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Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Cash


SpaceChampion
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Sanderson's is $23,000 from becoming the most funded Kickstarter ever, technically... but the most funded, the Pebble smart watch, was done back in early 2015. Adjusting for inflation, Sanderson needs another $4 million to be the inflation-adjusted #1.

Re: future of publishing, I think it's the future for a rarified segment of authors. 

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Yeah, I don’t see the appeal of that at all. I might buy the books if he publishes them but all the rest of the stuff around it just seems a pain.

I’m also not entirely sure why he needs a Kickstarter anyway? If he wants to self publish some books/sell some other stuff why doesn’t he just take some preorders and just sell them? He’s already got a clearly established customer base. Seems a little dubious.

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3 hours ago, ljkeane said:

Yeah, I don’t see the appeal of that at all. I might buy the books if he publishes them but all the rest of the stuff around it just seems a pain.

I’m also not entirely sure why he needs a Kickstarter anyway? If he wants to self publish some books/sell some other stuff why doesn’t he just take some preorders and just sell them? He’s already got a clearly established customer base. Seems a little dubious.

My impression from the video is that it’s something of an experiment to see a) how many people buy the books and b) how popular the extra loot boxes are. Now that he/his team have the figures then maybe in future they will do that.

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8 minutes ago, Maltaran said:

My impression from the video is that it’s something of an experiment to see a) how many people buy the books and b) how popular the extra loot boxes are. Now that he/his team have the figures then maybe in future they will do that.

Yeah, I'm still not a huge fan. The nature of kickstarters is that there's very little in the way of commitment to follow through on what you've promised. I understand it for people who're really struggling to access financing for their project but I doubt that really applies to Sanderson. Okay there are probably some start up costs to self publishing these books and whatever else he's going to provide but he's an author with a track record of selling millions of books. If he'd gone to a bank with a business plan and said I've got x million number of people signed up to pre orders I doubt he'd have a problem getting a loan to cover it.

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1 hour ago, ljkeane said:

Yeah, I'm still not a huge fan. The nature of kickstarters is that there's very little in the way of commitment to follow through on what you've promised. I understand it for people who're really struggling to access financing for their project but I doubt that really applies to Sanderson. Okay there are probably some start up costs to self publishing these books and whatever else he's going to provide but he's an author with a track record of selling millions of books. If he'd gone to a bank with a business plan and said I've got x million number of people signed up to pre orders I doubt he'd have a problem getting a loan to cover it.

But why go to the bank and get a loan when people will just give you the money up front?

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1 minute ago, Ninefingers said:

But why go to the bank and get a loan when people will just give you the money up front?

Clearly that's the choice he's made. But in my opinion taking money off people without much in the way of an actual commitment to definitely provide any goods or services, especially when you really don't need to, is a little sketchy and doesn't reflect well on Sanderson.

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I would fully expect Sanderson to refund if something led to his failing to be able to fulfill his pledges.

Kickstarter is as much a marketing tool as it is a financial one, and the prominent mention of BackerKit shows that this is really a marketing exercise. He wants to see what kind of reach he has, how much this line of business can get him, without having to hire a market research company or take a guess. Just Kickstart it, get the supporters (and their e-mails for the e-mail lists), and go. 

 

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6 hours ago, ljkeane said:

But in my opinion taking money off people without much in the way of an actual commitment to definitely provide any goods or services, especially when you really don't need to, is a little sketchy and doesn't reflect well on Sanderson.

Why exactly doesn't it reflect well on him? Why would he not use Kickstarter? It gives him and his team a nice overview of how many people would be interested overall and how many would go for specific packages, lets them plan how many and what items they need to prepare and ship out AND it gets them money upfront for the project. In the off chance the project doesn't get funded, they are off the hook and they didn't get themselves into any financial hassle regarding loans and stuff.

As far as commitment to provide something is concerned, Sanderson is definitely top tier among fantasy writers. Based on his track record, I see no reason to doubt his word.

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Given his readership, Brandon Sanderson's finds himself in an enviable position that allows him to call the shots like this without having to fork out a single penny out of his pocket. It's not the future of publishing. Not by a long shot. But authors with huge fan bases will likely try this option more and more in the years to come.

I mean, if it works for Michael J. Sullivan, why not for more popular authors? But in order for this to work, you need to be very close to your fan base and know how to get them excited. Sanderson has proven that he can do that time and time again.

Even better, his readers have shown that they'll buy almost anything, regardless of the quality. And, often, regardless of the price.

So Sanderson would be a fool not to take advantage of that. Especially if he has 4 novels' worth of material just lying around. Moreover, going down the self-publishing road means that he doesn't have to split his royalties with his agents. That's 15% saved for domestic sales and 20% saved for international sales. That's a lot more money in his pocket.

So good for him!

Edited by Lord Patrek
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He’s already had one successful Kickstarter before this. In terms of commitment, he has his entire company behind this. I don’t think using a Kickstarter speaks poorly to him. Kickstarter has a whole section for fiction and graphic novels. It’s a great way of funneling pre orders.

