Part One: Leatherbounds and Survey Time!
This year, we’re releasing the Warbreaker leatherbound! This book is particularly gorgeous; we’ve added a few features such as illustrated drop caps and interstitial art. We put these volumes together in-house, rather than farming them out to someone else, and we pour a lot of attention into making them great. Next year is a big year for us, as we’ve reached the tenth anniversary of The Way of Kings, and will be releasing a leatherbound of that book.
Now, some of you might be wondering, “Brandon, isn’t The Way of Kings double the size of the previous books you’ve done as leatherbounds?” Yes. Yes, it is. That’s meant a lot of extra work on the part of my team, who have already been working on it for a good eight months. We want this book to be something extra special—and because of that, we’ve wanted to do preorder incentives (like goodies and swag) to go with it.
The logistics of doing this worried us a lot, however, as we’re still a relatively small team. Beyond that, we expect The Way of Kings leatherbound demand to strain our logistics and shipping departments. When talking about this with Howard Tayler, my cartoonist friend, he suggested we use Kickstarter to alleviate these problems. I was hesitant at first, as I know Kickstarter is mostly intended for people who need extra up-front money in order to create a product. We’ve been able to fund the leatherbounds ourselves so far, and we’re certain we can create these without needing extra time.
However, Howard really sold me on Kickstarter by pointing out how great the site’s management tools are for creators. If I want to offer different packages for the book, with a variety of preorder items personalized to customer preferences, the only way I’d be able to manage this is to take advantage of Kickstarter’s infrastructure and tools. As we’ve looked into the process, my team and I have come to agree that this is the only way we’d be able to do what we want to with The Way of Kings leatherbound.
So, while I know some of you might be skeptical about this like I was, I ask you to give us a chance to show why it will be a good thing. Our goal will not be to move to Kickstarter for all leatherbounds, only Stormlight leatherbounds every three years—because the added size, complexity, and logistics of such a large book require us to have some extra help. We plan to launch The Way of Kings as a Kickstarter in the summer of 2020, probably June or July. The book will likely come in two volumes, and will have to be around double the cost of our previous leatherbounds. (So, $200 to $250 instead of $100.) I thought it only fair to warn you all up front. Plus, if we hear concerns from the community that we haven’t considered, announcing it this early will help us deal with those before the actual campaign.
To that end, I have a little mini FAQ dealing with issues I think you might have.
Q: You are doing the Kickstarter in the summer. When will the books be sent out?
The goal will be to start sending these out as soon as possible, hopefully months before the holidays arrive. We are going to put our order in as soon as we can for the books themselves, and get the incentives constructed ASAP. Ideally, we’ll send you a single box with book and rewards all together in one cool bundle.
There will be some digital rewards offered as well. These will be sent out the moment the campaign closes, and will hopefully tide you over until the physical products arrive.
Q: Will this leatherbound be available on your store later, like the others?
Yes, it will. If you miss the campaign, you’ll still be able to buy the book.
Some things might not be available in the later printing, however, depending on what incentives we offer for the Kickstarter. For example, we will possibly offer a slipcase as part of the Kickstarter incentives—but (depending on the size of future print runs) we might not be able to offer that with the later editions we sell in the store. In short, the book will totally be there for you to buy later—but any stretch goal achievements and swag associated with the Kickstarter would have to come from that campaign. (With one exception mentioned below.)
Q: I like supporting my local independent bookseller. Will any stores be getting this book like they have other leatherbounds you’ve done?
I haven’t cleared this with any of the stores yet, so I don’t want to speak for them. However, we love our bookstores, and have tried from the get-go to involve them in our leatherbound distribution. Our goal will be to set aside a certain number of books as requested by the booksellers we work with frequently. (And if you’re a bookseller who has had me in your store for a signing in the past, and you would like to be selling these leatherbounds too, make sure to contact us.)
