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If you've ever started a small fire with just your thighs and a pair of corduroy pants, please read...

Long before Brangelina or Bennifer, we were Stapril - Stacey and April - best friends since the day we met at Ithaca College in 1990.  A less annoying twosome than Kathy Lee and Hoda, more relatable than Oprah and Gayle, we bonded over our mutual love of chocolate and shared ability to celebrate every success with FOOD and mourn every failure with FOOD.  Our friendship grew, as did our thighs, and we tried every weight loss tactic on the market to no avail.

In our first book together, 1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat, we offer up our collective experience riding the yo-yo dieting roller coaster.  In our honest and humorous journal entries to each other, we stand naked before our readers, our dimpled asses quivering and chicken arms flapping in the breeze. We challenge them to join us on our quest to find moderation, live a healthier lifestyle, and treat ourselves with the love and respect we show each other. For us, the key to making this change (now picture us, arms around each other, playfully tickling the other's muffin top) was friendship! Our book includes a guide on how to use accountability as the foundation for any weight loss program.  

We launched the paperback and eBook version in February 2013.  We have over ten reviews on Amazon, a few editorial reviews and are also being sold in a local bookstore.  But our friends and family are tapped out. How many times can we ask Uncle Abe to purchase a copy?  In retrospect, we've done things backwards. We are just now learning all of the things that we could or should have done before the book was even available.  We know what we want to do, where we want to go, but we've very little knowledge about how to get there.  With so little time and so many avenues available for marketing, we are having trouble prioritizing our efforts, and so, we do a little bit here and a little bit there and are left feeling lost.

So here we are, ready to organize, plan and ATTACK.

(One of these photos was used in a holiday card to our professors. The other was taken twenty years later, at a friend's wedding in 2012. Can you guess which is which?)

11 Point Marketing Plan - YAY!!

 

1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks

Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat

 

 1.         Book Description

After beginning the 30 Day Books marketing class, we rewrote, revamped and revised our book description. Below is our original description as it first appeared on Amazon when 1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks (WLP) launched in mid-February:

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you sneaked downstairs after everyone else went to bed to work on your novel, catch up with a friend, redecorate the living room, learn how to sew, paint, play the trombone, anything EXCEPT steal food from the kitchen to cap off a "bad" eating day with a good old-fashioned late night binge? This book is a real-life account of two women and their weight loss journey. It's also a guide that details how others can team up to discover a place where food is food, exercise is no longer torment and chocolate is synonymous with neither Heaven nor Hell.

After two decades of dieting, bingeing and purging and failing AGAIN in their efforts to lose weight and keep it off, this sheepish two-some resigned themselves to the fact that this Monday would look like all the other Mondays before. With renewed commitment after a weekend of overindulging, there would be a valiant attempt at a morning walk and a bowl of tasteless high fiber cereal for breakfast, low calorie dressing drizzled over a plate of veggies and some celery for a snack. But by dinner time, feeling lightheaded and deeply deprived, we’d be stuffing our faces with the entire contents of the fridge, paying special attention to foods that we’d suddenly put on the “forbidden” list.

We were caught in the endless cycle of yo-yo dieting. We had already employed every weight loss tactic on the market, diets, workout crazes, appetite suppressants, and hypnosis. Nothing seemed to stick. If we didn’t find some way to break the cycle, we were destined for obesity, severe health issues and deep DEEP depression. Forget the dress size, we just wondered what it would be like to fully participate in a conversation with friends while out to dinner, without being wholly distracted by the bread basket. We were determined to find out. We took the tip that we had read in countless magazines and books (“Work out with a friend.”) and turned it into the starting point of a new plan. A plan that began with one simple tool: friendship. And we lost weight, lots of weight. But even more importantly, we started to take care of our bodies, our psyches, and ourselves. 1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat is a real-life account of two women and their weight loss journey. Two women who had seen the ugly side of plus-size shopping and self-hatred – late night pizza binges and bloated mornings – and found their way to healthy living.

          After considering the suggestions made in the Week 1videos (creating a sales pitch, using persuasive language and hooking people immediately) we came up with the following:

 Tight Friends = Loose Pants! Use friendship and accountability to help you reach your weight loss goals and share laughs, tears and lots of fun along the way!

 The authors were BFFs caught in the endless cycle of yo-yo dieting, having already employed every weight loss tactic on the market. Forget the dress size, they just wondered what it would be like to fully participate in conversations over dinner without being wholly distracted by the bread basket! 

