Monday, June 20, 2016

The Lowdown on Mailing Internationally

One of my most awesome blogging friends pointed out that my giveaway isn't open to anyone outside of the U.S. I feel so bad about that...and if I do one for just my bloggy friends, I will for sure open it internationally. But I thought it was important to explain why.

With my first book, I did international giveaways. Why not? Having news of your book spread across the globe is huge.



Of course, mailing a book internationally can be expensive. I'm sure that's why many people don't do it, but that's not my reason. I'll pay $10 or more for my friends to be able to enter.

For Americans, the issue with international shipping can be summed up in one picture. It's this:




So you're standing in line at the post office, waiting your turn. There's a line like that ^^^ behind you. You step up to the counter and hand the clerk the form you spent five minutes filling out:



Your form is 100 percent ready, so you should be able to just step up to the counter, wait for your item to be weighed, and pay your money, right?



This is how it really works. You step up there, hand over everything, and they weigh. Then they start typing. They have to type everything on that form. Your address, the recipient's address... And guess how they type? Yep, you've got it.



And then they mess up and have to start over. A guy once had to start over on my item three times. Meanwhile, the line behind you is all:



You seriously can hear grunts and sighs. Sometimes you'll even hear a, "REALLY?" Americans don't wait. This is us:



If the post office wants a boost in income, how about investing in a scanner that can capture the information on the form? That would keep people like me from equating international shipping to this experience:



Oh, that's right, that would mean moving into the 21st century. I'm pretty sure their software looks something like this:



Meanwhile, if anyone knows of a reasonably affordable way to ship internationally without feeling like you're being punished for some past-life transgression, let me know!

If you live in the U.S., be sure to enter my Goodreads giveaway for an advance copy of Piper Morgan Joins the Circus. Enter below!




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Piper Morgan Joins the Circus by Stephanie Faris

Piper Morgan Joins the Circus

by Stephanie Faris

Giveaway ends June 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

59 comments:

  1. That adds a new level of horror to the experience. It's like going to the DMV. Where sloths work.
    It's still almost twenty bucks to mail a book to England. That's more than most books are worth.

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    1. Yeah--shipping my books internationally does usually cost more than the book itself. It depends where it's going. But every time I do a giveaway I feel guilty when someone points out that they're left out of it.

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  2. What is that picture from "The Simpsons"? It's ben so long since I've watched them.
    And I'm sorry that I don't know much about shipping internationally, as I have not had to send something to another country.

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    1. It's supposed to be that she's about to get her teeth drilled...which is usually my terminology for things I don't want to do. I'd rather get my teeth drilled, for instance, then stand there waiting for some dead-inside postal employee to slowly type in information while the people in line behind me shoot invisible daggers at my back.

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  3. Mailing internationally is terribly expensive. I had a friend in Malaysia who got me on a seesaw of sending gifts. I had to ask her to stop because the postage cost more than the gifts at times.

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    1. It is...and it's gotten WAY more expensive in the past decade. I'm not sure if people realize how much authors have to pay to ship books internationally in giveaways. Most of us are trying to stretch our marketing budgets as far as possible, so paying $10-$20 per book is crazy when we could better put that toward mailing bookmarks to seven or eight schools or libraries and get more traction.

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  4. Oh boy. I wouldn't want to take that much time on a giveaway either. Good thing there is the eBook option in many cases.

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    1. That does work well for self-pubbed authors and those with smaller presses. I think most of those who write for traditional publishers have to point people to Edelweiss or a site like that for the epub option. But I definitely encourage you guys to ask for any of my books on those sites! The publisher handles that part of it...I don't have authorization to give free epub versions of my books out.

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  5. The last time I offered an international contest and mailed one of my Eighth Day calendars to someone in the Netherlands, something I put on that form caused the Dutch post office to charge the recipient $27 worth of taxes. Soooo, not only did I overpay to send it, she triple-overpaid to wrest it from the hands of the postal service. I was really embarrassed.

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    1. Ugh! There just are so many variables that you can't control once it goes overseas. And in that case, it hurt the recipient more than you...so by limiting it to the States next time, you could be protecting someone from having to go through that. I remember pre-9/11, you could ship things overseas and it cost a slight bit more, but it was really no big deal. You didn't even have to put the address on the customs form. You just put on there that it was a gift, handed it over, and it was in the mail for $5 or so. Then 9/11 happened and it seems to become more of a massive PITA with each year that passes!

