Monday, March 21, 2022

What everyone is missing regarding Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter


Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter has been huge! $32.1M and counting - making it the highest-funded Kickstarter of all time.  A lot has been written about it. Some are asking if this puts a death-nail in traditional publishing? Some (bitter authors eating sour grapes), are lambasting it due to white privilege. Others wonder why someone so rich needs to do a Kickstarter. Here's a hint - Kickstarters aren't always about "need" but they always provide a more personal buying experience between creator and buyer.

Brandon did an excellent post that addressed some questions and provide some answers as to what he was trying to accomplish.

In it, he mentioned how he feels like there is a gun to his head.  85% of his income comes from Amazon, and if something were to happen he could see his whole livelihood vanish. But as someone who has been doing Kickstarters for a decade, I want to mention something that Brandon didn't spend much (or any as I recall) time on.

Here's the BIG secret of why Kickstarters are so important. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.  It's the emails stupid. I say "stupid" because I feel publishers have been exactly that in relying on retailers to sell their books. Amazon makes a ton of money, but their most valued asset is the millions (maybe billions) of emails they have collected over time. Why, oh why, haven't publishers understood this? It's one of the reasons Amazon rules and traditional publishers struggle.

Brandon will have the email addresses of 134,500+ readers--each one of which is willing to open heir wallet to give him money. These are fans so loyal, that they'll buy something even without knowing what it is!

It's not the 32.1 Million that is keeping the gun from Brandon's head - it's the fact that he can reach out -- personally - to his fanbase at any time and tell them, "Hey, guys/gals. I've written something new - would you like to support me to get it?" 

That's why I got into Kickstarters. I LIKE having that personal connection with my readers, and I know that if publishers, Amazon, and all the other "middlemen" disappear. I have my own little list (much less than 135,000) where I can reach out, and my bills will get paid.

I don't see anyone else talking about this, but when I recommend to fellow authors to do Kickstartarters, this is a big part of the reason.  

Oh, and I want to give a big thank you to Brandon for pointing out my own longevity in doing Kickstarters. At the end of his blog he writes:

"This is a step I could take.  It’s something I’ve wanted to try for years.  I’m certainly not the first to try it–not even the first bestselling fantasy novelist.  (Michael J. Sullivan has been using Kickstarter for almost a decade now to indie publish books.  He’s an excellent writer, and recently had a very successful Kickstarter of his own that deserves attention.)"

If you missed my Farilane Kickstarter, you can still join the fun by coming through the "backdoor." We can manually add you to the project if you tell us what you want at this link. 

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