State of the Sanderson 2019
Welcome, everyone, to our final State of the Sanderson for the decade! If you’re not familiar with these posts, each December I take a look back at my year and talk about the projects I’ve been working on. Then I turn an eye to the future to see where I’m planning for things to go in the coming years. If you’d like to see last year’s State of the Sanderson, you can find it at this handy link.
This year was dedicated primarily to writing Stormlight Book Four; I’ll have a specific update on that for you in a little bit. I also spent a lot of time traveling, particularly to Europe—to the point that I’ve been feeling the weight of my travel. (Which indicates it’s time to scale back for a while.)
Stormlight years always have a little less variety than “off” years where I work on a more eclectic mix of stories. So while I got a ton done, there won’t be much in the way of updates on other projects. One thing I wanted to add this year, however, is a little survey—mostly about our leatherbound books. So if you’d do me a favor and hop down to answer a couple of questions, that would help us a ton. I’ve put the survey at the bottom of the following section, which will dig into leatherbounds in depth. This section is a tad long, which will come as no surprise since I wrote it. So if you’re not interested, you might want to meet me back at Part Two.
- Part One: Leatherbounds and Survey Time!
- Part Two: My Year
- Part Three: Updates on Major Projects
- Part Four: Updates on Secondary Projects
- Part Five: Updates on Minor Projects
- Part Six: Film/Television Updates
- Part Seven: Other Cool Projects
- Part Eight: Projected Schedule
- Part Nine: Bonus Section, the Future of the Cosmere
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. The survey below is getting at this idea. The questions are very simple, so feel free to look them over before taking it.
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.
Part Two: My Year
January–March: Starsight Revisions
My goal had been to launch straight into Stormlight Four in January, but I didn’t quite make it. We thought we had the book wrapped up by February, but some of the beta reader comments set me thinking about several problems with Starsight—and I made the tough call to do another round of revisions on the book to make it as good as it could be. This put me about a month behind; I’d built in a buffer, but had really wanted to start on Stormlight Four in February. (I even had a trip to Hawaii planned to kick it off—as nothing is better than writing on the beach. Alas, though I got a tad of Stormlight done on that trip, I spent most of it on Starsight.)
But the revisions worked, and the book finally clicked into place. Judging from the reader responses, it feels like that extra month really paid some dividends, so I’m glad I did it.
April: Stormlight 4
The real work on Stormlight 4 started in April, where I launched into Part One. Writing went pretty good from the get-go, as I’m always kind of working on Stormlight outlines—even when I’m writing other books. So I can often hit the ground running. Stormlight books literally have two decades of planning behind them.
May: Europe Trip One (Germany)
This trip was a lot of fun—and Art Director Isaac went with me, as he speaks German. The fans were enthusiastic, and the tour was a huge success. But it did also slow me down a ton. Not much written this month.
June: Stormlight 4
I got back into it, eventually managing to catch up all the lost time from Germany. (Though I was still about a month behind because of the Starsight revision.) I might have caught all the way up, except…
July: Europe Trip Two (Spain/France/Belgium)
Another big trip through Europe, though about half of this one was vacation rather than work. My father was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France and Belgium when he was in his twenties. Now that he’s retired, we wanted to take him back to show us around. Spain was a work trip for me (one of my favorite SF/F conventions is in Spain, and I love going there).
August–September: Stormlight 4
I jumped back into it, and despite a little detour at Dragon Con in September (the hotel room they gave me was amazing—check out my view above!). I managed to catch all the way back up on lost time, and then on October 9th caught up (finally) from the lost month in March, putting me 100% on track to finish the book by January 1st. But then on October 11th, I flew back out on tour…
October: Israel, Europe Trip Three (France, the Czech Republic)
I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, and locked in about two years ago to be a guest at a convention in Tel Aviv. The trip was great, really special—and was followed by the utterly cool chance to go visit the Wheel of Time television show set in Prague. So while I had a great time, it was a little hard to admit it put me behind again by a month.
Here are some photos from my tours and conventions!
November, December: Stormlight 4
I’ve finally caught up again as of last week, and am making the final push to finish the novel. It’s been touch-and-go all year, but I’m confident now that the book will be finished by January, which is why I let Tor announce a release date. (See below.)
