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Saving Time & Money on
 Writing-Related Mailing

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.

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