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  6. Yep, it's that bad. That bad. It is a government agency though and you can't expect them to have their ducks lined up in a row.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Preach it! I worked for state government for 19 years...that's why I don't battle them. I just work around them. FedEx has kinda gone bad, too. They just drop my package by my garage door, directly in the rain. UPS takes it to the front door and puts plastic around it. Every package that came from FedEx at Christmas took weeks to get here--UPS and even USPS were here within a day or two. So I won't use FedEx to ship, but I don't always know that an item I order is going to be shipped that way, sadly.

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  7. you made me chuckle on a Monday. It does seem like it just shouldn't be that hard to process an international package. I guess that's why you have to treat folks to e-book, but paper is so much more fun. Oh well - that's life

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    1. LOL, yeah, I can't speak for all traditionally-published authors, but my publisher doesn't hand the author an ebook version to send out. That would be nice! I'd give a copy to all of you, for sure. I do see smaller publishers doing that and I think that's great. You'd have to get mine through a site like Edelweiss and they look to make sure everyone requesting a book is a "professional reviewer," whatever that requires!

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  8. This is so interesting! I always wondered why some giveaways are only open in the States. It's a shame they make things so complicated. Cheers - Ellen

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    1. At this point, I'm so frustrated with big corporations and government agencies, I'm ready to just buy everything from small businesses and Amazon!

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  9. I've sent internationally once, and oof! Pricey. A lot of times I see ppl doing international giveaways thru the Book Depository. Would it be worth the money to just buy it from them and let them send it? Not sure how that would equate w/you probably sending a book that you already own (assuming these are author copies you're giving away)...But just a thought! =)

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    1. Leandra, that's a thought! Let them deal with all the crud. I just asked the woman at the post office this morning how I could mail 40 packages later this summer. She said just come at a good time. I just didn't want to have to stand there while they weighed and stamped 40 packages. I thought maybe I could just drop it off and they'd send me a bill. Silly me!

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  10. I was at the UPS store the other day and someone called into the store and asked how much it would cost to ship a 22"x26"x32" box to Honduras and the clerk goes, "Um, how much does it weigh?" The look on the clerks face was so funny, but she goes, "Eight hundred pounds!!?"

    :D

    Yeah, no lie.

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    1. YIKES! I do like the service at the UPS Store, though. That's where you go if you need to send an Amazon package back. They're always so polite and the process is just SO seamless.

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  11. Lol. You are too funny. I love your pictures and your candor! :) It's a shame it's such a horrible process (not to mention expensive!) to ship internationally.

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    1. And am I the only one who just says, "No" when it's complicated. I just find another way. I don't even bother trying to complain anymore. Life's just too short to deal with stuff like that!

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  12. I luckily never have to do deal with it.

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    1. Yeah, I had to ship something internationally earlier this year because someone in England asked for some bookmarks for an event. I mean, how can you turn that down? I got to the post office and groaned when I remembered what I was about to have to go through!

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  13. I never realized the problems with sending overseas. It seems sometimes the more modern we get as a nation, the further behind we get on being about to do simple things like send a package in the mail without having to spend half the day in line and the other half of the day at the counter with the clerk.

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    1. I know, right? I think it's that we expect everyone to have updated computer systems and easy ways to do things. So when we get to an antiquated system like the postal service, we're more aware of it. I think it's our national paranoia. They now track every package that goes in and out of the US by address, I assume? Which is why they need to type all that in?

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  14. Yeah, when I did giveaways in the past internationally, it cost so much to send it overseas. It really does suck!

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    1. WAY too expensive. People don't even realize it! It seems to get more expensive every time I do it. My marketing budget is limited, so I hate to ship one thing to one person when I could have put that postage toward a mailing to four or five (or more) different people/places.

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  15. I swear our local post office likes have only ONE clerk during lunch hours when everyone comes in to mail their packages. My issue with shipping internationally is writing the address down correctly, and I actually have stopped international giveaways because the last time I tried to mail a book I got it back TWICE over the course of TWO years. I had to give up because the cost each time was 25$ and as much as I wanted the blogger to have the book, I had to admit there was something wrong with her address (I verified it with her too) and she just wasn't getting the book.

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    1. I will say that when we left Nashville and moved outside of the city, I noticed a DRAMATIC difference in the postal service. The post offices in the suburbs and in rural areas are so much more polite and, yeah, better staffed during busy times. The woman who worked at the one when we lived in Nashville moved SOOOO slowly and the line would be going out the door. She seemed dead inside. You go to the ones around here and the clerks smile and make conversation and actually seem to be enjoying their day.

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  16. Imagine if the computers go down...so not good. I spend hours one day just trying to pick up some certified mail.