All in all, it was a great year—despite being a bit frantic and putting me on way too many airplanes. (The odd part is that after all of this touring, I have a ton of frequent flyer miles—but I’m often too tired of travel to use them, so my family/assistants end up using them for trips.) At the same time, I really do love working on Stormlight books. One of the reasons I take such a long break between them is to make certain that when I come back to Roshar, I’m refreshed and eager to get back to it. And speaking of that…
Part Three: Updates on Major Projects
The Stormlight Archive
Book Four has a release date next year on November 17th. I allowed Tor to set this because I’m confident that we’ll meet it—so we should be in good shape for that release, barring some catastrophic responses that I haven’t anticipated during alpha/beta reads. The tentative title for the book is still Rhythm of War, but because of the way Stormlight books work (where each book title is an in-world book title as well), I can’t 100% say that will be the title in this case until the book is finished.
When Book Four is done, we’ll have only one more book in the first Stormlight sequence. As I’ve been saying for years, Book Five is one of the major end points of the series. I anticipate writing that in 2022, for a 2023 release. Yes, I know, many of you wish those gaps were shorter. It’s turned out that a three-year gap is best for my writing psychology, so we’re going to stick with that for now. And, since they’re each as long as four regular books, it’s like getting a Stormlight book faster than one per year—except you have to save them up to read in batches.
STATUS: All systems go!
I had hoped to squeeze in Wax and Wayne Four this year, but falling behind a month (plus the aggressive tour schedule) made that impossible. I sometimes forget just how much touring takes out of me—which is partly why there wasn’t a Starsight tour. (And partly why I put that question in the survey about how to make book tours a little less exhausting.)
I consider Wax and Wayne’s final book to be imperative to finish before I start Stormlight Five. Starting in July, once Stormlight Four is fully revised and turned in, I’ll have two main projects demanding my attention. Wax and Wayne four is one of those, Skyward is the other. (I might need to get to Skyward Three before it, FYI, depending on how much Stormlight burns me out on epic fantasy. But both Skyward Three and Wax and Wayne Four should be finished by the end of the year next year.)
After that, it will be time for me to be looking to Era Three of Mistborn—which will be written in the years between Stormlight Five and Stormlight Six.
STATUS: Wayne is threatening to beat me up if I don’t get to this soon. 2021 or maybe 2022 release for the final book.
Book Two is out, if you somehow missed that fact. I’d like to say thank you to everyone for indulging me so much on my side projects. Starsight was a huge success, even without me touring for it. These books are really fun to write, and good for my writing as they allow me to relax between big Cosmere projects. The fact that all of you are willing to embrace and read them is quite gratifying. One of my biggest fears becoming an author was that I’d get locked into doing only one thing, then get burned out on it.
As you can see from the last 15 years of my publishing career, I am interested in a lot of different things. The fact that you’ve been willing to read about Spin, Jerkface, and Doomslug as readily as you do about Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shallan is wonderful to see. Thank you so much for making this new series a success.
STATUS: Should write Book Three sometime late next year. 2021 release is likely.
Part Four: Updates on Secondary Projects
We’re moving ahead with the graphic novel on this, and giving you some glimpses of that is one of the big things I’m happy to announce for this State of the Sanderson. We’ve included some gorgeous pages below. The graphic novel is turning out to be something really special. We don’t have an exact release date for this yet, but it shouldn’t be too much longer before we can announce one.
In addition, many of you may have heard the news that J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon Five, among many other cool projects) is attached to this project to make a television show. The same outline I came up with for the graphic novel drew serious Hollywood attention, which is how this happened. That said, JMS has other projects he’s working on as well, and Dark One needs to wait for the right time for him to work on it.
STATUS: Real motion here. Exciting developments in the process!
Songs of the Dead (Was Death by Pizza)
This perpetual entry in the State of the Sanderson is creeping ever closer to being a reality. My co-author, Peter Orullian, has suggested the title Songs of the Dead—which is a really great title, considering it’s about a heavy metal singer necromancer.
We’ve got a second draft done, but it needs a third one. Unfortunately, the hangup is me, as Stormlight has taken basically all my time this year. Peter sent me his latest draft in June or so, and I’m only halfway through my revision of it at this point. So I’m sorry it’s taking so long; I’m excited for you all to read the book, but as it’s my first true book collaboration, there are some growing pains as we figure out how to make the process work right for us.
Hopefully I can finish my next revision early next year, send it back to Peter for one final draft, then begin showing it to editors.
STATUS: Waiting on my next revision.
This novella that I wrote with the fantastic Mary Robinette Kowal is finished and being recorded as an audio original. It should come out very soon, and I’m quite proud of it.
