The cheapest and most effective way to mail books

In 2019 I launched my first book. Then in 2020 my second, and 2021 my third. They’re all part of a series called: The Turnaround Leadership Series.

One of the first things you realize when you publish a book is that you’re going to want to mail that sucker to some people. Maybe it’s your mom, your high school old coach, or business prospects, but you’ll quickly find that mailing a book isn’t as easy as Amazon makes it seem.

After a lot of trial and error, I believe I’ve found the easiest and cheapest way to mail a book (in the US).

Step 1: Get the supplies

Packaging: If your book is standard size, then you’ll want 8 1/2 x 11-inch bubble mailers. Here’s an example of 200 envelopes for $44 on Amazon that would work perfectly.

USPS Labels: The United States Post Office, for all of its…challenges…, is by far the cheapest way to mail a book. They have something called Media Mail (more on that below) and you’ll want to print the label at home. These adhesive shipping labels on Amazon are currently $12.99 for 200 labels.

Step 2: Buy your postage

This was the hardest part to get right. It didn’t take much research for me to realize that the cheapest way to mail a book (in the United States) is something called, Media Mail, and it’s only available through USPS. Unfortunately, there is no way to purchase Media Mail from the USPS.com website.

I spent countless hours taking stacks of packaged books to the Post Office to get the postage put on my books to mail them and let me tell you, that’s about as miserable as it sounds. And when you bring a dozen or more packages to mail, the people in line behind you suddenly focus their resentment for having to be at the Post Office on you.

But, eventually, I found a sneaky way to print Media Mail postage at home!

Paypal, somehow, has an option to ship with Media Mail. Head on over to https://paypal.shipstation.com/ and, after logging in, click “Create New Quick Label” at the top right. Fill in all of the information on the left and hit Submit. For reference, my packaged books have these specs: 11in x 9.5in x .75in and .8 lbs.

Under ‘Shipping Services’ on the right-hand side, you will see the shipping options populate, and at the top you will see an option for Media Mail. Currently, this costs $3.19.

After you ‘Purchase Label’ at the bottom, your confirmation page will give you the option to ‘Print Label’. Make sure your labels are in the printer and print away!

Step 3: Mail it!

Stick that label on your package, and you’re ready to go. You can then either schedule a pick-up with USPS or drop it off at your nearest Post Office. I personally prefer to drop them off in the dropbox at the Post Office rather than have them picked up, but to each his (or her) own.

That’s it. Seems simple, but it took me a while to figure this out, which is why I wrote this post, so you won’t have to.

Happy book-selling.