing and distributing them, is expensive and onerous.
It’s as if the past 12 years hadn’t happened at all. As if there weren’t hundreds of freelance copy editors and designers. As if registering for an ISBN is hard. As if hiring a lawyer is even harder. (And really, who wants a lawyer who works for the tiny salaries paid by a publishing company? That lawyer is clearly not ambitious or maybe even a great lawyer.)
But, you see, Brandon has a company (how lucky for him!) and that’ll enable him to do this. Sigh.
It’s long enough for the press to pick up the story, but not long enough for them to understand it. Most of them never will, just like they haven’t understood publishing for decades. (If ever.)
It’s also long enough for the stupid to have started. On Twitter, Brandon had an entire thread and it was filled with stupid.
I was going to have a Kickstarter this week, but he sucked all the air out of the room.
What? It would be a great time to run a publishing Kickstarter campaign. Readers are crawling all over Kickstarter right now.
He’s only getting this money because he’s a privileged white guy.
Um, anyone can do a Kickstarter. And while there is a great argument to be made about white privilege and traditional publishing (y’know, that thing promoted by that company paper, The New York Times), platforms like Kickstarter and the various ebook companies don’t care what anyone looks like. BIPOC have the same access that Brandon does.
Why is he so successful here?
Because Brandon has tended his fannish garden. In other words, he cultivated his fans. He has a lot of them. He has worked with them, promoting items to them and giving them free stuff for more than a decade.
Much more important than that, though, is this: his readers love his work.
You might not love Brandon’s work but think about it this way:
Take Brandon’s name off this and insert the name of your very favorite writer, the one whose books you buy no questions asked.
Then imagine that writer just told you that he’s written four books that you can get in special editions or early or in totally cool ways and not through the usual publishing channels.
You’d run, not walk, to plunk down your $40 and get four novels in 2023. Be honest. You would. (Or your teenage self would, if you’re too cool to have a favorite these days.)
Brandon has that kind of fanbase. But here’s what the press and the jealous people on Twitter are missing.
Brandon beat the record on Kickstarter in three days. (He has most of a month left to go, as I write this.) Within three days, his Kickstarter was $21.8 million. At that point, only 90,020 people had backed the Kickstarter.
Yes, I said “only.”
Because his novels have sold 20 million copies, according to that company paper, The New York Times. Of course, the Times isn’t telling us how many copies each individual novel has sold, but let’s say that Brandon has a million readers who never miss a book.
That means that only 9% of his regular readers have ponied up the money on Kickstarter.
Only 9% in three days.
Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.