Rebecca Hamer Introduces Kickstarter to Australia

Paving the way for others is never an easy task and one that children’s book author, Rebecca Hamer, discovered when she launched her Kickstarter campaign to her mostly-Australian audience.

Rebecca’s Where Oh Where is Monty Bear? picture book series helps kids deal with both big life transitions and small everyday challenges.

Knowing that Monty Bear was heading to Australia next, Rebecca decided to launch her third book, Where Oh Where is Monty Bear Australia using Kickstarter as a launch mechanism. 

Rebecca’s YouTube channel is great. I mean, just look at this video!

Scroll down for Rebecca’s insights about bringing the concept of crowdfunding to Australia.

What surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

It was shockingly hard to get everyone on board. This was my third book, so I knew the publishing process and felt confident taking on a new marketing strategy.

Preparing for the campaign was extremely time-consuming and I knew I had to get everything done by a hard deadline.

So many people don’t realize how long it takes to build your campaign page and even though I have experience making videos, it still took me forever.

What would you have done differently?

I would’ve done more Facebook group interaction and started engaging with people 2-3 months before launch. 

I joined a lot of teachers’ Facebook groups and had connections from my previous two books but didn’t want to bug them too much.

“Find your people who are looking for what you’re delivering. They may be homeschoolers, teachers, parents, babysitters, who knows? But find them and nurture your relationships with them.”

Did you pay for any advertising?

No, not really. I paid $50 in Facebook ads but those didn’t convert. I didn’t do a press release or anything formal.

I was able to land some visibility in Offspring Parenting Magazine’s newsletter and I reached out to Big Life Journal because they added my YouTube channel as one of their recommended resources.

All of the parenting and teacher blogs want payment for sponsored posts (~$700/post). I had lined up exposure with some bloggers but many of them didn’t follow through.

What advice would you give an indie author thinking about crowdfunding?

Spend a lot of time building relationships. Teacher bloggers are super supportive and were the best source of support for my books on emotional literacy.

Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.

Develop a cult-ish following of your work and build an audience who can’t wait to support you. Find your people who are looking for what you’re delivering. They may be homeschoolers, teachers, parents, babysitters, who knows? But find them and nurture your relationships with them.

Your audience is largest on Instagram (5k), did you find most of your backers came from that platform?

I grew my audience after making baby sleeping bags and I learned about social media over the past five years.

My Instagram followers are all from my first business and surprisingly, most of my backers were coming from Facebook. Most of them were not friends and family but one circle removed.

I also have a huge network of expat supporters who were great at sharing the campaign but weren’t backing it themselves.

Was having an Australian audience tough with your crowdfunding campaign?

I’d say so. People need to be educated about what crowdfunding is. Nobody in Australia is familiar with Kickstarter and most of my backers were first time backers.

The email templates in the Crowdfunding Vault  were really helpful in doing that audience education and outreach.

Would you do it again?

No. I burned through all of my goodwill in Australia and I’d really have to work my tail off to build a new audience.

Despite raising funds to cover the cost of your book, did running your Kickstarter help in any other way?

Yes, it really opened doors to new opportunities that I didn’t anticipate.

Maggie Dent is the Queen of Common Sense and is huge on the speaking circuit with her Maggie Moments.  I sent her a Monty Bear package and she is open to future collaboration.

Creating the Kickstarter campaign really gives you a lot of content and testimonials that you can use in future marketing efforts.

What are your future plans for Monty Bear?

My immediate plans are to tackle the Amazon machine and get my books on that platform for a new audience. That should be…a lot of work! 

Bio

Rebecca Hamer, BA Arts Psych, Grad Dip Ed, Masters Management….. Is an Early Childhood Education Specialist with over fifteen years teaching experience in Australia, Indonesia, Russia and Singapore. She has a passion for literacy development and believes that home and school co-operation is essential in facilitating children’s literacy learning.

She uses MONTY BEAR as an interactive way to engage children with all facets of literacy, including, speaking, listening, reading and writing. Rebecca loves seeing students and parents since fifteen years ago who still cherish photos and stories about their real life experiences with MONTY BEAR.

Visit her website: http://montybear.com.au/

Kickstarter campaign link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/461149098/where-oh-where-is-monty-bear-australia

Kickstarting Cami the Kangaroo—How one author reached 100% in 9 days

Did you do any research before launching your Kickstarter? If so, what did you do?