 Taking a tip from countless magazines and books ("Work out with a friend."), a new plan was formed and pact was forged based on one simple tool: friendship. The weight came off -- lots of weight. But even more importantly, the accountability between friends meant taking care of their bodies and their psyches. 

 1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat is a real-life account of two women and their weight loss journey. The book is not just a guide to how you can live a healthy lifestyle. For that you can choose among the countless weight loss books that are likely collecting dust on your bedside table. It is an invitation to join them, learn from their many mistakes, and to know you are not alone on your own journey. Grab a friend and start today!

          We have continued to tweak the description based on the same suggestions mentioned above, as well as adding testimonials.  After reading Mark Edwards post, we are currently considering updating once more to some version of the following description:

 Use Friendship, Lose Weight!

Two best friends in need of a break from the yo-yo dieting roller coaster, formed a weight loss plan and a pact based on one simple tool: friendship. The weight came off, but even more importantly, the accountability between pals meant the women started taking care of their psyches (less negative self-talk) as well as their bodies (less hurdle for the girdle).

 1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat is not only a guide to healthy living, but an invitation into the authors’ personal and humorous journal entries as they jiggle, jog and cajole each other. Laugh at their missteps, learn from their mistakes, and know you are not alone on this journey. Grab a friend and start today! 

"It's new and has a lot going for it.  It is well designed, sensible, short, humorous, effective and reasonably priced...[their] eating plan is far from draconian." - The Book Loft, Solvang, CA

 Action Steps for Book Description:

  • Continue to research book descriptions of best sellers in our genre.
  • Streamline book description
  • Ask for suggestions/comments on description in Peer Feedback Group 

Target date - May 1st.

 

2.         Author Bio/Headshots

Since April and I are co-authors, we felt it might be necessary in some instances to have a short biography for the both of us:

April Paine is a writer and teacher. After 10 years living in England, she now resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. Stacey Wein is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. Their collaboration, with several projects under development, was launched recently as Hip Chick Lit.

We can also use the author bios from our book:

April is a writer and teacher with a deep love of Van Gogh and a great fear of eye boogers.  After a decade in England, she now resides in Texas with her husband and two children.

Stacey is a writer and artist with an appreciation for dark humor, which she explores in her developing cartoon series, Gynecopia. She lives in California with her husband and three children.

April has added the following to her Amazon Author Page:

April Paine is a writer, teacher and firm believer in the celebration of life's smallest joys. She strives to empower women in the uphill battle against low self-esteem and appreciates making good choices toward healthy living (but tries not to flog herself when she doesn't).

After a decade in England, April now resides in the great state of Texas with her husband, two children and an irrational fear of being stopped by a Texas State Trooper. During her tenure in England, she learned a little about tea and a lot about keeping calm and carrying on. Now that she's back in Texas, she's learning a lot about iced tea and a little about going crazy and dancing the Texas two-step.

In the mood for a good read? April is the proud author of "The ABCs of Baby #2" - a book she co-wrote with her sister, Kimberly Crabb. Unlike traditional baby books, this book is geared toward parents about to embark on the adventures of a second child. It's a book that breaks down the steps for welcoming a sibling and encourages parents to treat themselves with kindness as they introduce a new member into the family.

Looking for something healthy and fun? You might like April's latest book, "1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Weeks, 3 Friends; Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat". Co-written with her college BFF, Stacey Wein, this book embraces the buddy system when it comes to weight loss and will keep you chuckling all night long as you uncover page after page of "been there" moments. "1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks" is more than this duo's weight loss memoir though, it's a buddy system plan that actually works. So grab a friend and embrace all that healthy living has to offer today!

April uploaded the following headshot to her Amazon Author Page:

Stacey is working to get a professional looking photo uploaded. In the meantime (and before she knew any better – thank you Laura!) she’s got this one up:

 Action Items for Author Bio:

  • Write author bio - Stacey
  • Upload bio to Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook Page and Website
  • Take professional looking, high resolution headshots for Stacey
  • Upload headshots to same sites mentioned above

 Target date -  May 10th

 

3.         Media Page/Kit

The following press release was crafted prior to this class:

Book of Laughs and Loss (of Weight, That Is)

Getting Personal in the Battle Against the Bulge

Los Angeles, CA (March 15, 2013) – Detoxifying cleanses, workout crazes, appetite suppressants, hypnosis…there is no shortage of tactics to try to break the endless cycle of yo-yo dieting. Nor is there a shortage of diet books and weight loss guides that lure us into a state of frenzy and frustration. Sometimes you just need to know you aren’t alone when you dream of swimming in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s or tripping the super-skinny girl working in the plus-size clothing store.

