Saving Time &
By Cheryl Bolen
Ten years ago--right around the time Priority Mailers burst on the
scene--this newsletter published an article I wrote on saving time and
money on writing-related mailing. Many authors told me it was extremely
helpful to them.
Since the U.S. postage rates increased in January, I thought this
would be a good time to update the information.
The next time you go to the post office, stock up on these three
types of free Priority mailers: the flat-rate mailer, corrugated boxes
for manuscripts, and large, Tyvek envelopes. If you mail a lot of
complete manuscripts, you might wish to request the post office ship you
a box of manuscript-size boxes.
And while you=re at the
post office, stock up on Priority Mail stamps. One stamp, costing $4.05,
will cover the cost of a flat-rate mailer and/or up to one pound (the
minimum for Priority Mail use) in the other types of Priority mailers.
Also stock up on first-class stamps, post cards, and lots of
24-cent stamps (these to be discussed later). If you=ve
got commercial post cards on hand, these can mailed with 24-cent stamps.
Having all this on hand allows you to mail from your neighborhood
box and save trips (and gas) to the post office.
I can=t stress how
important it is to have your own mailing scale. This, too, will save you
many trips to the post office. These are not expensive and are available
from office supply stores. You can even modify a food scale like the
ones you can find at dollar stores.
Even without your own scale, you can figure your first-class
postage based on 39-cents for the first ounce and 24-cents for each
ounce thereafter. (This is why those 24-cent stamps are so handy.) For a
regular #10 envelope (legal size) with standard 20-pound paper, you can
figure roughly four pages to the ounce.
Using the Priority (2-3 day delivery) mailers is generally cheaper
than purchasing padded mailers. The flat-rate mailers can
be the best buy of all. Made of light-weight cardboard, these envelopes
measure 9.5 by 12 inches and are ideal for most contest entries and for
sending partials to agents and editors. If you mail up to a pound (about
64 pages) in them, the cost is almost the same as it is for first class,
but you don=t have to buy an
envelope. Where you really save money is on stuffing those mailers. I=ve
stuffed 150 pages into a flat-rate mailer which can be mailed for $4.05.
Those same 150 pages mailed first class would cost $9.27--and you=d
still have to buy the envelope! A word of caution here. Some postal
clerks will ignore the flat-rate and charge you by the ounce if you tape
the overstuffed envelope.
Let=s say, though, that
you=re sending out a 40-page
partial. The mailing costs there would be only $2.55 for first class,
versus $4.05 for flat-rate mailer.
Because I make it a rule to always mail the cheapest way I can, I
keep manilla mailing envelopes as well as padded mailers on hand at all
times. While the padded mailers can be pricey, Walgreen=s
has three-for-a-dollar sales on these almost every month, with a limit
of six per coupon. Savings on this sale averages about $1 per envelope.
Another way to save money on mailing is to not provide SASE
for the return of your materials. I always send a #10 envelope for reply
only and convey those instructions in my cover letter.
As touched on earlier, one of the most significant savings can be
achieved by eliminating gas-guzzling trips to the post office and by
using the 24-cent stamps (instead of 39-cent ones) for all ounces after
the first ounce.
While saving money is nice, saving time is even better. Wouldn=t
you rather be writing than driving to and from the post office?
This article first appeared in In Print in January, 2006.