Brandon Sanderson’s Successful Kickstarter Faces Criticism

Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter exceeds $30 million, making his campaign the most successful of all time. But it has also come with its own negativity. Find out why some people are mad at Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign.

Sanderson Launches KickStarter Campaign

Earlier this month, Sanderson launched a Kickstarter campaign for new four books, three of them taking place in his famous Cosmere. Sanderson and his team are offering oot-style boxes with merchandise themed around his various series.

The successful author of the Mistborn series thought that his novels would do a small amount compared to what has actually happened.

I had guessed around two to four million dollars

Brandon Sanderson

In a video call with Comicbook, Sanderson said he didn’t think this Kickstarter would do more then his last one which went on to do over $6 million.

 This is my second Kickstarter. My first Kickstarter was for a leather bound edition of The Way of Kings. I thought that since it was for a leather bound book, it was going to have more people buying the more expensive options. With the new Kickstarter, I thought we’d probably get more people just buying the e-book at the lower price point. Also, The Way of Kings is my most famous and most popular book, so I figured it’ll get more attention. 

Brandon Sanderson


But with success comes controversy. There have been many authors who have come after Sanderson and his campaign. Not many authors can go that route because they doin’t have that kind of money, fandom, or even the resources. Sanderson has a team built up to make this happen.

What you’re seeing with this Kickstarter is something that I am uniquely situated to be able to do. I have a fulfillment team, which most authors do not have. I built my fulfillment team to send out leather bound editions of my books, which my publishers in New York were not interested in doing. It just wasn’t a part of the market that they wanted. And so they gave those rights back to me and I’ve been producing them myself for almost 10 years. So, I have a warehouse, I have HR, I have 30 employees and I am able to ship out a lot of things on my own. That’s just not something, even people who have my level of fandom, could do very easily or even would really want to do.

Brandon Sanderson

As you can see, Sanderson carved out this niche and has taken his team and gone full throttle. Instead of only releasing leather bound editions, which he still does, him and his team decided to put out four whole books.

Another reason that authors and fans have an issue is that this opportunity isn’t equally presented to authors of color or female authors. A female writer named Stacey Jay launched a kickstarter in 2015 for her novel that publishers didn’t want to publish but she felt had a lot of support. But people were angry that she included living expenses in her Kickstarter. She deleted her Kickstarter campaign and her social media as a result.

Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter
Brandon Sanderson’s massively successful Kickstarter campaign.

Sanderson on the other hand, has been praised for making millions. People have been (wrongly) saying how Sanderson should use part of the money he earned to fund other not as successful readers. One, that is his hard earned money and two, that will make him a gate-keeper and will lead to its own controversy.

My Thoughts on the Controversy

While I disagree with the criticism that is being thrown at Sanderson, I do agree with Sanderson himself that bookstores are hurt because of his campaign. They would have made a profit but since this is all in-house, Sanderson and his team will be seeing all the money after covering the cost.

My biggest regret with this Kickstarter is I’m cutting out the bookstores. And I think a lot of your readers’ local comic shops are a big and important fixture in their lives. The local bookstores are the same sort of fixture in our lives for those who love reading books. I think that bookstores are the best place still to discover new writers. It’s so hard to get attention as a new author and bookstores are really great at giving readers a place to find new authors.

Brandon Sanderson

You don’t have to hate on a person’s success if they end up doing really well. Sanderson built the foundation that led to this successful campaign. And he was rewarded because an initiate he took put him in a great position to release his own books on his own terms. Let’s celebrate a great success story and let it be a great example instead of taking away from the biggest campaign in Kickstarter history.

7 thoughts on “Brandon Sanderson’s Successful Kickstarter Faces Criticism

  1. mayrosalies says:

    A really objective, balanced view presented in this article. Personally, I agree that nothing I’ve read from this ‘controversy’ seems to merit the amount of backlash he has received from the writer community—those funds weren’t driven by gatekeeping publishers, but rather interested consumers themselves, and it makes little sense to fault an author for attracting more attention than an arbitrary set of descriptors when in fact any author with a similarly devoted fanbase would be capable of receiving similar outcomes if they took to managing their own exclusive releases.

    Yet, the seemingly envious authors on Twitter only served to put a target on their own back in the case they themselves make high earnings in the future, and people who were looking to explore more diverse unknown authors will only feel stigmatized now that it has been posed as more of a censorious obligation than something which should come naturally.

  2. I-am-stan-ze-man says:

    I am a big fan of his and i have read many of his books. I don’t like that it i hurting bookstores, but it is his life and he is not doing anything illegal or morally evil. Also you wrote Brando Sanderson in the first paragraph. (Finally someone other than me made a misspelling. 🤣🤣😂)

    1. Ahaqir says:

      Thanks , I’ll fix it now :’) From what I’ve seen, it seems like the publishers are making him go past the bookstores by not accommodating the leather books.

      1. I-am-stan-ze-man says:

        ok. Why does he want the leather books?? Aren’t they just more expensive. Is there a specific reason he likes them? All of his books that i have read were hardcover. (I read Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians and the Steelheart series as well as some others.)

      2. Ahaqir says:

        I haven’t really heard why. I think from the interview he was saying there was a demand, but not enough that the publishers wanted to do it

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