I’m a little annoyed as the Will Smith movie that came out earlier this year has a similar premise. But that movie bombed and apparently wasn’t very good. So maybe people will appreciate a similar idea done right? We’ll see. I had hoped to get this out before Mr. Smith’s movie came out, but Mary Robinette was busy winning all of the awards for her excellent Lady Astronaut series, and I was busy getting rained on in Roshar.
STATUS: Out soon.
This one is mostly done, just needing a few little tweaks. Again, I haven’t had a ton of time last year, but this one is looking really good. It’s basically all complete, only needing one last pass. We should be doing the interior artwork and editorial work next year.
STATUS: Basically done.
Elantris, Warbreaker, The Rithmatist
No updates from last year, I’m afraid. There was no intention to make progress on these this year. Once Alcatraz is wrapped up, I’ll turn my attention back to The Rithmatist as the last looming series that needs a wrapup that hasn’t gotten one. Elantris and Warbreaker sequels aren’t to be expected until Stormlight Five and Wax and Wayne Four are done.
I know a lot of you keep waiting on Rithmatist news, and I feel bad having to give you the same news every year. (Yes, that paragraph above is the same one I put in the State of the Sanderson last year.) But the truth is, I really can’t work on this until at the very least Alcatraz is finished.
A glimmer of light for you Rithmatist fans is this: my son just read the book, and he’s joined the crowd calling for me to do a sequel. So you have an in-house representative.
STATUS: Keep Waiting. (Sorry again, again.)
Graphic novel three is out now! So if you haven’t picked it up, please check it out!
We’ve learned a lot doing our first graphic novel series. Again, there were some growing pains. (We aren’t thrilled, for example, by how often we ended up needing to change artists.) The good news is that we really enjoy doing these, and so we are planning to do another graphic novel series set on Taldain, visiting darkside and dealing with Khriss and her adventures there. So if you are one of those people who read the prose version years ago, and have been waiting for some resolution, Isaac and I are outlining a sequel series right now.
STATUS: Trilogy complete, likely to do a collection of all three in coming years. Sequel series being outlined.
Part Five: Updates on Minor Projects
For many of these little projects, you may want to glance back at previous State of the Sanderson documents to see what they even are, as this is pretty long already and I don’t want to keep making the same pitch every year. So really, take note if a specific idea interested you, but don’t worry if you’re confused and you don’t get many details here on these.
The Reckoners, Legion
Both are completed. Though I’ve had enough people asking after them that we’re toying with doing some audio-original novellas set in these worlds. For example, one of my big goals for Legion was to get it made into a television series. While that could still happen, as it’s under option by a production company, I’ve been thinking that maybe I could do something like that on my own—as an audio series. We could create a sequence of episodes written by a writer’s room with me as the “showrunner.” I could see doing something like this with the Reckoners to continue that story, for those who want to know what happens next.
If we can get these off the ground, I’ll let you know. Also, if you like The Original, please let me know—as that will influence me in doing similar projects with Legion and the Reckoners.
STATUS: Completed, but cool things could still happen.
No change from last year. This space opera series of novellas is in limbo until I find the right time to work on them. It will happen eventually.
STATUS: No movement.
Something’s happening here, but it’s hush-hush for now.
The Apocalypse Guard
Well, this book got weirder—as expected with Dan and me working together on something. It’s moved to the back burner, as even Dan’s revision wasn’t enough to get it where we want it to be. So this one is entering limbo for now.
STATUS: No motion for months now, might be dead.
Untitled Threnody Novel, Sixth of the Dusk sequel, another story with Shai, and The Silence Divine persist as “maybe” stories that someday I might write. They are joined by a Secret Standalone Cosmere Book, that wacky YA Cosmere Book with Magic Kites, Untitled First of the Sun YA novel (not involving Sixth), and a few others as Cosmere novels that might someday make it to the front burner. (Once Skyward is done, I think it would be good to do a YA book in the Cosmere, so I’ve begun working on possible ideas.) Aether of Night also is still hanging around, maybe needing a novel. So we’ll see. I’ll talk a little more about the Cosmere in a future section, after we get to the film stuff.
If I write a novella to go with the Stormlight Kickstarter, it has about an equal chance of being Wandersail (a Rysn novella), Horneater (a Rock novella), or a sequel to Sixth of the Dusk (which is tricky because it reveals maybe a little too much about Space Age Cosmere politics).
