Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Writers Guide to Shipping and Media Rates

If you’re a writer like me, you’re also an avid reader. And while this may not be news to you, I was surprised to learn that I could mail books to my friends at a media rate. It’s a lot cheaper than standard mail. In fact, media mail is one of the least expensive ways to use to ship books and manuscripts. These media rates are often the very lowest of all shipping rates. Other types of media rates for shipping books and manuscripts quicker include overnight mail, first class mail, certified mail, and registered mail with return receipt requested. An author should never ship the only copy of a manuscript anywhere, obviously. Always make at least one photocopy to save in case the shipped version gets lost or damaged during transit. Is anyone else surprised that so many publishers still ask for snail mail submissions? I marvel at this.

As I went about mailing my first manuscript submission I began thinking of the life cycle of a book from idea to finished manuscript to published book. It is a long and involved one. But any writer with enough determination and dedication can achieve the dream of having a book published.

The Idea

The aspiring author first decides what the idea or concept of the book. Then the hardest part begins: the writing. Only after the complete novel is done, does the idea get shrunk to a one page written synopsis or query, which will eventually be submitted to prospective book publishers or literary agents. The nonfiction author can sell his book idea based solely on the contents of the book proposal.

The Book Proposal or Query

The book proposal includes writing sections on what the specific audience for the book is, how to best promote and market it, the synopsis, an author bio, one to three sample chapters, along with a self addressed stamped envelope, aka a SASE. The query, on the other hand, is a pitch letter for the novel which includes the flavor or voice of the story you’re pitching. But either way, this is the beginning of the book’s journey.

Researching the Prospective Markets

There are many print and online writing market directories where authors can perform due diligence on potential publishing houses or literary agents to see which specific books they handle. Study these markets well and avoid wasting postage, effort, and time!

Sending the Finished Manuscript Out

When a query attracts the attention of an agent or publisher, congratulations! It’s time to send on the full manuscript. Manuscripts should be mailed out in securely wrapped and sealed packages using media mailing and shipping rates. Hopefully the next step in the mailing process will be signing and sending a contract to work with an agent or editor. Certified mail will now be your bestie!

Waiting for A Publication Contract

A nonfiction book author has to wait until his book proposal is evaluated before a publication contract will arrive in the mail. A fiction manuscript writer has to wait until his entire novel is evaluated and accepted for publication before an official contract will be sent to him.

Waiting for the Book to Come Out

After the contract is received; it takes about a year for the fiction writer to see a novel make it to print. The nonfiction writer has to first finish writing the entire manuscript, and about the same year wait is necessary before that book is for sale online and in the bookstores. The ARCs and then the final books will then be shipped not only to you, but reviewers, libraries, and finally the general public. I don’t know about you, but for me receiving my own book at my doorstep will be the most amazing package ever to arrive.

Jody Sparks is working her way toward becoming a published author. She's also an avid reader and blogger.

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