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    1. LOL, that would be mad for sure. We tried to pick up our dry cleaning Saturday and neither of our credit cards would work--they were "declined." Yet they worked five minutes earlier and have been working everywhere since. I tried to tell the guy it was his machine...he wouldn't believe us. I wonder how many credit cards were declined before he finally figured out YEAH, it's him! Now I have to go get cash before I can visit the place again in case he still doesn't have it together.

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  17. Thanks for a true look at the postal service for overseas mail. That's one reason why I don't send books to other countries, or very rarely too. Too much hassle as well as expensive. You gave me a good laugh today, always welcome.

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    1. Everyone needs a laugh on Monday!

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  18. Oh this was funny! And sadly, true. Shipping is definitely a deterrent. Now, digital alleviates a lot that, but some folks (like me) still appreciate the feel of a book in their hands.

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    1. Unfortunately, digital isn't an option for giveaways with many larger publishers. There may be some that give e-versions of their ARCs out, but most of the authors I've met don't have that option. We just have to point everyone to a site like Edelweiss, which is where the publisher puts those ARCs for reviewers to request.

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  19. And I thought our postal system was bad. Well it is. Not as bad as that, but not good. And super expensive.

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    1. Ours is pretty expensive. I paid $3 to mail 20 bookmarks to a kid this morning in a lightweight mailer.

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  20. That is *hilarious.* I feel your pain on both the expense and the waiting involved in shipping internationally. The best I can suggest is to somehow be available at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. My post office isn't very busy at that time . . .at least during the few weeks a year that I can go at that time.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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    1. LOL, that's a great tip! I was there today at around 9 a.m. and I made a comment that this must be a great time. She said not at all usually. She said it's more about the time of the month with the post office...avoid the first week of the month, was her advice. I'm not sure why? I know at some post offices it's the time when people without bank accounts are getting money orders to pay bills, but I don't see much of that going on at my post office, so I'm not sure why more people would mail the first week of the month.

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  21. Wow...it is seriously not worth it!

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  22. And the post office wonders why more and more people use the Internet to send stuff. They have to change their snail style or they will really lose out which is a shame because I still mail things like my cards

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    1. They don't really seem to care. It's like Sears...I learned how little they care about customers recently when I had to deal with them (for the last time ever in my entire life). When your company/government agency is on the decline and you just shrug your shoulders and provide WORSE customer service, how is that a plan? I don't understand.

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  23. I agree that mailing things internationally can be tricky. The last time I had to mail books internationally it went okay- but that is because I somehow got to the post office 5 minutes before they closed, waited in line, no one was after me, and they moved me along VERY quickly. :)

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    1. If you're lucky enough to get a fast typist, it isn't too bad. I did mail something internationally once and the guy didn't have to enter the addresses into the computer. He seemed just as perplexed as I was!

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  24. A scanner would be great! I hate standing there while they type everything I just wrote out.

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    1. Thank you! It's just awkward. What are we supposed to do while they're looking for the "K" key for 20 minutes?

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  25. I wish you could use my neighborhood post office. Even when the line is long, it moves quickly. Everyone there is efficient and polite. Perhaps there is hope for the world.

    Love,
    Janie

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  26. The only time I experienced something like that was when I stopped at the post office around 7:30a. Unfortunately, that person was the first in line. Only one clerk was on, and they were even slower than the example that you gave.

    Father Nature's Corner

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  27. A scanner would be great, or a kiosk to let us do it ourselves, but yeah, it can take a while. Thankfully there's a small post office on campus that I use and they are amazing! Super helpful and always efficient.

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  28. I've never had this experience. When I did my giveaway, I think I only did US and Canada.

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  29. I had no idea the US postal service was so crazy! Everything is pretty quick here in New Zealand, but because we're so far away, mailing stuff internationally can be expensive!

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  30. I say gift it through Amazon. I'm lazy that way. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  31. Amazon gifting seems like a great idea.

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  32. I did it through Book Depository. Its shipping free worldwide.

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  33. Alex brought back some funny memories of going to the DMV in large cities, and it's not pretty! (lol) Thank goodness, I've never run into this problem, because it sure sounds like a HUGE headache. Every year, I send Christmas cards to 2 author friends in Canada, so all I need is a stamp. (lol) Hugs...

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  34. I've been there, especially when giving away signed books and swag. These days, I'll send out unsigned books via Amazon or the Book Depository across the globe so I avoid the post office.

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  35. I thought I commented on this, but I guess I didn't.
    Though I don't ship internationally, I do tend to get things from overseas from time to time. I've sent package domestically, and that is a nightmare enough.

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