A former toddler teacher, Abbie Wanamaker began writing children’s books after being inspired by a child in her classroom. Wanamaker, 37, has just finished her second book, Jack & Olive, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to print the copies of the book.
“When I was at Dorchester Open Studios, the woman next to me – her name is Margery Buckingham, she’s on the Dorchester Art Collaborative – she immediately told me, ‘You should try Kickstarter,’” Wanamaker said. “I’m honestly the worst at putting myself out there, and having someone mentor me – she sat down with me and gave me deadlines – and she had used them before, so I decided to go with them.”
Wanamaker also decided to use Kickstarter instead of another self-publishing service like Amazon because she wanted to use Acme Bookbinding, which she used for her first book.
“They do really gorgeous work and, as an artist, I love the work they do and the quality of their books,” she added.
Initially, Wanamaker – who studied painting at UMass Amherst before getting her MFA at the University of Southern California, was going to illustrate children’s books.
“I became a painter instead,” Wanamaker said. “Then in grad school, I did sculpture, sewing, and photography, and I took a break from art after getting my master’s. I went into early education with toddlers. My first foray back into art was books – I had two little art books – and that’s where it started.”
Wanamaker said every couple of years, she gets an idea that won’t go away, and she begins drawing and collecting material to turn it into a book.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m seeking for it to be a children’s book, it’s just something that’s high in expressing myself,” Wanamaker said. “I love that books are something I can get into people’s hands that they can enjoy … It’s an art project, but it’s also very accessible.”
Wanamaker, who is originally from southern Massachusetts but now lives in Fields Corner, is trying to raise $4,000 by April 3 for her campaign. While the minimum pledge is $1, each pledge amount above $10 comes with an additional incentive -- $25 will get backers a hardbound signed copy of Jack & Olive and an invitation to be an honored guest at Wanamaker’s printing party, which will be held in Dorchester sometime in June. Pledges of $100 or more will earn backers three signed copies of the book, plus two 8”x10” prints of illustrations from Jack & Olive, and other goodies.
So far, Wanamaker has 43 backers and has raised $1,690 with about two weeks left to meet her goal. Once she’s done with Jack & Olive, Wanamaker said she has more books she wants to publish.
“I’m not sure what this could lead to, I’m really curious,” she said. “But it’s a start for me to get myself out there and network a little bit.”
The link to Wanamaker’s pledge project is here.