BFF’s April Paine and Stacey Wein discovered that the road to health and happiness is paved with levity and love. Now they are inviting you to ride along and learn from their lumps, bumps and bruises.  1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat, is not a typical guide to losing weight.  It is a peek into the candid journal entries shared between two friends, as they support each other to get healthy.  The stories they share and the practical approach to life they adopt will keep you chuckling and nodding your head as you read page after page of "been there" moments.  The bonus is that their approach really works!

“Anyone who has ever seen the numbers on the scale rise and fall and rise again KNOWS that resolve can weaken and we can be our own worst enemies” says Ms. Paine. “This is our way of telling others that their struggles are not unique and they should not struggle alone.”

“By joining forces with a friend,” says Ms. Wein, “and introducing accountability as a tool, we create a net to catch us when we find ourselves in diet free-fall and taking a nose-dive right into that bucket of fried chicken.”

April Paine is a writer and teacher. After 10 years living in England, she now resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. Stacey Wein is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. Their collaboration, with several projects under development, was launched recently as Hip Chick Lit.

1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks is published by Hip Chick Lit and is available in bookstores and online.  For more on upcoming projects, visit HipChickLit.com. 

###

What Amazon readers and mommy blogs have to say about

1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat:

“I have been on a diet all my life! I have read many books and this is the first one that made me feel human! Anyone can relate to April and Stacey. Reading this book gave me the motivation I needed to make a plan and stick to it. I laughed out loud and nodded my head in agreement throughout the book. I read it in one sitting and have already talked to my "buddy" about getting started…” – Vanessa (Amazon.com)

“I give this a 5/5 because you’re going to want to buy one for you AND a friend!! [O]nce you pick it up and start reading it you are going to want to call your best friend, sister, Mom, Aunt you name it anyone who has EVER wanted to lose weight and needs just a little help this book is for them!” – Laura Cyra (RealMomma.com) 

“I have read MANY, MANY, MANY, books on this subject and this one is simply THE BEST!! The authors do not try to promote some insanely difficult eating plan or food formula…Their engaging writing style leaps off of the page at you, and quickly makes you feel as though you are having a conversation with your BFF!! Throw in some killer humor and you have the perfect plan!! GREAT READ!!” – Kevin (Amazon.com)

“If you are looking for simple tips from REAL people you need to grab a copy of this book for you and a friend!”  – Frank (Amazon.com) 

“A quick and easy read filled with honesty, humor and excellent health/weight loss tips.” – Cecelia Behar-Bush (thelilmamas.com)

We also wrote a short description of the book, wihch we included with the press release when we submitted the information for our college alumni magazine and to Stacey's local bookstore for their newsletter:

1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Friends, 3 Weeks: Using the Buddy System to Fight Fat, by April Paine and Stacey Wein, is an entertaining, personal guide based on two best friends' battle against late night snacks and early morning donuts. It's a real life account of their weight loss journey retold through shared journal entries about dieting pitfalls, and includes a guide that details how others can learn to live a healthy lifestyle too...with the help of a friend.

April Paine is a writer and teacher. After 10 years living in England, she now resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. Stacey Wein is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

These documents were emailed as attachments or pasted into emails to our contacts, as we did not have a website. So...

First Action Step for Media Page/Kit - WEBSITE!!!!!

Prior to class, we had accomplished the following:

  • Set up an email account through gmail
  • Purchased the domain name
  • Created a Facebook page using the domain name
  • Scored an amazing designer duo to do our logo for free (this happened after bravely reaching out to a contact in the design world)

Since class began, and after Laura helped us to realize that the website is really a key piece and the foundation for all other marketing, we have accomplished the following:

  • Researched various author websites
  • Researched web hosts and templates
  • Choose web host and used a friend's coupon to sign up for free 60 day trial
  • Changed our DNS to new host (domain name purchased through another company)
  • Mapped out basic plan for basic-get-it-up-there-a-s-a-p-WEBSITE!

