Blog / 2023 / Why I Need $9000 to Make a Coloring Book and Curriculum

October 4, 2023

Last month, I launched a crowdfunding campaign to turn my series of paintings about mental health into a coloring book and high school art curriculum, with the goal of garnering $9000 in pledges.

My logic for asking for that sum of money is:

  1. Though the paintings for Everything’s Fine are done, transforming them for this next phase of the project is still a lot of work.
  2. It will take me about seven hours to make each coloring book page, and there will be at least twenty. Plus there’s the layout of the book and all the back-and-forth with the printer to get it just so before I officially press the “publish” button in my print-on-demand book shop.

  3. The curriculum for the project is complicated to put together.
  4. I’ve done a couple of workshops about the material through the Princeton Public Library where the art is currently on display. While that’s given me a better idea of what I want to include in the teacher’s guide, I still need to put it all together in a compelling way.

  5. The $9000 doesn’t just pay for the work I’m doing.
  6. It needs to cover printing costs, of course, but also the shipping fees—I’m guessing at least $1000 will go to mailing out all the rewards. And then there are the taxes I’ll owe on this income as well as the bank fees and Kickstarter’s cut.

  7. Finally, even though I adore making books, they’ve never been lucrative for me.
  8. Years ago, an author I know personally—someone whose work had been published by one of the big companies—referred to their book as a “very expensive business card.” Though I’ve only ever self-published, that rings true for me as well.

    Even when my most popular book got a Boing Boing bump, its sales amounted to one-fifth of my income that year, barely covering the labor of laying out the book. It’s only because I’d done a successful Kickstarter for the project and received a Regional Arts and Culture Council grant for it that I didn’t have to eat the costs of researching, painting, and writing the book.

    You could argue that making the curriculum for Everything’s Fine along with the rest of my work freely available in digital form might be murder on my sales, but I don’t think that reasoning adds up. The fact is that getting paid properly for books is complicated. This fascinating post over on Jane Friedman’s excellent blog makes that clear from the perspective of an author who is in and out of the traditional publishing world, and it’s only more true for someone like me.

coloring in a coloring book page
photo by Gwenn

Because, though I may have been a full-time artist for twenty years now, I’ve remained independent that entire time. By which I mean that I’m not tied to either a commercial gallery or a university teaching job, and therefore my art isn’t automatically promoted by those kinds of institutions among prestigious art circles.

So I’m independent, but also not, because I very much depend on you, my art community.

I know my work has value: I know I save the world in lots of little ways every day. But I don’t ever forget that I only get to do that because you champion me and support the work I do.

If you want to be involved in the curriculum and coloring book phase of Everything’s Fine, now is your chance! The Kickstarter is only open for another week and a half.


Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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