By Gigi Rosenberg
When artist Jackie Battenfield decided she wanted to write a book, she did what many authors don't do: She made a budget for how much the book was going to cost her to write.
The idea for the book, The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love, was born out of the professional development workshops she taught for artists. "Writing a book was the last thing I wanted to do," she said recently from her home base in Brooklyn, New York, but her students' enthusiasm for her handouts egged her on.
"My students kept telling me they used my handouts over and over again," she said. As she developed her idea for the book, she began to feel a mission to reach a larger audience with information about how to succeed as an artist.
She realized that writing a book was a big undertaking and the project would take her away from her own art studio and the work that earned her money. So she sat down and asked: "What would it really cost me to write this book? What kind of resources did I need?"
She wanted a book filled with images. She wanted a paid assistant, not an intern, and she wanted to pay herself. "I also needed editing help, somebody to check in with a couple of hours a week," she said.
Battenfield knew that if she looked at the actual numbers, she'd be likely to think more resourcefully about how to get her book published. So, she did a budget including everything she wanted "It was a lot of money," she said. "It was scary: $80,000."
Yet once she had the number, she wasn't paralyzed -- she was free. Free to be creative about how to earn the money to support her project. Before the book was even finished, she read portions of it at a fundraising dinner she hosted where guests paid $25 to support the writing of the book. She arranged to have the New York Foundation for the Arts act as her fiscal sponsor, which made her eligible for more types of grants. She researched what foundations were interested in supporting a project on the subject of arts education.
In the end, she raised $50,000 mostly from two foundations: The Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.
Here are her tips for authors who want funding to support a book project:
Take time out to do research. Ask: What are the compelling aspects of the subject matter? Who funds work like this? Who is interested in this subject matter?
Look at other artist resumes, especially writers in your genre or field and find out where they got their funding.
Don't be afraid to call the funder to discuss your project and ask if they might be interested in a project like yours.
Lastly, she recommends figuring out what you need to write the book. It may be a residency where you are granted the time and the space to write.
Jackie Battenfield can be reached at www.jackiebattenfield.com
Gigi Rosenberg's essays and how-to articles have appeared in the Seal Press anthology The Maternal is Political, Parenting, Writer's Digest, The Writer and on Oregon Public Radio. She receives rave reviews for the grant writing workshops she leads at NYC's Foundation Center and Chicago's Self Employment in the Arts. She has performed her monologues throughout the Pacific Northwest and now coaches writers how to give stellar public readings and write winning grant applications.