He doesn’t need a loan, he has over $20mm in pre ordered money that is given to him in less than a month. Loans are given to businesses generally when they don’t have enough cash to pay for all of their operating costs, amongst other reasons….but those costs would have been baked into the amount of the pre ordered tier, along with a cushion and a profit margin. Crowdsourcing’s entire appeal allows a business to grow or form by appealing directly to customers. It’s whole purpose is so you don’t go to a bank.

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I believe Sanderson is now firmly the biggest Kickstarter ever, inflation-adjusted. And many days left. This could break $30 million.

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Dammit... I'm such a sheep.  400 pages is right in the wheelhouse of where I like Sanderson.

So I now have an account at Kickstarter.  

:leaving: 

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I have respect for this guy.  He's literally going to pay for the production of these books himself.  That means the paper, printing, all of it.  Plus storage and the distribution.  Among other things, this means hiring a lot of people -- he's contributing to the economy at large.  He's investing in his country.  I, for one, appreciate this immensely.

 

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4 hours ago, Zorral said:

I have respect for this guy.  He's literally going to pay for the production of these books himself.  That means the paper, printing, all of it.  Plus storage and the distribution.  Among other things, this means hiring a lot of people -- he's contributing to the economy at large.  He's investing in his country.  I, for one, appreciate this immensely.

 

He's not. The backers will.

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Really don't like the trend of already successful brands using kickstarter when they don't need kickstarting.

Also as much as I think Sanderson is a more readable author than some here I also strongly dislike the parasocial stuff he does to drive and maintain engagement with his fandom, which then leads in to projects like this where fans are forking over hundreds/thousands of dollars to a millionaire for what amounts overpaying for some books because of the promise of some extra fucking stickers or whatever in the mail every month. Maybe I'd be more enthusiastic if I had money, or if I didn't have a very strong feeling that the average age of a Sanderson reader is significantly younger than that of most other writers we discuss around here, but as it is his kickstarter projects and general way of engaging with his fans are starting to actively bother me because it really feels exploitative. Way too many of these people feel like they have some sort of relationship with the man, and a lot of the stuff he's selling via these projects (from his previous kickstarter I'm thinking stickers, pin badges, random pieces of artwork, coins etc.) feel like he's tapping in to/taking over the kind of market that I (and I think most people) would be comfortable spending more because they'd be made by fans and sold at cons or on etsy or whatever, except now it's official merch with extra FOMO.

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24 minutes ago, Poobah said:

I also strongly dislike the parasocial stuff he does to drive and maintain engagement with his fandom

I don't know if I dislike it, but he's very definitely worked out how to market himself to his audience. 

24 minutes ago, Poobah said:

overpaying for some books

$160 for four hardcovers with interior illustrations + digital copies is, honestly, perfectly reasonable retail pricing (though, yes, the shipping side of it makes it very unreasonable for people not in  North America). It's about the low end of the Folio Society's beautiful books. IMO, no one at the $40, $60, or $160 tier is overpaying (caveats about shipping costs aside) unless the books are made with the cheapest possible paper and glued spines and the audiobooks are recorded by Sanderson in a bathroom or something. 

32 minutes ago, Poobah said:

feel like he's tapping in to/taking over the kind of market that I (and I think most people) would be comfortable spending more because they'd be made by fans and sold at cons or on etsy or whatever, except now it's official merch with extra FOMO.

I do think this is a genuine exploitative aspect of things and worth critiquing. The book side of it is fine by me, IMO, the pricing is fair and the fact is that he strongly implies it'll eventually be available through regular channels (just not in that particular limited edition, but whatever). But a bunch of limited edition merch that you only get if you sign up for this expensive package within a month or lose out the chance... yeah, that's pushing buttons of obsessives and completists and just fans who want to feel like they're "real" fans.

 

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1 hour ago, Lord Patrek said:

I get what you're saying about this blatant exploitative aspect of the project.

Then again, no one is putting a gun to their heads.

:agree:

 

With the exception of trying to read his own first novel and giving it up as such a dreadful maiming of the English language, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph,  I never have and never will read a single thing Sanderson's written -- including the Jordan franchise -- I have no idea as to whether there is exploitation here or not.  It's still a massive production effort that he's got to effectively oversee, and no one person can do that, which means hiring people, right?  Otherwise this will be like the great Beltway convoy that never happened, to which many people contributed loads of money with the expectation it would take out the US government and replace the badorangeadehair.

I'm perfectly happy to admit being wrong here, though it sounds pretty much like the usual sf/f outrage over who knows what that must blow up -- it has been decreed along with the 10 Tablets -- lo, these millennia ago -- every few months or so.

 

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1 hour ago, Ninefingers said:

Too bad there's not a "buy just the thing you want" option.

That's the thing. If you added on specific boxes and got a bit of a discount if you went for all of them, it would be fine -- it's a limited thing, but you only have to buy the limited things you are actually interested in. Bundling all the boxes together is the exploitative part, IMO. 

That said, I can't blame the use of Kickstarter despite his being an established brand. This specific thing he's doing is unprecedented, and Kickstarting it greatly reduces his risk while also offering a terrific boost to visibility (the news that it rapidly climbed to #2, and the #1, on Kickstarter's all-time list no doubt brought his name to the attention of hundreds of thousands who've never heard of him before.)

 

 

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