Part Six: Film/Television
Note: read last year’s State of the Sanderson for more talk on what it takes to make a film or television show out of a novel. However, the biggest news here is that I’ve decided to try taking a more active role in getting some of these made. To that end, I’ve most specifically been working closer with Dan Mintz, the producer who is trying to get some Cosmere things made. See below.
New screenplay has been written, and is being shopped to directors right now, so far as I know. Still under option by MGM, and looking good—but no real updates.
I’ve offered Dan Mintz to do treatments for this myself, and he’s been very amenable. He and I have been working more closely together lately to see if we can make this happen.
Option lapsed at Fox just last month. This wasn’t surprising, as after the Fox/Disney merger, there wasn’t much of a chance that Disney would greenlight a non-Marvel superhero project. Instead of immediately going out to shop this again though, I’m taking a few months to consider how I want to approach film and television.
Still under option to Cineflix Media. No updates lately.
Deal is in the works, but can’t talk about it yet.
Likewise, deal is in the works, but can’t talk about it yet.
Working on this with JMS, which has been super cool.
Considering maybe writing the screenplay on this myself. After speaking with Dan Mintz, we decided he would focus on spearheading Stormlight, and I would focus on spearheading Mistborn. So we’ll see what I decide to do.
Part Seven: Other Cool Projects
Stormlight Children’s Book
A publisher Isaac has worked with doing picture books asked if maybe we could do an adaptation of “the girl who looked up” story that Shallan and Wit tell in Oathbringer. We thought this was a pretty cool idea, and so Isaac is working on the adaptation. If we do this right, it could come out around the same time as Book Four.
Brotherwise Call to Adventure Board Game
This summer, Brotherwise Games will release Call to Adventure: The Stormlight Archive. Originally planned as an expansion for the board game Call to Adventure, it has grown into a full standalone game with 120 cards and everything you need to play. Call to Adventure is a hero-crafting game that combines strategy and storytelling. It’s similar to some “tableau-building” games where you’re creating a kingdom or civilization, but in this game you’re building a character. Each player begins with cards that define your hero’s origin, motivation, and destiny. Over the course of the game, you overcome challenges and gain traits. It’s a game with points and a clear winner, but the highlight of every game is telling your hero’s story at the end.
The guys at Brotherwise are huge fans, and they’ve worked closely with us to make sure the Stormlight Archive game is true to the books. It emphasizes cooperative play as players become Radiants and face Odium, but it’s possible to choose a villainous path and work against the team. The cards are all inspired by familiar scenes and themes, and in Call to Adventure you’re piecing together those moments to tell new stories. Here’s a sneak peek at illustrations for some of the cards: Choose A Side (Ganna Pazyniuk), Herald of Justice (Petar Penev), Face the Unmade(Artem Demura), Leader (Ari Ibarra), Elsecaller (Randy Vargas), and One More Try (Artem Demura). Expect more news on the game closer to its release date in summer 2020!
Crafty Games Dice Kickstarter
If you’re reading this when it comes out, know that you’ve only got a few hours left to get in on the Mistborn dice Kickstarter (and help them try to meet their final stretch goal). This should be the last Kickstarter we do for anything until we reach the Stormlight one in the summer.
Crafty has been doing great work on the RPG front, and have been an excellent partner. If you’re at all interested in dice, have a look at their Kickstarter. I’m really looking forward to getting mine!
Part Eight: Projected Schedule of Releases
- The Original audio novella: 2020
- Stormlight Four: Fall 2020
- Skyward Three: Summer(?) 2021
- Wax and Wayne Four: Fall(?) 2021
- Alcatraz 6: 2021–2022
- Dark One Graphic Novel: 2021–2022
- Skyward Four (final book): 2022
- Stormlight Five: Fall 2023
Part Nine: Bonus Section, The Future of the Cosmere
One thing you might have noticed in the secondary projects section is that I have a number of collaborations in the works. This is partially because I wanted the chance to work with some of my friends on books, which is a fun and different way to write. But it’s also because I’ve begun to realize that I need to keep more of my focus on the Cosmere.
That isn’t to say I’m not going to write anything that isn’t Cosmere moving forward. (Skyward proves that.) At the same time, these State of the Sanderson posts come out on my birthday each year—and as I age, I’m growing more aware that I won’t be able to write all the books I want to. I’m still relatively young, and relatively fast as a writer.
