© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Local photographer Susan Hacker Stang shares insights into publishing through crowdfunding

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Local photographer Susan Hacker Stang recently crowdfunded the publishing of her third photography book. She explains how that worked.

A few years ago, the New Yorker bravely posed the question “Can crowdfunding replace artists’ day jobs?” While that answer still remains to be seen, crowdfunding is becoming a viable source for artists wishing to pursue passion projects.

Local photographer Susan Hacker Stang knows the ways of crowdfunding. She recently successfully published a book, reAPPEARANCES, using such methods. On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” Stang discussed the process, her book and the new ways artists can fund their projects. On March 29, Stang will also share some of her insights at a workshop at the Sheldon Art Galleries. 

What is fascinating about the book is that it features photographs taken with a toy camera over the course of Stang’s travels across the world.

“I have been calling this book a visual journey through the uncanny coherence in the look of the world,” Stang said. “We look at the world and we expect to find meaning. Why do we expect to find meaning? Because the look of things is a kind of language. … What reAPPEARANCES refers to is that I found things in one country or one city that I found echoed in something I saw somewhere else.”

Stang, who has previously published two other books of photography, said that the market for photography books published by normal book publishers is diminishing. Most publishers want to print in series of 20,000. Even though they liked the concept of her work, they couldn’t publish at a smaller amount.

When she originally pitched reAPPEARANCES to such publishers, several recommended that she try to raise the funds for publishing herself. She said she thought she would never be able to do a Kickstarter campaign, but over the years started to see other photographers using them more and more.

“I realized, no, this is not asking for charity, this is giving value for money,” Stang said. “There are rewards. There is the book if you support it at a certain level. You’re asking people to have faith in advance that you will produce something they’d like to receive.”

Stang eventually went on to raise $16,700 through Kickstarter to publish 500 limited-edition copies of her book.

“The month of the campaign is very nerve-wracking,” said Stang. “The last few days, as you’re approaching success, you’re glued to the computer, watching for those backing pledges.”

Stang said she decided to print 500 copies instead of any other number because it was a number that felt manageable to her.

“At this point, here I am my own publicist, my own marketer, my own self-promoter and my own mailroom,” said Stang. “I thought, I don’t want to have cartons of books in my house making me feel guilty they are unsold. I’m going to choose a small amount, make it a really lovely book, and make it a numbered limited edition.”

Listen as Stang shares other lessons from the world of self-publishing:

Related Events

What: The Sheldon Art Galleries Present Susan Hacker Stang Workshop "My Journey to reAPPEARANCES"
When: Tuesday, March 29 at 6:00 p.m. 

Where: The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
More information: Free admission but reservations required at (314)533-9900 ext. 37 or email: plincoln@thesheldon.org 

What: The Sheldon Art Galleries Present "Susan Stang reAPPEARANCES"
When: March 4 - April 30, 2016
Where: Ann Lee and Wilfred Konnecker Gallery at The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards,Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

Stay Connected
Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.