Additional action steps for WEBSITE!!!!!

  • Upload photos and content, including all media kit info
  • Include point of purchase on EVERY PAGE
  • Create clear call to action on EVERY PAGE
  • Include recommendations from "Do I Really Need an Author Website?" blog from 30 Day Books
  • Add URL to all of our social profiles
  • Add URL to our email signatures

 Target date - May 3rd 

 Additional action steps for Media Page/Kit:

  • Compile purchasing info (links to retailers, cost, ISBN#, contact info)
  • Include above information on website
  • Include all media kit information, including photos, on Facebook page

 Target date -  May 3rd

 

4.         Pitch to the Media

Prior to class we had accomplished the following:

  • We submitted our press release, photos, author bios and a short book description to our alma mater's alumni magazine, Ithaca College View. They have accepted our submission for their Mixed Media section for the August 2013 issue. 
  • Our book was written about on two mommy blogs - thelilmamas.com (in conjunction with a giveaway) & realmomma.com.  We were able to use quotes from both articles as editorial reviews.
  • Got our book onto the shelves at Stacey's hometown bookstore. Followed up with persistence and received a review in the bookstore's newsletter and mention on their Facebook page.
  • We submitted our information to a third blog, Fit Bottomed Girls, and received word that they are interested in connecting further.

Action Steps for Media Pitch:

  • Follow up with Fit Bottomed Girls with guest post suggestion and or/giveaway idea.
  • Pitch our story or a related article to our college magazine and follow up.
  • Research blogs written by friends and pitch them the idea of trying our plan for 3 weeks
  • Research top blogs in mommy and health and fitness categories
  • Pitch to top 20 blogs in those categories and follow up
  • Research top magazines in parenting/mommy/family and health and fitness categories
  • Pitch to top 20 magazines in those categories and follow up
  • Pitch to Stacey's hometown newspaper and follow up
  • Utilize "information gap" principle.
  • We know it's too early to contact Oprah, but we're considering sending some books to Ellen Degeneres with a picture of Stacey's mother and a print-out of her latest kvelling-as-only-a-Jewish-mother-can-email to us:

    "...I think you ought to send Ellen a book and also an email promoting the book (cleverly written, of course) and see if she will mention it on her show or invite you and April to come on."

    But until Ellen answers our call...

  • Be bold!

 Target date - Ongoing

 

5.         Tweak Amazon

Customer Images:

 In addition to the front and back cover photos already available for viewing, we have added the following customer images:

 

This book on my Kindle 6" E Ink Display!

The glamour shot!

    "It's every bit as entertaining as they say, and motivating too! I'm gonna rock this body!"

Unfortunately, as of 4/27, Customer Images haven't been viewable on Amazon book pages. I have not had a chance to call during business hours to inquire as to whether this is a technical glitch or whether Amazon is doing away with that feature (as they've been contemplating or have already done with the "Like" feature).

 Book Description:

We utilized HTML when we revised our book description through Author Central so we were able to use boldface.

Action Items for Tweak Amazon:

  • Call Amazon to see what's happening with Customer Images
  • Add URL to Author Page
  • Add link to Facebook page
  • Brainstorm concept for informative and highly entertaining video - not certain we would do this on a regular basis, but thinking of it as a fun way to engage potential readers (and of course, should we do this...Add link to video)

 Target date - May 1st 

 

6.         Get more reviews 

Giveaways:

We are currently hosting a giveaway on lilmamas.com.  We will absolutely include a request for a review along with the books sent to the winners of that contest.

We have also just begun hosting a giveaway on Goodreads and attached an ad to create the maximum amount of buzz. We took Laura's advice and opted to run the giveaway for one month. In less than 24 hours, 35 people have added our book to their shelves and over 60 have signed up for the giveaway!  (Update - in 4 days, over 60 people have added our book to their shelves and 172 people have signed up for the giveaway!)

Be Bold:

We've also taken Laura's "Be bold!" suggestion to heart and have been asking for reviews from people we wouldn't have before. After discovering that a neighbor was thinking of starting a publishing company with a friend, Stacey gifted her a free copy of our book. Two weeks later, the neighbor texted to say that she really enjoyed the read, so Stacey followed up with a request for a review and links to our Amazon and Goodreads pages. The next day the neighbor gave us two, 5-star reviews (one on each site)!  April's high school friend shared our book on Facebook and gave it a stellar testimonial to his FB friends. She  bravely asked him for a review. He posted a review on Amazon!  

