Brandon Sanderson’s Exceptional Kickstarter

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All any aspiring fantasy writer is talking about now is Brandon Sanderson’s wildly successful Kickstarter for his Secret Novels, scheduled to arrive in supporters’ inboxes in 2023. I have to admit that even I am a little jealous of his success

First, I think we should take notes not by whether or not we like Sanderson or his writing, or how much money he is receiving (his company Dragonsteel Entertainment is after the fees and business expenses), or put ourselves in the mindset that we cannot replicate his success because we are not Brandon Sanderson. Obviously, there are established writers who can’t do it, and probably we probably can’t replicate his success to that degree. 

As writers we should look at his business and marketing strategies objectively to see why it was a success and what we can take away from it.  

1. Content is King:  Sanderson not only produces books regularly but also podcasts with other writers and is now a YouTuber. He is creating educational content and also posts movie and show reviews that will drive traffic from people who would never have followed him otherwise. By collaborating with other writers, he also grows his own following as other fandoms discover him. It also works vice versa. 

2. Social Media: Sanderson and his team figured out what works on social. He effectively trolled everyone by posting a “need to come clean” sad video, driving up interest, and then turning what many though was a sad video into an emotional high. Call it clickbait but it works. He also is very active on reddit and constantly communicates with his fans to create superfans. He and his team also connected with booktubers to set up the announcement after spending considerable time making connections with them (ie Daniel Greene). Spend time learning how to use social media and build your platform.

3.  Established trust: by producing content and following through on his promises to create good content over the past 15 or so years his fandom has come to trust him. They trust that he will fulfill his promises for content and to fulfill the Kickstarter rewards.

4. Start Small: Sanderson used a smaller project to test the capabilities of his team. Kickstarter and other funded projects are logistically challenging not only to create the content, but to fulfill it. Writers who have little experience in printing, shipping, Excel or CRM list management and project fulfillment should brush up on those skills or add people to their teams who can do it. Crowd-funded projects that are not fulfilled will likely not be funded for the next one.

5. Connections: Don’t work in a creative vacuum—word-of-mouth campaigns and social media are not successful without creating meaningful connections. This is true in the working world, and it certainly is in the creative world. By supporting other writers in your circle, you too will benefit when you help them become successful.

We too can start small and work our way up using the same techniques if we want to replicate even a portion of his success.

Patreon For New Writers

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My Experience

I’m a writer with a day job, and my work experience covers digital marketing for small businesses/non-profits and database and gift management for non-profit organizations. That’s just a fancy way of saying that I help maintain an accurate constituent database and update their Facebook pages.

In fall 2015 I created a Patreon page out of curiosity. As a fundraising platform, it was still a new-fangled thing, and I was curious. My creator page did not actually go live with a proper “hard” campaign until January 2017, as several personal things affected my launch. After a soft and hard launch my pledges have stabilized, which allows me to pursue more creative projects I haven’t been able to do before! Continue reading

Servant of the Lesser Good – A Feyrlands Novel

Epic fantasy author Shaun Paul Stevens returns to the Feyrlands through the eyes of Mist, one of the main characters from Nether Light, in this short but fast-paced prequel book. This short novel focuses on Mist, a shadowy character who is directed to assassinate the High Mistress Talia, a beautiful but talented harpist set to marry the Count of Brecht. While Nether Light sets the stage for the future of magic, of the Faze, in the Ferylands, Servant of the Lesser Good narrows to show life in the Ferylands through the eyes of Mist, and hints of political scheming that may or may not affect the future of Sendal.

Although Faze is less prominent in this book compared to Nether Light, it is still clear that it is a magic that infuses every aspect of Feryland life. As Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep hints at the brimming chaos of the Unbound (who are not “vaccinated” against the effects of a creeping pandemic that causes madness) and Nether Light delves into the magic users of the world, Servant of the Lesser Good takes a closer look at the politics and gender in the Feyrlands. Although the three books are separate and can be read independently together the three paint a picture of a looming disaster with the Faze and the world it infuses.

Servant of the Lesser Good is a fast-paced and yet intriguing look into the Ferylands through the eyes of two powerful women, a wonderfully refreshing story that ends with a crescendo of musical magic. Mist is undoubtedly one of the livelier characters from the sometimes very glum Guyen of Nether Light. Whereas Guyen strives to find his place in an unfriendly nation distrustful of anyone with Krellan ancestry, Mist knows her place in this world. She is confident and knows exactly what she needs to complete her mission.

The strong female characters contrasts sharply with the grizzled old Kiprick of Deliverance and the stereotypical young male hero Guyen of Nether Light. Mist and Talia are unafraid to embrace their sex, using it as a both a weapon and a means to fulfill their motives. The relationship between Mist and the High Mistress Talia brims with a delicious sexual tension that reeks of the power plays that politicians in this world, a relationship I thoroughly enjoyed as the tension came to a crescendo.

The 18th century Flintlock vibe rings true with duels and powdered wigs that I love so much and demand more of. Although neither Mist nor Talia are magic users there exists an almost Industrialist influence to a magic that suffuses the world. Magic and machine co-exist, a delightful change from most epic fantasy that tends to draw from Medieval culture and technology. Although I would have preferred a bit more magic and explanation of the Faze that was introduced in Nether Light I found this short book to be a quick fun read that kept my attention.  

Anyone who enjoys reading Flintlock fantasy novels such as the Powermage Trilogy by Brian McClellan and the Thieftaker novels by D.B Jackson will surely enjoy Servant of the Lesser Good by Shaun Paul Stevens. I’ll take more Flintlock fantasy with a cup of tea and a sniff of gunpowder, thank you very much.

Servant of the Lesser Good is the latest book by SPFBO finalist Shaun Paul Stevens. Set in his Feyrlands universe, this standalone story follows the deadly but delightful Mist (one of the main characters in Nether Light) in her covert mission to avert civil war by destroying an alliance between two of Sendal’s most powerful southern duchies.

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Patreon for Writers: Collaborate and Publish

You Did It!

Congratulations, you’ve officially launched your Patreon page! By preparing your launch you’ve set yourself up better than the majority of creators.  You launched your page, but so what? Launching your page alone won’t get you donations. According to Kickstarter, the first 24 hours of a campaign are the most important. With your lists in place, your emails scheduled, your social media shoutouts posted, you will have an initial surge of donations before they taper off. Here are three ongoing tasks that will always be a part of your fundraising efforts:

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You, Me and Gift Management

But wait a minute, I’m a writer, what do I have anything to do with gift management?? Doesn’t Patreon do that for me? And what exactly is “gift management”?

Patreon has the tools for relationship management and will be your gift processor, but the majority of gift management will fall to you.

I am a former professional Gifts Administrator. While I’m not moonlighting as a fledging Flintlock Fantasy Writer or spending too much time on social media, I spend my day processing checks, cash, stock, wires, and matching gifts for non-profits. Understanding where your money comes from, how to process it, and how to acknowledge those gifts can mean the success or failure of a Campaign.

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