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Help Alaskan artist and writer Ray Bonnell produce a guide to over 50 historic sites in Interior Alaska

Stretch Goal - Help publish a teacher's edition of "Interior Sketches"

Now that we have achieved our primary goal (sufficient funds for a first printing of “Interior Sketches”)—it is time to stretch our vision. I would love to also produce a “teacher’s edition” of the book, and am looking to raise an additional $1,200.00.

Our local school district in the Fairbanks North Star Borough teaches a local history unit in the third grade, and several teachers have told me they use some of my columns as teaching aids. (One teacher even said I was like a “rock star” to local third grade teachers. Pretty heady stuff for an artist who has labored in relative obscurity for 25 years.)

They also told me that the newspaper format often is not easy to use in the classroom. The trade paperback format of the regular book would also present problems for teachers. Consequently, I would like to produce a large format version of the book, with a spiral or plastic comb spine so teachers could easily reproduce pages for classroom use. The book would contain much of the same material, but the text would probably be adjusted to a third-grade reading level, and I could perhaps include worksheets. I have already talked with several elementary teachers who are eager to help me.

Because of its larger size, a teacher’s edition would be more expensive to print. A copy of the teacher's edition book will be available at the $40.00 pledge level. Also, if sufficient additional funds are raised, I would like to place one copy of the teacher’s edition in each elementary school library within 200 miles of Fairbanks. (Remember, Alaska is sparsely populated.)

I estimate that an additional $1,000.00 would cover the cost for a teacher’s edition. When you throw in the Kickstarter fees, the total would be about $1,200, so that is my goal for this final week of the campaign. Please help me raise the final campaign total to $5,000.00 so we can publish both the regular and teacher’s editions of “Interior Sketches.”  

Tag along as an artist tours many of the historic and culturally significant sites in Interior Alaska.

What is the project?

The part of Interior Alaska covered by this project is immense. From the Canadian border in the east to the curve of the Yukon river in the west, and from the Alaska Range in the south to the northern bow of the Yukon River, this area covers over 160,000 square miles. Although sparsely populated, it is rich in history—from the Athabascan Indians who have lived here for thousands of years, to the fur traders, miners and other westerners who began moving here in the 1800s.

Scattered across this region are scores of historic and culturally important sites. Although some of these sites are being preserved, many are fading away—the result of development, vandalism, accidents and time. And just as the sites are fading away, so too is their memory, as the old-timers who lived this history die or move away.

Salchaket Native Cemetery
Salchaket Native Cemetery

I feel it is important to at least record a “snapshot in time” of these sites. Consequently, for the past 25 years I have been tramping the roads and trails of Interior Alaska, visiting the old mining camps, roadhouses, cemeteries and villages—taking photographs and notes and producing sketches.

The sketches have become detailed pen and ink drawings, and recently, the notes have become newspaper columns. For over two years I have been writing a bi-weekly column entitled “Sketches of Alaska” for my local newspaper, the “Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.” Each column features one of my drawings plus a short essay describing the site.I try to make each column as historically accurate as possible, and include information gleaned from numerous sources, including interviews with local experts and land owners.

Boundary Roadhouse
Boundary Roadhouse

Many of my readers have urged me to produce a book of my drawings and columns, and now (with over 60 columns under my belt) is the time to produce it. Being a newspaper columnist is certainly not an avenue to riches, and black and white art, because of the vagaries of the art market, has never been a big seller. Consequently, I am turning to you, the people interested in reading the book to help me publish it.

What will be in the book?

The book will have at least 120 pages, and will contain drawings and essays covering over 50 historic sites in Interior Alaska. In addition there will be numerous smaller drawings depicting Alaskan wildflowers and wildlife, dogsleds, caches, fish wheels, and other scenes from Interior Alaska. The book will also feature maps so readers can find the sites. (Almost all the sites are road accessible. You can actually go out and visit most of them.)

Back pasture parley, old truck along Chena Hot Springs Road
Back pasture parley, old truck along Chena Hot Springs Road

Most of the book will be arranged around the major highways and roads of Interior Alaska (The Denali National Park road; and the Alaskan, Denali, Elliott, Parks, Richardson, Steese, and Taylor highways). There will also be a separate section on the Fairbanks area. Listed below are some of the communities and sites to be included.

Black Rapids, Boundary, Chatanika, Chena Hot Springs, Circle Hot Springs, Chicken, Denali National Park, Delta Junction, Dot Lake, Eagle, Ester, Fairbanks, Fox, Gakona, Healy, Kantishna, Livengood, Manley, Nenana, Olnes, Richardson, Salcha, Tanacross Valdez Creek

Sample Chapter 

What are my qualifications to write a book?

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in anthropology and art and a minor in journalism. A practicing artist for over 30 years, I also have almost 15 years of experience in the writing, editing and publishing fields, and have published articles in regional magazines such as "The Alaska Journal." .In 1994 I received the Ron R. Davis Award for Historical Writing from the Journalism Department at the University of Alaska, and in 2011 I received the Alaska Historical Society's Contributions to Alaska History award.

Can samples of my art and writing be seen anywhere else?

If anybody wants to see more examples of my work they can go to three Web sources:

My columns appear in the Sunday Section of the "Fairbanks Daily News-Miner online edition. Scroll down to the "Sketches of Alaska" heading.

I have a blog called "Sketches of Alaska." You can wander around the site, or go directly to "drawings" under categories in the sidebar.

I also have a web site for my art at Pingo Studio. I'm in the process of updating the site and right now it features mostly older drawings.