My goal will be to add all bookseller orders into the final count from the Kickstarter, and order an equivalent number of physical reward objects for them to include with their books. So these bookstore editions should include all unlocked stretch goal rewards in the boxes we send for them to sell. They might not be personalized to your preferences (e.g. you might receive a random order of Knights Radiant, based on the box you get), but we hope this will work so that readers who prefer to buy from the booksellers do not feel left out.
The short version is this: if you miss the Kickstarter, there’s a good chance that a limited number of boxes with full rewards included will be available at retailers, for the same price people paid in the Kickstarter. Those stores should be similar to the ones that have been carrying our leatherbounds so far.
Q: Leatherbounds are expensive. Will I be able to participate if I’m not interested in such a high ticket item?
My plan is to write a Stormlight (or at least Cosmere) novella next spring to offer as part of the Kickstarter campaign. We’re anticipating some lower tiers that involve getting digital-only rewards and a digital copy of the novella—all for a very reasonable price. We will likely also offer just the novella in print form, along with all campaign rewards, as another slightly higher (but still well below $200) tier that you can buy into as well. (And, of course, a tier that has everything—including the leatherbound and a print copy of the novella.)
Q: So…a novella you say. Anything else you can tell us about the rewards?
We haven’t settled on anything yet. I haven’t even written the novella, so it’s possible that won’t even happen. However, it’s likely that we’ll be letting you choose an order of Knights Radiant (and we’ll post full descriptions of all ten orders, including information not yet in the books) and receive rewards based on your preference (i.e. physical rewards with that order’s symbols on them).
There’s also a decent chance I’ll offer an ebook of The Way of Kings Prime (the version I wrote of the book back in 2002 that is way different from the 2010 version) as a stretch goal unlock. This would be sent to everyone who participates in the campaign at any level.
Okay, if you’re still with me after that (we’re over a thousand words into this SotS already, and I haven’t even really started yet), let’s talk about the survey. After The Way of Kings, the next book to hit its ten-year anniversary is The Alloy of Law. Instead of being a lot larger than the average Sanderson book, AoL is half the size. We aren’t allowed by Tor to sell our leatherbounds for less than $100, and the logistics of printing them kind of preclude that anyway.
However, I thought that perhaps you all would like to get The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self bundled together as a single leatherbound. I figured if we have to charge double for a double-sized stormlight book, shouldn’t we charge half for a half-sized mistborn book? This would require binding the two books together though.
Assistant Adam, who is a leatherbound connoisseur, mentioned that some people might not like this—he thought the leatherbound collectors he knows would just prefer to have the individual books, separate as they’re sold in stores, for their collection. So, we thought we’d ask you.
Finally, a couple of questions for those of you who attend my book signings. I’m having some growing pains in this department. My signings, put flatly, are just getting too long for me to handle. The last Stormlight tour wore me out, with each signing lasting until 1 or 2 a.m., with signs that they were going to grow even larger. I need to do something to either speed up the lines, or make the signings easier.
Fortunately, I have some guides in this department. I’m fortunate enough to be approaching crowds similar to the ones GRRM or Neil Gaiman get, and talking to people like them, I’ve found that there are two approaches authors generally use. Neil, for example, will pre-sign all the books. You don’t get to meet him personally at a signing, but instead you get a signed book—and then he does an extra-long presentation, with much longer readings, Q&As, and speeches than I do. In short, it becomes “an evening with Neil” instead of a book signing. Other authors (I know George has done this) still sign all the books, but don’t do a presentation at all, and don’t allow personalizations or pictures.
I’m curious what all of you think. My own inclination is a hybrid of my current method and Neil’s method—where I do a longer presentation like Neil does, perhaps bringing Isaac to do a presentation on artwork too. Then have a lottery (which is not based on your ability to buy a more expensive ticket, and is instead completely random) for a hundred people to come meet me afterward and get a book personalized.
If you’re interested, I’d enjoy you answering some questions about this too. (Note that none of these apply to release parties, which will continue to be the insane and enormous extravaganzas you’ve come to expect.)
Okay, whew. Thanks for sticking through all of that for me. But we spend a lot of time on the leatherbounds, and want to make sure we’re creating them the way you want. Now, on to the regular State of the Sanderson.