Mailing Your Books
Shipping books to readers and reviewers can be an expensive and unknown undertaking. Doing it the right way can save you tons of time and money! Check out this step-by-step guide to success from author Bink Cummings, who spent a decade running online stores and mastering the tricks of the postage trade.
Your Shopping List:
To ship your books in an efficient and inexpensive manner, you’ll need the following:
Printer (my favorite is the ink-free DYMO printer, which is perfect for shipping labels)
You’ll also need a PayPal account, set up in your author name (unless you want your personal name/address showing up on labels and invoices!). I set one up under my author email address, with my po box as the address, and the income hitting my business bank account.
How to Ship:
You’ll use PayPal to ship your labels. PayPal can handle media mail, first class, and priority—plus offers discounted rates, which you won’t get in the USPS online store!
To begin, log into your Paypal account and click Multiple Order Shipping (under Tools >> All Tools). If the person has paid for their item via PayPal, their information is already there, along with their shipping address. All you have to do is input the order’s weight and shipping method. Follow the two steps in the below image to get the right place for those entries.
If your order wasn’t paid for by PayPal, or you are sending a gift, prize or donation, you can manually input the addresses yourself, on the Multi-Order page.
When you fill out the form, the weight is easy (use that postage scale), but the Service and Package Type can be a bit of a head-scratcher.
Shipping Service and Package Type to Use:
This will be determined by two things: weight and contents. As an author, our contents are typically books - but sometimes we also need to ship T-shirts, mugs, keychains or other swag items. Below is a guide to help you make a decision. NOTE: There is a big difference between Padded Envelope and Padded Flat Rate Envelope. Padded envelope will be your own 8.5 x 11 envelope and is generally the cheapest way to go. Padded Flat Rate uses the post office’s envelope and will typically (but not always) be a little pricier.
If shipping 1 book (or light books) and your package is less than 13 ounces:
Choose First Class Mail. It is the fastest and cheapest option.
Use your own padded envelope.
Feel free to include any swag that will fit in the envelope and keep the weight below 13 ounces.
For me to mail a single book, I spend $3.28: DYMO label (8¢) + Bubble Mailer (28¢) + USPS Postage ($2.92).
If your package is heavier than 13 ounces:
If you only have books, stickers and bookmarks, ship media mail. While technically media mail is only for books, if you read the fine print about media shipping—if they inspect your box and find bookmarks, they charge an additional cost of whatever the items are that 'are not' media. They normally only inspect if their detector finds metal in the package. So don't be afraid to stick in those bookmarks and small stickers in with your book.
If you have books, with non-paper swag, ship PADDED FLAT RATE envelope. Padded envelopes/bubble mailers are fine to ship 2-3 books in. Don’t worry about denting, but if it stresses you out, double package them—you’ll still save money.
Avoid flat rate boxes if at all possible. They're often overpriced and should be used for fragile items only. If your items don’t fit in a padded envelope, ship your swag and books separately, or break your books into two orders.
Shipping a large order? Ship Media mail in your own box and keep the weight under 35 pounds.
International Shipping from USA:
If it’s under one pound, use a padded envelope and ship first class.
If it's between one pound and four pounds, ship padded flat rate. If not, the price can quickly become astronomical!
Are you a Canadian author shipping to the US? Try chitchats.com.
Printing your Labels:
PayPal will allow you to print your labels on stickers or you can print the labels on regular paper and then tape them to the envelopes. I like to save tape and ink and time and use a Dynmo printer (no ink) and its sticky labels.
Skip a Trip to the Post Office:
Once your packages are ready, you can request a free USPS pickup at your home. I normally just stack them on my front porch. If you prefer, you can drop the boxes off at your local post office.
That’s it! If you have any additional tips we may have missed, please post them in the Comments section!
About the Author: Bink Cummings was born and raised part of a biker/classic car addicted family. Upon coercion from her sacred sisters, she began her newest journey in life--writing. When she's not shacked up in her home writing sexy fiction at all hours of the night, Bink enjoys ogling motorcycles and the men who ride them, taking care of her family, reading spicy romance novels, feeding her sock and Funko addiction, and cooking huge meals--especially her infamous chocolate chip cookies. Find out more about Bink and her books on her website.