Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: Texas summer…what can I say?
I’m moving soon. It’s one of those cross-town moves where, on first blush, I should be able to accomplish the feat without a major use of manpower or moving boxes. Because I am acutely aware that my home office will no longer have the square footage it once did, I have been on a major cleaning spree. So, when I came to a large box of cover flats, I must confess I almost tossed them out.
Then logic prevailed, and I considered what I could do to make the best use of these free items. Before I go forward, for those of you who do not know, a cover flat is basically the cover of your book still flattened. Simplistic definition, I realize, and yet it is exactly that. Publishers often print them in batches and then mail any excess flats out to the author. Thus, these flats are not only pretty, they’re free!
They can be used for a multitude of marketing purposes. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Cut out the spine portion of the cover flat to create instant book marks. This is most easily done on a paper cutter but can certainly be accomplished with a decent pair of scissors. Even if your publishing house gives you bookmarks, these one-of-a-kind bookmarks are less bulky than the ones the publishers provide. If you really want to be creative, you can glue two together to create a double-sided bookmark. But I like to use the blank side to hand-write a greeting and signature, something the bookmarks from my publisher don’t afford me the option to do.
2. Use your cover flat to bind the first chapter of your book and give it away at signings and conferences. Check with your publisher for the okay on this one, but you receive permission, print away! The process is simple and can be done at home if you have a printer that prints on both sides of the page. A heavy-duty stapler is a low-cost way of binding your mini-book, though a trip to Kinkos or other similar store can accomplish a more professional printing and binding job. Again, budget probably will determine which of these options you choose. Don’t forget to autograph these as well!
3. Use the front half of the flat— what would be the book’s front cover–as a promotional post card to send out to your mailing list. Since the back of the cover flat is plain white, it easily translates to use as a mailing device. An important caveat: Be sure to check the size of your flat against the US Postal Service’s requirements. As of today’s writing (July 31, 2009) the Post Office’s website states a postcard can be no less than 3 inches high by 5.5 inches in length and no more than 4.5 inches high by 6 inches in length. Cost is 28 cents each (http://www.usps.com/prices/first-class-mail-prices.htm).
4. Perhaps the cost of mailing postcards is more than you’re willing or able to spend. Why not use those postcard-size flats as promotional materials for bookstores? What better way to advertise a book signing or a new release than by providing bookstores with a stack of cover flats for stuffing in bags or handing to customers? I prefer to use the front only, as the entire flat’s size can be too large for the limited counterspace most stores have. As with the bookmarks, the back of the flat provides a blank canvas for writing a note or posting a sticker with the information on your upcoming release or signing (I like shipping labels for this). Always complete the endeavor with an autograph.
5. Many of you are scrapbookers. Create scrapbook pages using the cover flats and include fan letters, reviews, and anything else related to the book, then bind them to form a “forever keepsake.”
6. Cover flats lend themselves to other craft projects. I own a purse made from the cover of a very old western novel that’s sized somewhere between a standard paperback and a hardcover book. It makes for a tiny tote, but it’s very cute and makes quite a fashion statement.
My question to you is: What can YOU make with a book cover flat?