Five Things I Learned about Bulk Shipments

Dear Reader,

Bulk shipments are any small business owner’s nightmare if not done properly. When Haunting Miss Trentwood was released, I handled shipping orders of multiple copies to thirty people, and boy was that a learning experience. Here are five things I learned-while-doing that might benefit you.

1. Don’t buy packaging from the post office.

The first 75% of the packages were sent with ReadyPost packaging which ate a lot more money than I expected, sadly. Props to my mother for shaking her head at me and mentioning that I can get bubble mailers from the dollar store for 36% the price I was paying.

2. Do make mailing labels!

One day I shipped fifteen packages, each with signature copies, personalized notes, and handwritten addressing. My fingers ached for a week after. I went home and printed off mailing labels with the Bright Bird Press logo for the last two shipments and I’m so happy I did.

3. Media mail is your friend.

Media mail is the cheapest way to ship any sort of media, which means it must be a book, CD, DVD, etc. The shipment cannot include anything other than media, so the soaps meant half of the packages couldn’t be the cost-effective shipment method I assumed I could use. When soap is included, parcel post is your friend.

4. Be organized at the post office.

I know my visits could have been far more stressful than they were had I not been so organized. When I was buying the packaging from the post office, I would arrive with my supplies, all covered in post-its so I knew what materials went to whom. Don’t do that. It’s really tiring. Instead, buy packaging as mentioned in #1, get everything ready for the post office, and then arrive with your shipment organized by shipping method.

“This batch is media mail. This batch is parcel post. No, I do not need confirmation. Yes, this is all on one card. Why yes, I have done this before, how can you tell?”

5. Keep your receipts!

This is a small business, so I have a separate account just for purchases. I need to keep all my receipts so I can mark out what was shipping, what was packaging, what was materials and products, etc. I have spreadsheets at home that I need to fill out so I have an actual record of everything.

Do you have any additional tips that people should keep in mind if they are shipping out physical books or swag?

8 thoughts on “Five Things I Learned about Bulk Shipments

  1. All very practical and accurate. I would add that I frequently use Flat Rate Priorty Mail for sending 1 or 2 books at a time. But then that's not bulk mailing, is it? Good advice all around.

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    1. Thanks John! The thing is if you are JUST sending books, media mail is the cheapest way to go. It won't take much longer than priority flat rate mail. I've been pleasantly surprised by how quickly people receive the books using this rate.

      You also don't have to buy the special priority packaging, which saves even more money.

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  2. I had a giveaway that ended 12/18 and stupidly I decided to send out books to the winners on the Saturday before Christmas. Madhouse! I learned that you can't get the media rate on the little package kiosk. (At least I couldn't figure out how to do so).

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    1. So true, you can't get the media rate on the little package kiosk. I also tried and failed. At one point, when I sent out 17 packages (yes, SEVENTEEN), I felt so bad for everyone waiting in line behind me. I apologized a couple of times and finally an elderly man waved his hand at me, saying, "Stop apologizing, you're keeping the post office in business! Someone's gotta do it!"

      Everyone in line agreed, and actually thanked me for being organized with my packages. I had organized them by the different rates and sizes, so all the clerk had to do was weigh them, slap a sticker on, and put them away.

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    1. I just found out about Uline through a friend… a bit too late for my purposes as I won't be distributing print copies anymore (leaving that to Amazon), but I do wish I'd found out about it sooner!

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