Fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson has announced the publication of four secret novels through a record-breaking Kickstarter: what did he announce and how much money did he raise?

If you are reading this article, you probably already know who the fantasy writer is Brandon Sanderson has just concluded a record-breaking crowdfunding for the publication of four new secret novels.
In this article we will look at how this incredible Kickstarter went, what the writer announced and what interesting events have happened this month.

Brandon Sanderson celebrating the success of his first Kickstarter
Brandon Sanderson celebrating the success of his first Kickstarter

A few words about Brandon Sanderson

First of all, it is good to quickly say a few words about Brandon Sanderson, to whom we have dedicated one of the very first articles on our site. For the uninitiated, Sanderson is one American fantasy writer, which has gained a lot of notoriety over the past decade.
Famous for being a extremely prolific author and capable of publishing up to two books a year, Sanderson has written original works (high fantasy, sci-fi and superhero) and completed the series of The Wheel of Time di Robert Jordan.

Several of Sanderson's works are set in a shared macro-universe, the Cosmoverse, with some characters who then find themselves between one saga and another. The best known sagas of him are the two series of Mistborn, The Chronicles of Folgoluce, the trilogy of Eliminators and the young adult sci-fi series by Skyward.
In Italy, Sanderson was initially published by Fanucci. After a series of disputes, now his books are published by Mondadori and Armenia.

The clickbait / prank video with which Sanderson announced the four secret novels
The clickbait / prank video with which Sanderson announced the four secret novels

The unexpected announcement of the four secret novels and the start of the Kickstarter

Il 28 February of this year, in one of his weekly videos in which he updates fans on the developments of his books, Sanderson announced that he would make a major announcement the next day. The author used a very serious tone, saying that "there are some things I need to tell you about" that would have affected his career further.
Many fans have worried to the announcement, fearing that the writer was about to announce that he had some serious health problem. Sanderson had to make it clear that he wasn't about to break such bad news.

How does Sanderson cope with the stress of the pandemic? Writing, of course

The next day, the 1 March, on Sanderson's YouTube channel it was posted a video entitled It's Time to Come Clean.
The video always begins with a very serious tone. Sanderson claims to lied to us and having to admit the truth: had written a new book! Secretly!
So, Sanderson went on: the past few years have stressed him a lot because his job forced him to spend a lot of time traveling to convention. But, during the pandemic, in the new free time given by the forced lockdown, the author found new time to write. And so it was, therefore, that the new book was born, written in secret as a gift for his wife.

But since the pandemic has been long and Sanderson responds to stress in his own way (by writing), he really didn't stop at just one book. At the beginning of 2021, wrote a second.
And in this way, he has rediscovered the pleasure of writing books for himself, because he likes it, because he has stories he wants to tell. All without the pressure of the editors or the expectations of the fans. Thanks to this rediscovery, between 2021 and 2022, Sanderson wrote three other books.

The announcement of the unexpected Kickstarter campaign

Of these five books, four are novels for adults, one is for children and will probably be adapted in the form of graphic novel. The author has not specified what these four secret novels are about: some are part of the Cosmoverso, others are something totally new.
At this point, Sanderson has announced that they want to publish the four novels, as they are ready and just need to be revised.
So, Sanderson threw yet another ad on the table: the four secret novels would have been published through a crowdfunding on Kickstarter. In this way, fans could receive a new book every four months, during 2023.
And when was the Kickstarter going to start?
But obviously right at the very moment of the publication of the video!

Meme about the four secret novels (actually five)
Meme about the four secret novels (actually five)

The Kickstarter of the four secret novels: a 41 million dollar hit

As anyone who hangs out on Kickstarter will know by now, crowdfunding is generally a business that is announced months in advance. Usually, they are preceded by months of hype and hype.
Brandon Sanderson, with his video confession of March 1, surprised everyone announcing a Kickstarter with zero notice. This is obviously a very particular choice, which clearly tries to leverage the loyalty of its fanbase. Indeed, as early as 2021, Sanderson had led a very successful Kickstarter to publish a luxury edition of his novel The way of kings, raising a whopping 6 million dollars.

Well, the Kickstarter to finance the four secret novels literally exploded.
He met his goal of one million dollars in 35 minutes. In six hours, it raised over $ 7 million, thus surpassing previous crowdfunding. In 24 hours we see over 10 million dollars.
On March 4, 20 million are reached and that of the four secret novels becomes the most funded crowdfunding ever on Kickstarter, even breaking the record of The Legend of Vox Machina by Critical Role. Sanderson commented on this record with a new video, saying “Folks, I'm supposed to write fantastic worlds, not live in them!”.
On April 1, crowdfunding closes, with the support of 185.000 Guests and over 41 million dollars collected.

Support for all other crowdfunding on Kickstarter

On March 25, when the Kickstarter of the four secret novels hit $ 30 million, Sanderson and his team did another announcement.
They have indeed decided to support all editorial crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Or rather, all, with the exception of projects with excessively explicit material and / or that do not comply with the terms of service of the platform.
The support came in the form of a generally high tier purchase. After supporting 80 projects, Kickstarter temporarily blocked the team's account (Dragonsteel Entertainment), as they suspected something shady was going on. Eventually, the team supported 316 literary projects.

The four secret novels of the Kickstarter
The four secret novels of the Kickstarter
ATTENTION: From here on the article will contain SPOILERS on the four secret novels!

What will the four secret novels be about?

