Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter Breaks Every Record Imaginable

His Kickstarter for four surprise books is the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever

Daniel Stell, Managing Editor



The fantasy genre has become one of the most profitable genres in fiction, now with millions of readers worldwide. One of the most prolific fantasy writers of this generation is Brandon Sanderson. Brandon is a writer from Utah who got his first taste of fame when he was chosen to finish the Wheel of Time saga originally written by the late Robert Jordan. Since then, Brandon has written over 50 books for varying age groups, with his most popular franchise being the Cosmere. The Cosmere is a vast collection of series, stand-alone novels, novellas, and short stories all part of a connected universe. Though each story is generally disconnected from one another, they are still connected through overarching themes and conflicts, recurring characters, and rules that govern how magic functions in every single world. Brandon has often referred to his Cosmere as “the epic behind the scenes”: a saga of stories all connected, even if the characters do not know it (Sanderson). 

Brandon during this time also built up a reputation for his speed and dedication to his writing. He is known for averaging 370,000 words a year (Moher) ever since the release of his first novel Elantris in 2005. For many of his fans, this is seen as a hilarious characteristic of the author. Fans have created a multitude of YouTube sketch videos and memes surrounding the topic since it became part of his reputation. But no one was expecting just how true this was to Brandon’s character. 

On March 1st of 2022, Brandon released a video on his YouTube channel titled “It’s Time to Clean.” In this video, Brandon tried to lead fans on through vague apologies for keeping secrets from them for so long. After the video was posted, Brandon stated in an interview for CBS Mornings that he wanted to make the fans believe that he “might be retiring” (Miller). However, this was not the case, as he revealed to his fans that he wrote 5 extra novels in two years. This astonishing feat was the result of years of pressure from editors and publishers to get books done on time being washed away after the COVID-19 pandemic began. In his video, he states that a major part of his time before 2020 was devoted to traveling, which decreased not just his time to write, but also his ability to spend time with his family. Once the pandemic hit, he began to feel like he was back at the beginning of his career. 

He wrote all 3 of the novels for his wife Emily, one for his children who are all middle-grade or below, and one purely for himself (Sanderson). His wife told him that the world had to see what he has written, so he decided to run a Kickstarter the moment the video was uploaded to YouTube. People who donated to the Kickstarter got either e-books, e-books and audiobooks as a bundle, hardcover copies and e-books, or all of it together. Higher donations could also get what was called a “Year of Sanderson,” which got them one of those choices as well as a full year of swag items from Brandon’s online merchandise in between getting 4 of the 5 novels quarterly throughout 2023.

Within the first hour, the campaign reached far beyond its goal of $1 million. Within three days, it became the highest-grossing Kickstarter campaign of all time, ending on March 31st at $41.7 million. This tops the previous record holder which was Pebble Technology’s Kickstarter for smartwatches which reached $20.3 million (Whitten). Luckily, a good amount of this Kickstarter money isn’t being put into just the books or Brandon’s wallet. As the campaign began to make even more money, Brandon and his team at Dragonsteel Entertainment donated to over three hundred Kickstarter campaigns focused on publishing that was not “too unsafe for work” (Holt). This shows Brandon’s dedication to the publishing industry, even though his Kickstarter has sent shockwaves into that same company. 

In March, Brandon released previews of the 4 novels he is publishing for the Kickstarter. These were rough drafts but were enough to give fans a good idea of what they are getting into. Three of the books are part of his connected universe the Cosmere while one of the others will be completely disconnected from anything he has written. The first of the Cosmere books is Tress of the Emerald Sea which was written for his wife Emily. The plot was inspired by Princess Bride, Emily’s favorite movie, with the basic premise: “What if Buttercup were more proactive?” (Sanderson). The second Cosmere book is Yumi and the Nightmare Painter which was inspired by Korean mythology and Japanese anime/manga such as Your Name. It has a more dramatic vibe than Tress’s fairy-tale vibe, with a body-swapping-Esque storyline. The third and final Cosmere book is The Sunlit Man which is a light spinoff of his massive epic fantasy series The Stormlight Archive. This spinoff novel details a side character from the Stormlight series on a new planet trying to escape while also trying to learn how the magic of this world works. Out of all of these novels, The Sunlit Man is said by Brandon to not be the best introduction to the Cosmere. 

The fourth and final book will be called The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England which is very different and disconnected from any of his other book series and universes. It details a man waking up in another dimension with a medieval aesthetic, only to realize he is now the owner of this dimension. If you didn’t have time or money to donate to this Kickstarter, don’t worry. The books from this campaign will not stay as books that are only accessible to campaign backers and will most likely be published widely afterward. 

Brandon has solidified himself as one of the most prolific authors of this generation, and maybe even of all time. This Kickstarter campaign is enough to change the publishing scene for good as new authors will see the success of Brandon on his own. 


Works Cited

Holt, Kris. “Brandon Sanderson’s Record-Breaking Kickstarter Campaign Ends with $41.7 Million.” Engadget, 1 Apr. 2022,  

Miller, Michelle. “Author Brandon Sanderson on Kickstarter Campaign, New Books.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 29 Mar. 2022, 

Moher, Aidan. “Brandon Sanderson Is the Hardest-Working Man in Fantasy.” B&N Reads, 6 Nov. 2021,,average%2C%20370%2C000%20words%20per%20year

Sanderson, Brandon. “First Look at Secret Project #1.” Brandon Sanderson, 3 Mar. 2022,

Sanderson, Brandon. “It’s Time to Come Clean — Brandon Sanderson – YouTube.” YouTube, 1 Mar. 2022,

Sanderson, Brandon. “What Is the Cosmere and Where Did It Come from?” YouTube, 11 Sept. 2020,

Whitten, Sarah. “Fantasy Author’s Record-Breaking Kickstarter Campaign Closes at $41.7 Million.” CNBC, CNBC, 1 Apr. 2022,