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Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter for 4 secret novels raises $15M in first day

He quietly wrote four whole books in the past two years

Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

Fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Sanderson has become a household name thanks to his prolific output, and he’s been very busy lately. On Tuesday, Sanderson launched a Kickstarter to fundraise for four novels that he secretly wrote over the past two years. The campaign “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson,” run by his parent company Dragonsteel Entertainment, brought in more than $15 million in its first day. It is well on its way to shattering fundraising records on the platform.

The secret novels do not yet have names — the Kickstarter includes a mockup image, where the books are entitled “Secret Project #1,” “Secret Project #2,” and so on. They’re each full length, with three in his existing Cosmere setting, and one that’s “completely different,” Sanderson says in the Kickstarter campaign’s opening video.

Mockup images of four Brandon Sanderson books, that will be Kickstarter rewards for backing the campaign.
A mockup of the four secret books. Designs are not final, according to the Kickstarter campaign.
Image: Steve Argyle, Howard Lyon, and Geoff Shupe/Dragonsteel Entertainment via Kickstarter

Those who back the Kickstarter will receive one new book for each quarter in 2023 in the format of their choice. There are also reward tiers that allow backers sign up for eight subscription boxes with swag themed around Sanderson’s existing worlds or concepts.

In the Kickstarter video, Sanderson says the project started as a secret gift to his wife, but soon developed into something more, reminding him of the early days of his writing career when he “could write whatever [he] wanted, when [he] wanted.” He credits the time he saved not traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic with giving him the extra flexibility to write, while noting “life has been tough lately.” He refers to these secret novels as a “silver lining,” in the difficult past two years.

On Tuesday, Sanderson also posted a longer YouTube video, “It’s Time to Come Clean,” to his account, where he gives even more details about the project. The funny video includes several whiteboards detailing the project timeline.

Over the course of his career, Sanderson has penned numerous series and created fantastical worlds, notably Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive (both set in the Cosmere universe), and finished Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He has also penned a number of series aimed at younger audiences. This isn’t Sanderson’s first Kickstarter: In 2021 Dragonsteel Entertainment ran a successful campaign, raising $6,788,517 to to fund a 10th anniversary leatherbound edition of his The Way of Kings.

“I’ve always loved the idea of surprising you with something new, something unexpected,” Sanderson says in the new campaign’s video. “I wanted to take my readers to the furthest reaches of my imagination to be constantly offering some incredible, yet unexpected, experience. It’s one of the things I’ve wanted to do throughout my career.”

“Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson” will run until March 31 at 7 p.m. EDT.

Update (March 4): Sanderson’s project surpassed $20 million in funding this morning, and it is now the highest-funded Kickstarter of all time, having broken the $20,338,986 record set by the Pebble Time smartwatch in 2015. In a note on the Kickstarter page, Sanderson said that he was “floored” by the support, and thanked fans for helping him make his “dreams into realities.”

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