Kick Start Your Dream: Turn Your Goal of Publishing a Book Into a Reality

How to Start a Kickstarter Campaign

Snowy Egret by Nance McManus

Snowy Egret (20×20) is one of the paintings Nance McManus published in her crowdfunded book, Pastel Passion: Birds.

Have you ever wanted to self-publish a book of your artwork or revamp part of your art business but lacked the funds to get started? A crowdfunding site such as Kickstarter could be the key to turning your goal into a reality. In her article “Kick Start Your Dream,” Deborah Secor explains how artist Nancy McManus achieved her self-publishing goal through Kickstarter. Check out the excerpt below to learn how to start a Kickstarter campaign yourself. You can find the complete crowdfunding article in the 2016 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market or on

Keep creating and good luck!


Kick Start Your Dream: Turn Your Goal of Publishing a Book Into a Reality by Deborah Secor

A few years ago, you may never have even heard of the term crowdfunding; now the word seems almost ubiquitous. The concept of crowdfunding is quite simple:

A crowd of people fund your project. And, when executed thoughtfully, it can work. In a truly democratic manner, online-fundraising websites provide the means for an entrepreneur to engage with people from all over the world. Open to all kinds of ventures, this approach to financing especially may appeal to a creative mind-set. However, like any innovative endeavor, success comes only with careful thought and planning, and an investment of time, rather than a seat-of-the-pants approach.

Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and other crowdfunding websites provide a platform through which an artist may present a project idea to the world. These sites offer guidelines and campaign approval, and typically deduct a single-digit percentage from the total funds collected, but individuals set their own financial goals. The results depend on how much the project appeals to people who view the campaign page and pledge to support the plan.

On some crowdfunding sites, projects are required to reach the funding goal to receive the money, while other sites allow the entrepreneur to receive any money raised, regardless of whether the funding goal is met. To attract sponsors, the campaign can offer rewards; for an art project, for example, it might be anything from a $1 bookmark to an original painting worth thousands. Both artist and backer benefit.

Funding Her Dream

For years Tijeras, New Mexico, pastelist Nance McManus had hoped to produce a limited, signed edition of a book containing her paintings and charcoal drawings of birds. “I always wanted the credibility of publishing a monograph representing my work,” she says, but due to the up-front investment needed, she put off the idea.

Intrigued with the possibility of crowdfunding the cost, McManus decided in 2012 to try a Kickstarter campaign. “I did three months of research before I actually started,” she explains. “I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that crowdfunding means ‘free money.’ They have no idea how hard it is to pull off. This kind of project takes hard work, organization and follow-through. For about five months, it absorbed a lot of my time.”

McManus’ Kickstarter campaign officially lasted 17 days, and the response from her collectors, friends and people from around the world stunned her. “It only took 22 hours to reach my original $4,000 goal, which was mind-boggling. I was impressed with how well it paid off,” she says, noting that she received pledges for a total of $5,176 from forty-seven backers.

Project Management

As in any fundraising effort, the planning is fundamental. The first step for McManus’ Kickstarter venture was locating a publisher for the book and determining her costs. “I wanted a United States printer who could do a hardbound book with proper binding, using a spine, not staples.” She decided on Bookmasters in Ashland, Ohio, and determined she could do her own design with layout and proofreading assistance from two friends. She asked a good friend, Stephen Bodio, to write the foreword.

Another vital campaign element was the written description that would introduce the concept, set her funding goal and offer incentive rewards to prospective backers. “I soaked up everything that Kickstarter had to offer in the way of advice and guidance, and looked at many projects that had failed as well as those that succeeded, to get ideas of funding levels and rewards,” McManus says. “It was hard to figure out how much money I needed, in part because it’s an international platform. I had to add some cushion that would cover the cost of possibly sending two hundred books to Europe, for instance.”

. . . .

Connecting With Backers

As a first-level reward for backers, McManus chose to offer anyone donating $25 a copy of the book with their names included on a thank-you page. There were several other reward levels that included posters and gicleé prints of various bird paintings. “I also offered three tiers of $1,000 each that included original paintings,” McManus says. “That was less than the paintings sold for in galleries, so my collectors jumped on them, which helped lend credibility to the project.”

. . . .

Enthused about the idea of the book from the beginning, McManus says the fact that she had actually succeeded in self-publishing a book finally sunk in one day as she signed the inside front cover of book one hundred. “This turned out to be just about the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she says with a smile, “but if you’re prepared to give it 110 percent and understand the need for commitment and organization, I highly recommend the process. It was very rewarding to use crowdfunding, and it’s even more rewarding to have the book in my hand.”

Deborah Secor ( is a columnist for Pastel Journal.

Excerpted from the February 2014 issue of Pastel Journal. Used with the kind permission of Pastel Journal, a publication of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company.


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