Finally, in a moment of total audacity, April posted this to Facebook on her birthday:

I’m 41 today! I have no shame. No edit button. I already wear purple, have my seat at the mahjong table and like to feed small children. I’m telling the world that I’m 41 because I need your help!


HELP ME sell 41 books by the time I turn 41 years and 1 day. (Did Stacey & I mention that we wrote a book?!!) We’ll shoot up the Amazon charts with a blast of books bought in just one beautiful day. 

I don’t want your cards. Your flowers. Your bath salts. I want your reviews. Head straight to Amazon where you can get a Kindle copy for just $2.99. Less than the price of a side of hash browns. You can get it on Kindle, iTunes, Nook, Sony, even Kobo. You can buy a paperback copy. You say you don’t need a female-centric buddy weight loss book?! I say you should purchase the paperback and use it to prop up your next wobbly restaurant table. 

Click here: http://amzn.com/1481291149

*This shameless self-promotion is brought to you by an American. British friends need not take offense at the vulgarity (although you probably will). xxxxxxxxx

Action Items for Reviews:

  • Continue creating Goodreads presence by adding info to our author pages, joining groups, linking to friends through contact lists and Facebook, hosting giveaways
  • Continue asking for reviews from anyone who even breathes positively near our book!
  • Investigate blog tours
  • Include request for a review with every book mailed as part of a giveaway or any book gifted to friends/family/fellow authors/store clerks/maître d’s
  • Investigate Shelfari as another place to engage new readers (Thanks for the tip, Octavia!)

 Target date - Ongoing

 

7.        Guest Posting

We see the fantastic potential in guest posting. We have been featured on 2 blogs so far but we have not yet written posts or offered our article ideas for a post.

First idea - an article featuring tips specifically geared towards busy moms. It wouldn't be about our book, but would be titled similarly:  1 Weight Loss Plan, 2 Moms, 3 Minutes: Because that's all the time you have...

We want to first focus on "Mommy" blogs (where our ideal reader is hanging out). This is a list of 10 blogs that accept guest posting: 

  • Mommy Tries
  • Frantic Mommy
  • Moms Need to Know
  • Jenn's Blah Blah Blog
  • Money Saving Mom
  • Untrained Housewife
  • BURST! into wealth, health & happiness
  • Mom Fuse
  • "Cents" able Mom
  • Mom, Incorporated

 Action Items for Guest Posts:

  • Create a sample guest post for submission.
  • Identify exact requirements and contacts for the above blogs. (Right now, we know the above 10 blogs do accept guest posts.)
  • Submit ideas and/or guest posts.
  • Follow up

 Target date - May 10th. 

 

8.        Ethical Bribes 

Love, Love, LOVE this idea and we have so many ideas about ethical bribes...weekly tips, test your knowledge question and answer, related cartoon, debunking diet fads, quotes about friendship or health or reaching for your goals...

Action Items for Ethical Bribes

  • Continue brainstorming possible bribes
  • Investigate Mailchimp.com
  • Brainstorm clever alternatives to "Subscribe"

 Target date - May 10th

 

9.        Taglines

 Action Items for Taglines:

  • Brainstorm 5-10 possible taglines that are attention grabbers, memorable and clearly describe our mission
  • Focus group those taglines
  • Incorporate tagline wherever possible - website, social media, media kit, newsletters...

 Target Date - Begin April 30th

 

10.         Paid Ads

With 5 kids between us, we are particularly enthusiastic about Paid Ads because, like so many authors, our marketing time is limited. 

Action Items for Paid Ads: 

  • Create Goodreads Ad (in conjunction with giveaway), Completed April 24
  • Change ebook price to 0.99, Completed April 28
  • Pursue Google Ads
  • Apply to Ereader News Today, Completed April 28
  • Apply to Pixel of Ink, Completed April 28
  • Research BookBub Advertising
  • Research FK Books and Tips
  • Research Shelf Media Group

 Target date - May 10th

 

11.         Easy Ones 

Action Items for Easy Ones: 

  • Add URL to email signature
  • Add URL to all social media profiles and online author pages
  • Be certain our contact info is easily found on our website!
  • Add several BUY buttons to our website!
  • Use calls to action EVERYWHERE on our website

Target date - May 3rd 

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