Let me explain. Back in my 30s, I generally didn’t worry that I wouldn’t be able to finish things I started—that wasn’t even something that occurred to me. I just wrote whatever I wanted at the time I wanted to write it. Now I’m in my 40s, and I’ve realized that the Cosmere is also a big project. Back in the summer of 2007—before I even had kids and before the Wheel of Time came my way—I first sat down and asked myself, “How big is the Cosmere?” I came up with an outline of between 32 and 36 books. That seemed like an easy task. At two books a year, that would barely be fifteen years out of my (hopefully) very long career.
But I was somewhat naive then about a number of things. I didn’t realize just how much effort Stormlight books would take to write. I didn’t realize how much time touring would eat out of my schedule as I grew more popular. I didn’t realize how many other things might take my attention, like doing films.
A few years after that 2007 outline, I realized that I needed to start writing some of my side projects as novellas, rather than novel series with promised sequels. (Things like The Emperor’s Soul and Sixth of the Dusk grew out of that realization.) Lately, I’ve begun asking myself on some of my ideas, “Could I do this as a collaboration? As an audio original or graphic novel?” These are other ways to tell my stories, but to do so in a manner that takes less of my direct time. You’re all going to have to tell me if you like the products of this effort. I can’t stop doing side projects; as I’ve said many times, this is how I prevent myself from burning out. But maybe I can make the deviations I take to do those side projects a little less time-consuming.
For what it’s worth, here is what I have as the current Cosmere sequence, not counting potential YA books or the occasional novella. Finished books are in bold. This isn’t an exact chronology of when I’ll write them either.
- Elantris 1
- Elantris 2
- Elantris 3
- Mistborn Era 1: Book One
- Mistborn Era 1: Book Two
- Mistborn Era 1: Book Three
- Stormlight One
- Stormlight Two
- Stormlight Three
- Stormlight Four
- Stormlight Five
- Mistborn Era 2: Book One
- Mistborn Era 2: Book Two
- Mistborn Era 2: Book Three
- Mistborn Era 2: Book Four
- Warbreaker 1
- Warbreaker 2
- Mistborn Era 3: Book One
- Mistborn Era 3: Book Two
- Mistborn Era 3: Book Three
- Stormlight Six
- Stormlight Seven
- Stormlight Eight
- Stormlight Nine
- Stormlight Ten
- Dragonsteel Book One
- Dragonsteel Book Two
- Dragonsteel Book Three
- Untitled Threnody Novel
- Untitled Aether Book One
- Untitled Aether Book Two
- Untitled Aether Book Three
- Mistborn Era 4: Book One
- Mistborn Era 4: Book Two
- Mistborn Era 4: Book Three
That’s thirty-five novels. The original outline I made in 2007 had a maximum of thirty-six, but was a little different. For example, I had Dragonsteel in my mind as seven books back then—but as I progressed through the Cosmere I quickly realized that I was offloading a lot of that story to Stormlight. (Bridge Four, remember, started on Yolen—the Dragonsteel world. So did Dalinar, actually.)
I’ve shrunk Dragonsteel to a trilogy as I focused on what I wanted it to be: a compelling story about Hoid and his origins. (Along with the shattering of Adonalsium.) That snapped Dragonsteel into place in the Cosmere quite nicely. This is why I’m still at around the same number of mainline novels even after adding the Wax and Wayne books.
The original outline didn’t name the Threnody novel as such; that slot was filled by a standalone where I planned to do some of the things I’ll now accomplish. In the original outline I had White Sand, but that became a graphic novel series. This, plus my uncertainty at the start if there would be other standalone novels, indicates why I had a 32–36-book series in mind at the start, but now have 35 “mainline” Cosmere books. (Another point I’ve wavered on is where Aether fits into this.)
That makes eleven books in the Cosmere finished in the last 15 years, less than a third of the full Cosmere sequence. This means, at this speed, I’ve got at least another thirty years of writing to do—putting me optimistically at age seventy-four when I finish. (Assuming I don’t add anything else, like a Mistborn cyberpunk between eras three and four—or a standalone or two, which I’d really like to be doing more.)
So, perhaps you can see why I feel a need to start focusing a little more attention on the Cosmere. I don’t want the years to slip away from me, and right now seems the time I need to be thinking about this—not when I hit sixty and realize I’ve been ignoring one series or another.
I write this out not to scare you. (Hopefully.) One of the reasons I divided it all up into separate sequences, even within the same series, is so that we’ll have endings and be able to “complete” series, rather than leaving you hanging forever, feeling like these things are going on too long. At the same time, the Cosmere is my life’s work—and from the get-go, I wanted it to be epic in every sense of the word.
I hope you are enjoying the journey, because I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.
Thank you all for another fantastic year.