Post Office Tips for Writers

Writers spend a lot of time at the post office. At least I do as a newly minted author. I send print copies of my book out to reviewers, to contest winners, journalists, libraries and persons of interest. Of interest to me, that is.

At my local post office, waiting in line is a little like playing Russian roulette. I’ll either be assisted by:

– one of two kindly, sympathetic, and highly efficient workers behind the counter; or

– the cantankerous manifestation of a female who appears to have lost both her sanity and smile eons ago;

The window belonging to the latter is littered with large Post-its detailing warnings: “No mailing letters or envelopes containing weapons.” “Baton Rouge is not in France.” “Have proper change ready.” On this last one, I’m afraid I once approached her with one dollar when my stamps cost ninety-two cents. I did not receive my change.

Authors sending out books know that even with media mail, it’s not cheap. When I asked the customer assistance challenged worker which envelope would be best for sending a book, she grabbed one off a shelf and pressed it against my chest. And I was told that should I dare include a letter or anything resembling a letter requiring its own separate envelope, I would be charged more. I paid nearly two dollars per envelope and used them for my next few mailings, paying north of ten dollars each for packets to the east coast.

On my next trip, I stood in prayer in the long line, hoping for assistance from one of the two kindly workers. My prayer was not only granted, but several large FREE, padded envelopes with flat rates were gently handed to me. Henceforth, my mail-outs never cost over $6.10.

What is the moral to this tale? Hold out for the right type of help and do your own research first. It doesn’t always pay to rely on experts.

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Angelina (Barbin) Jameson

Great info to know. Thanks for sharing your experience at the post office.

8 years ago

Great idea Lida! They also have flat rate boxes in several sizes. You know to get your postage from USPS.COM right so you just stop and drop. No more lines.

Beth Trissel
8 years ago

Thanks. Very good to know.

Joanne Stewart
8 years ago

Yeah, those flat rate boxes and envelopes are only cheaper if what you’re mailing would normally cost more or if you just want the delivery confirmation. For books, I’ve found it’s cheapest to buy a bubble mailer (I get mine in Walmart while I’m shopping, they end up being maybe $0.50 each) and shove it one of those. Mail it via First class. I can’t remember exactly what it costs, as I haven’t mailed one lately, but maybe $3 at most.

Luanna Stewart
8 years ago

I count my lucky stars that all the staff at our PO are nice – perhaps it’s the small town. Thanks for the mailer advice!

Mary Morgan
Mary Morgan
8 years ago

Great post! I’ve been fortunate to have several helpful postal employees. I can always rely on them to weigh and grab the appropriate envelope and/or box. They’ve shared tidbits of info–from mailing within the state to outside the U.S.

Susabelle Kelmer
8 years ago

I ship stuff all the time. Here are some tips: 1. Media mail is actually EXPENSIVE and extremely slow. I can use the $2.90 two-day priority envelope for my books. I include letters or fliers or whatever else I want to put in there. It is an “if it fits, it ships” envelope and they don’t care what you put in it or how much it weighs, if it fits, it ships. 2. Automated mailing machine in the lobby. Find the nearest post office that has one of those machines in the lobby, and use THAT post office and go… Read more »

Jacki Moss
8 years ago

If you do a LOT of mailing, and don’t mind priority, go to the USPS website and look for mailing supplies. They offer a lot of supplies for free and even ship them for free. The downside is that they are all Priority Mail.

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