How fantasy novels blew away Kickstarter’s record

Author Brandon Sanderson doubled Kickstarter’s previous record for most-funded project with a good campaign and a passionate fan base.

A fantasy author just smashed Kickstarter’s record for most-funded project at $41.7m+ from 185k+ backers.

For reference, the previous record was $20.3m for a smartwatch in 2015, per CNBC.

Meet Brandon Sanderson…

… an accomplished sci-fi/fantasy author who wrote 4 new novels during the pandemic. He told fans he’d completed the manuscripts via his Kickstarter, which essentially served as a pre-order.

Depending on donation level, backers get them as e-books, audio books, and/or printed novels quarterly through 2023.

Margot Atwell, Kickstarter’s former head of publishing, attributes Sanderson’s success to:

  • A good campaign, with a compelling video, appealing rewards, and a clear timeline for when backers will receive them.
  • Trust in Sanderson. He’s got a passionate fan base and is well-known in his genre. He finished Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic Wheel of Time (now an Amazon TV series) after the author’s death in 2007.
  • Algorithms and internet hype. Projects can blow up on Kickstarter as backers sign on and share, causing the platform to recommend the project to others.

Plus, fandoms are moneymakers

Several of Kickstarter’s top projects are for genre work:

  • Fantasy board game “Frosthaven” raised $12.9m+ in 2020, the most successful game on Kickstarter
  • Horror board game “Kingdom Death: Monster” raised $12.3m+ in 2017
  • “Dungeons & Dragons” web series “Critical Role” raised $11.3m+ in 2019 to make an animated special. (Amazon later picked up the series.)

Kickstarter told The Hustle that, in 2021, sci-fi/fantasy projects represented ~30% of all publishing projects on the platform, bringing in ~$9m.

Of course, Sanderson’s project will blow that figure out of the water for 2022.

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