 
Yes! I started researching Kickstarter campaigns three months ago (in November), when I first read about it on one of the author Facebook groups I’m a part of.
 
I did several things:
– I asked for advice and tips from several authors who had already run successful Kickstarter campaigns,
– I searched “Kickstarter” on Facebook author group pages and read all I could that people had already posted, and
– I went onto the Kickstarter website and studied people’s campaigns (past ones and ones that were running at the time) to see what they did that made them successful and
– I read several articles on the Kickstarter website itself to learn more about the program.
 
I also spent time backing several authors who were running campaigns.
 
 

Why did you select Kickstarter over IndieGoGo or another crowdfunding platform?

 
The main reason I chose Kickstarter was because it was the platform most other authors in my Facebook groups used and were using. It was the one I could get the most advice about from others! 
 
 

What types of “behind-the-scenes” work did you do that you think contributed most to your success?

 
As stated above, research, research research! I spoke with other authors, reading about Kickstarter and crowdfunding. Then in December, came the marketing.
 
Being a teacher, I literally knew nothing about marketing, so once again, I enlisted the help of other authors for ideas. I had magnets made and a press release and took them around town, dropping them off at local coffee shops and stores.
 
I called and visited numerous dentist offices. I called and emailed local TV and newspaper outlets and told them about my project and scored two newspaper stories and two TV interviews.
 
I researched and emailed parenting bloggers asking for support. I joined teacher and parenting groups on Facebook. I contacted local libraries, schools and just started passing out my magnets to anyone and everyone!
 
I had to think about the rewards, shipping costs and make a video (which my colleague Jim made for me). I also started my author Facebook, Instagram and websites and started building support for those as soon as I could. 
 

It sounds like you reached out to tons of people. How many people do you think you’ve emailed during the campaign? 

 
Oh gosh! Hundreds! Family, friends, my book club, my church, my school I teach at, newspapers, TV stations, bloggers, other authors, libraries, schools, dentist offices, the MN Dental Foundation (who I hope to donate books to)…I’m sure I’m forgetting some! 
 
 

How did you get your local TV coverage? Did you have that connection before you launched?

 
Nope! I just prepared and sent an email about my journey from teacher to author and they contacted me about doing a segment! 
 
 

What has been the most surprising thing about your Kickstarter campaign? What did you not expect to happen that has happened?

 
So many people have helped me. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am just so grateful!
 
From my friend, Malina, who gave me the idea to choose a kangaroo for my main character, to my friend Jen who put me in contact with someone to help create the bookmarks I plan to give all backers. The ladies in my Bible study who have prayed for me and supported me through this entire thing to my friend and colleague Jim who created the video for my campaign.
 
From people like you and other authors (especially Diane Alber) who have given me so much great advice and support to my friends (old and new) who have championed for me this whole time.
 
My family (parents, sisters and my extended family in WI, TX and CA) has been especially supportive—every time I make a new post on my author page, they are right there sharing it and supporting me.
 
My #1 fan and cheerleader has been my husband Will. He has supported me every step of the way—I definitely couldn’t have done any of this without his unconditional support and love.
 
 

Have you had to change your strategy mid-campaign? If so, why?

 
Yes! I was surprised and excited AND grateful when I found out that we made our goal about 9 days into the campaign! So, I then had to start thinking about stretch goals.
 
Once again, I had to research, talk to my author friends and do a lot of thinking about how to go about that. I really wanted to be able to donate books to schools and also to the MN Dental Foundation and since I have over two weeks left of my campaign, I’m hoping to keep the momentum going to be able to do that. 
 

What advice would you give a fellow author who is looking to crowdfund their book?

 
Reach out and talk to people! Ask questions. Start researching and building up support for your book a couple of months before you launch. 
 

I know you’re still in the midst of your campaign but would you pursue crowdfunding again or recommend it for other authors like yourself? If so (or not) why?

 
Yes! It’s been so fun! I’ve loved every minute. The amount of support I’ve had has been overwhelming and exciting.
 
I am so grateful to have had this experience. I have learned so much, made so many new friends and have had so many new experiences. 

Watch the video below to back Stacy’s book and help her reach her stretch goals, Cami the Kangaroo has too many sweets!

Want more crowdfunding help for your book?