Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Authors Keep Post Costs Down!

Thanks to longtime subscriber to my SharingwithWriters newsletter Raff Ellis for this guest post. Postage is definitely a consideration for business-minded authors. I think the environment is equally important. And I, like you, suspect this new policy has nothing to do with security.  By the way, articles like this appear in SharingwithWriters newsletter, too. Subscribe and get a free booklet by going to the home page of my Web site, Find the subscription form in the upper right corner of the page.

The cost of mailing books is going up!

I have been selling autographed copies of my book Kisses from a Distance from my home for over three years. Readers order through my web site or by mail, which is quite convenient for me and them.
Early on I invested in a Dymo label maker and subscribed to Dymo Stamps, which allows me to print the proper postage. I have literally sent out hundreds of copies by simply printing the label, postage for the envelope, and putting them in my mailbox. If I have more than three going at the same time, I will run them down to the Post Office. I once took eighty at the same time and the postal clerk wasn't happy. He groused about the media mail option, “Don’t know why we even have this rate,” he snarled. In any event, I like to do it myself, and just put them in my big mailbox at the curb.
Imagine my surprise when a recent envelope came back to me two days after I handed it off to my mailman. The sticker on it says that if a package is over 13 oz. it must be taken to the Post Office, and handed to a clerk. I know this limitation applies to mailboxes on the street, and to boxes outside the Post Office. Little did I know that giving it to my postman was the same as putting it in a mailbox. This never happened before.

So, if I go to the Post Office, even though I have the proper postage affixed, I must go inside stand in line, and hand it to a “retail service associate.” Now I will have to use a dollar’s worth of gas (one-third of a gallon @ $3.00/gal.) to make a round trip of 6.4 miles. I also have to spend the better part of a half-hour of my time, if there are no crowds at the Post Office, that is. And I owe it all to “heightened security” requirements. Do they really think I would send a bomb from my home, with my return address on it? Also a note on the package said it can be sent via surface transportation only. I don’t know how long it’ll now take a book to get to California.
I guess I will now have to charge more for shipping and handling. I had been billing $3.00 per order for shipping. The postage (including the fee for printing the stamp from home) and the padded envelope, discounting the cost of the mailing label and any time spent in preparation, is $3.55. Because of this inane security requirement, it has now gone up to $4.55. This is how we reduce our carbon footprint, I guess.

So, thanks a lot Uncle Sam. I feel eminently safer now that I saw the clerk toss my package into a bin without so much as a glance at it. Now that I know you are using such common sense in protecting us from ourselves, I will rest easier.

Today's guest blogger is author and lecturer Raff Ellis ( He blogs at and you can see the trailer for his book at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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