At this point, it's time to take a quick look at what we know about the four secret novels to which the Kickstarter was dedicated. Obviously, for those who don't want spoilers about their plot, we recommend that you stop reading now.

The first secret novel: a seafaring story on a distant planet

The first secret novel was written in 2020 as a gift for the author's wife. Is titled Tress of the Emerald Sea and is set in the Cosmoverso.
The book seems to be set on a new planet of the Cosmoverse, a planet with twelve moons, some very close to the surface, from which poisonous spores rain, which make up the green seas of the planet.
The protagonist of the novel is Tress, a resident of an island of black salt rock, who is perfectly happy to stay where she is, and thank you very much. Tress is also in love with Charlie, the son of the Duke of the Island, whom everyone finds boring because he never stops telling stories about her, except her. Then, however, the duke returns from a journey with a new heir and without Charlie, sent to die in a distant sea.

The story is told from the point of view of hoid, one of the recurring characters of the Cosmoverse, who is de facto telling the story of Tress to someone. The novel is therefore written in a very discursive way, with typical Hoid jokes and puns.
Sanderson states that the novel is inspired by The Princess Bride.

The second secret novel: the temporal tourist

The second secret novel is called The Frugal Wizard's Guide for Surviving Medieval England. Of the four secret novels, this is the only one not set in the Cosmoverse.

The first chapters tell of a guy who wakes up in the center of a circle of burnt grass, wearing jeans, a magician's tunic and without remembering who he is and what he is doing in a field. A field where people dressed as medieval peasants appear. And on the grass, scattered and half scorched, the pages of what appears to be a guide to something. Maybe an amusement park?
Could the young man be a cosplayer? But why does he have the instinct to take a gun out of life? And to hide? Could he be a cop or a ninja?
And why does he know he has medical nanites in his body?
And why does that help page say that Frugal Wizard Inc.® gave it access to an "Earth-lite ™ dimension"?

This novel wants to tell a story a la Jason Bourne, which then explores the trope ofamnesia. In addition, Sanderson says he wanted to explore the concept of temporal tourism, without however the burden of changing the present.
The novel explores the concept of what people would do with temporal tourism, navigating even the morally more problematic aspects, but using the medium of satire.

The third secret novel: body swap between one world and another

The third secret novel is called Yumi and the Nightmare Painter and is in turn set in the Cosmoverso.
Unlike the others, this novel takes place in two different locations or, better said, on two different planets.

In Painter's, we see a world that is always dark, illuminated by neon, with a single star in the sky, and furrowed by nightmares that take shape and feed on people. Painter is a city security officer and must trap nightmares in paintings before they get too strong.
In Yumi's, the sun is a red giant and is very close, the ground is hot, the plants float on the currents of warm air, the water emerges in the form of geysers and most of the things come from the rituals that Yumi does to persuade the spirits to give gifts. Yumi is a Chosen One of her people and is trapped in a role that gives great honors, but takes away all personal freedom.

This story is also told by Hoid, but it has a less sarcastic tone and more narrative and serious. Sanderson says he took inspiration for this story from the manga Hikaru no go, in which the protagonist comes into possession of a go board with the spirit of an ancient master of the game inside.
In this story, therefore, Painter will find himself in Yumi's body, who will have to instruct him on how to do his job. Everyone will see and treat Painter as Yumi, although the man will always feel and see as himself. And, when they sleep, Yumi will find herself in the role of Painter in the dark world, with the roles reversed, and will have to learn how to do her job.
Other works that inspired Sanderson for this novel are of course Your Name, Final Fantasy X.

The fourth secret novel: the adventures of Sigzil in the Cosmoverso

The fourth secret novel is called The Sunlit Man and is always part of the Cosmoverso.
The story immediately puts us in the shoes of Nomad, a person who can jump from one world of the Cosmoverse to another and who has just fallen into a difficult situation. On the run, Nomad arrives at the scene of an execution, on a planet where the sun is very close and his light can charred humans.

Throughout history, it becomes clear that Nomad is a native of Roshar (the world of The Chronicles of Folgoluce) and that it is Sigzil, a secondary character who had been Hoid's pupil. The story is set in the rather distant future, so long after the fifth volume of The Chronicles of Folgoluce (still unpublished).
Caught between a society ruled by a barely human tyrant and a group of refugees trying to escape, unable to use their full powers due to the Tormento, Nomad / Sigzil must try to survive and figure out how to find the energy to leave.

The leatherbound editions of Sanderson's books
The editions leatherbound of Sanderson's books

Some conclusive words

After the record-breaking Kickstarter for the edition leatherbound de The way of kings, Brandon Sanderson breaks all Kickstarter records with the project of the four secret novels.
There is little to say: its success is surprising and speaks clearly of how big his fanbase is, affectionate and interested in spending.
The four new books are even secondary projects to its main sagas. Of course, from each of them (except the second) we will be able to learn interesting and useful things to know the Cosmoverse. But it's amazing how much hype there is about smaller projects like these.

Again hopefully this Sanderson success on Kickstarter convince some producers to seriously work on a film adaptation of the works of this writer. In the opinion of the writer, in fact, Sanderson just lacks the media coverage of cinema or television to make a real breakthrough. And already today he is more famous than other authors and authors, from whose books they have already made TV series or films, such as Shadow and Bones ed Eragon.
Now, however, we can enjoy these new four books. For the moment, an Italian translation has not been announced, nor agreements with Italy.