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Posts Tagged ‘brandon sanderson’

It’s Monday, and my brain is kind of full of work-related learning, so this will be a short post which mostly says, “Watch this video if you are interested in hearing about, among other things, Janci Patterson’s thoughts on co-writing.”

Brandon Sanderson has written several books of a series set in the Cytoverse (as opposed to in the Cosmere, which is where the Stormlight and Mistborn series are set). The fourth book is a collection of novellas which he wrote with Janci Patterson. The video is of a conversation they had about the new book. They talk about writing together, and Patterson talks about other co-written projects she has done as well as different aspects of her writing process.

I found it fascinating and entertaining, so I am sharing. You don’t have to know anything about either author or their books to enjoy the writing part of the discussion (which is most of it).

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There’s a Kickstarter campaign going on that is getting a lot of attention. I am trying and failing to remember how I found out about it in the first place.

Oh! I remember. There was some snarky post in my Twitter feed about *that* Kickstarter, and it didn’t take me long to discover that the epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson was behind it. The first helpful information I got came from John Scalzi’s Whatever blog. (Scalzi’s books don’t do much for me, but his blog is brilliant — bright, shiny, sharp, witty, and fun. Plus, he does this fabulous thing called The Big Idea where he features the work of other authors. Actually, it is probably more accurate to say that he encourages other authors to feature themselves on his site. It’s great. Go read it.) Then I checked out the Kickstarter campaign, which had already raised millions of dollars (with a stated goal of one million).

The screen shot below is the current tally as I write this post. If I did it correctly, you can click on the image, and it will take you to the live page, and you will get the most current number.

While you are there, you can watch the introductory video and read all about it. It’s an impressive project any way you look at it. There has been a lot of chatter about what it all means for publishing. My opinion is that it means virtually nothing for publishing. Sanderson still works with New York publishers and international publishers. He wanted to do something different for this project, and because of the company, brand, and fan base he has built over the last two decades or more, he is in a unique position to make it happen, as evidenced by how he and his team have evolved the project as the campaign becomes ever more successful.

Rather than having any sort of stretch goals, they are adding “thank you” features. Since they can scale up the print run of the hardcover books, the profit margin increases. Instead of pocketing that money, they are adding more color to the interior of the books, and they are enhancing the quality of some of the items in the swag boxes. They are even helping to mitigate the substantial overseas shipping costs by paying in advance any customs tax or duties the customer would ordinarily have to pay.

But I don’t really care what it does or doesn’t mean for publishing. I am interested in the story behind the project. What is going on behind the scenes? Sanderson is providing that information — LOTS of it –in updates, an FAQ, previews, and live streams, and I am just gobbling it up.

Epic fantasy isn’t really my thing. In another lifetime, as a bookstore employee, I referred to the work of folks like Terry Goodkind, George RR Martin, Terry Brooks, and Robert Jordan as “doorstop sagas.” I read a Terry Goodkind book which was pleasant enough but about 250 pages too long. Two characters took 30 pages to get out of a city, and nothing much happened to them along the way. There was no danger or hijinks or pursuit. It just took forever. I had a similar reaction to Game of Thrones. (I had LOTS of intense reactions to Game of Thrones, but that’s a subject for another day.)

One of Brandon Sanderson’s early claims to fame was that he was chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He has gone on to write several series of his own, the most ponderous of which is the Stormlight Archive. The first book, Way of Kings, is 1008 pages long.

Listening to him chatter away during the live streams, I get the impression that these stories come pouring out of him. I am not saying that it is always easy or that he doesn’t invest significant time in effort in writing and revising or that he doesn’t get stuck, but when it’s going well, the story just flows. And I think that this Kickstarter project is a clear example of stories just flowing. I mean, the man wrote four whole “extra” books (five if you count the YA graphic novel which is not part of the Kickstarter) during the pandemic by using the time he saved by not traveling on book tours and to conventions, keeping up with all of his other current writing obligations at the same time. At least two of them are stories he had really wanted to write for a while but could never find the time in his existing writing and travel schedule.

Screen shot of cover art mockup from the Kickstarter page

After I read Scalzi’s piece, I watched the introductory video. Then I went and found the first livestream related to the project. I signed up for the newsletter so that I could get the first chapters of each book. The subsequent livestreams have included input from other members of the team, and they and Sanderson answer questions from the audience. Even without having read any of his previous books or knowing anything about this Cosmere universe he has created, I don’t feel lost. I am discovering a whole new world, and I am loving it.

The thing is that he has been providing this kind of information for a while, unbeknownst to me because I wasn’t paying any attention. I know that he is by no means the only author to provide this kind of content, but he knows his audience really well (and his critics, too, based on some things he has said). His YouTube channel has a wealth of information about his process, writing advice, where to start with his books depending on what kind of a reader you are, and more. It’s impressive.

Has it convinced me to back the Kickstarter? Not yet. But I am definitely enjoying watching the project’s progress.

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