What aspects of the project will Kickstarter funds cover?

The funds provided by this Kickstarter campaign with pay for production of a first printing of the book.  Production costs will include editing and consulting fees, obtaining a Library of Congress number, bar coding costs, printing and shipping, and other incidental expenses. Costs for rewards and fulfillment will also be covered.

I will be doing most of the design and set-up myself, but will hire a professional editor to review the project, and will not hesitate to consult with other experts  to make sure the job is done right.

Project Budget

  • Pre-press (editing, consulting, ISBN number, etc.)            $800.00
  • Printing                                                                               1000.00
  • Shipping (from printer to me)                                               700.00
  • Rewards (post cards, note cards, calendars                        300.00
  • Fulfillment                                                                             500.00
  • Kickstarter and Amazon fees                                                380.00
  • TOTAL                                                                               $3680.00

If I exceed my funding goal, what will the extra funds be used for?

Obviously, if I exceed my goals, first off, I will make sure that every backer gets the rewards he/she is entitled to.

Secondly--more funds means more books to be printed and marketed. (Marketing probably isn't much of an issue with a small initial print run, but it's an issue I am willing to deal with if I am so lucky!)

Thirdly--I have had several elementary school teachers tell me they snip my columns out of the newspaper to use in teaching local history. Unfortunately, they have also said the format isn't the best for sharing with their students. I would love to produce a larger format teacher's edition of the book and send a copy to every elementary school in Interior Alaska.

Lastly, I would like to develop an Interior Sketches web site with clickable maps and links (links are a fantastic way to annotate the essays).

Finally! What are the rewards?

The following rewards will be available in various combinations, as specified in the sidebar.

Four 5" x 7"  art post cards depicting historic cabins
Four 5" x 7" art post cards depicting historic cabins
Four 4.25" x 5.5"  note cards (with envelopes) depicting Interior Alaska scenes
Four 4.25" x 5.5" note cards (with envelopes) depicting Interior Alaska scenes
2013 Interior Sketches Historical Calendar with 14 drawings, plus descriptive text and interesting facts about Interior Alaska history
2013 Interior Sketches Historical Calendar with 14 drawings, plus descriptive text and interesting facts about Interior Alaska history
129 page "Interior Sketches" book with over 50 historical drawings and essays, plus maps to locate sites
129 page "Interior Sketches" book with over 50 historical drawings and essays, plus maps to locate sites
Original drawing, "Ben Eielson's Curtiss Wright Jenny", 5" x 7", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Ben Eielson's Curtiss Wright Jenny", 5" x 7", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Davidson Ditch inverted siphon at U.S. Creek", 5" x 7", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Davidson Ditch inverted siphon at U.S. Creek", 5" x 7", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Taku Chief tug boat", 5" x 7", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Taku Chief tug boat", 5" x 7", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "NC Company Warehouses, Fairbanks," 5.5" x 7.5", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "NC Company Warehouses, Fairbanks," 5.5" x 7.5", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Osgood 200 Face Shovel used during ALCAN construction." 8" diameter, pen and ink on Bristol
Original drawing, "Osgood 200 Face Shovel used during ALCAN construction." 8" diameter, pen and ink on Bristol
Original drawing, "Chena Hot Springs historic cabins," 6.5" x 9", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Chena Hot Springs historic cabins," 6.5" x 9", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "McCarty WAMCATS Station." 7" x 10", pen and ink on Bristol
Original drawing, "McCarty WAMCATS Station." 7" x 10", pen and ink on Bristol
Original drawing, "Fort Egbert NCO Quarters", 6.5" x 10.5". pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing, "Fort Egbert NCO Quarters", 6.5" x 10.5". pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original Drawing, "Denali National Parl Dog Feed Cache", 8" x 11", pen and ink drawing on Bristol
Original Drawing, "Denali National Parl Dog Feed Cache", 8" x 11", pen and ink drawing on Bristol
Original drawing. "Church Drill on Fairbanks Creek," 11" x 13", pen and ink on Bristol Board
Original drawing. "Church Drill on Fairbanks Creek," 11" x 13", pen and ink on Bristol Board

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

I believe that there are few risks in this project. The art has already been produced. The post cards, note cards and calendars are already done. Most of the text, in the form of newspaper columns, has already been written and just needs to be revised into a more suitable book format. An introduction needs to be written, and maps also need to be produced.

In order to support my art habit, I have acquired many years of experience in the writing, editing and publishing fields, and have the expertise, equipment and software to prepare the book for printing. Consequently, I will be doing much of the production work myself. This will not stop me from calling in experts when necessary. I will hire an editor to go over the manuscript, as well as having local historians review the text for historical accuracy. I will also have the entire book package reviewed and proofed by a graphic designer.

One of the difficulties will just be putting the entire package together. I have produced numerous smaller publications such as calendars, catalogs and directories, but this is one of the largest projects I have undertaken. If I just pace myself and not let the project overwhelm me I should do just fine.

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be finding the right printing company to do the job. It is too expensive to have the books printed in Alaska, so I am looking for a printer in the contiguous U.S. (What we call the "Lower 48"). I am working with a print consultant in the state of Washington to find just the right printer.

Marketing, of course, will be an entirely different puzzle I will have deal with. I have sold cards, prints and calendars through local shops, so I am familiar with some marketing basics. The small business development center here in Fairbanks can help me develop a marketing plan. Also, the print consultant I am working with has ties to a small regional publishing house, which (if everything works out) can help with distribution and marketing.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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