The big news in the publishing world today is Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter for four new novels. The totals just keep going up, but as you can see from my screenshot he is approaching 65k backers and $16.6M. That comes out to an average of $250 per backer, an impressive showing.
This is big news because Sanderson is the best seller at Tor, and him setting out on his own like this means lots of other authors who don’t sell well will no longer be propped up by his sales.
Tim Zahn tried this out in a small way in 2020 with a novella Ghost Riders in the Sky, but at least for now Zahn seems to be doing very well with his Star Wars novels featuring Thrawn, but it is probably nice to have a plan B. Also, Zahn is much older than Sanderson, which likely makes for a different risk calculus.
This sort of thing has been sort of toddling along for decades now. Jerry Pournelle tried an early version of this with Patron subscriptions, but he was too old to really turn out books by that time, and a bout with glioblastoma meant he never really finished his last book Mamelukes. Patreon was of course created to do this kind of thing, and even Onlyf*ns, before it found its niche in selling lewd pictures, was trying for this same model of consumers directly supporting artists.
Galaxy’s Edge authors Nick Cole and Jason Anspach have an Insider subscription that costs about half of what Sanderson’s readers are putting up per year, but since it is all under their own system no numbers that I know of are published. I suspect it isn’t 65k subscribers, because with that kind of money Nick and Jason would probably be making their own movies, something they have said they would like to do.
It will be interesting to see if this spreads. Will Wight could probably do really well with something like this, but for now he just seems to fund his operations from book sales. And of course lots of authors have been selling books this way for years, but when a big name like Sanderson does it people pay more attention.