Pub Rants

Keeping FedEx in Shorts

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STATUS: Contracts and more contracts. Also got translation rights money today. Love those foreign publishers who like buying my authors and publishing them in fun countries like Japan.

What song is playing on the ipod right now? WICHITA LINEMAN by Glen Campbell

As you can tell, my little ipod is eclectic. I just put it on random scramble and whatever song happens to be playing as I start this blog is what gets posted. It just went from Glen Campbell to Gloria Gaynor. Even I think that’s a little strange. Yesterday, I swear it was stuck on the Pietasters—my husband’s favorite band, after CAKE that is. Now Matchbox Twenty just popped on because I keep getting interrupted while writing this blog.

I may be laboring under a misconception so you guys will have to set me straight.

I always think of aspiring writers as in need of funds. Even though I know many writers with great, well-paid jobs (and potentially make more money than I do in a year), I just think of them in terms of being “writing poor”—as in they don’t have a lot of extra money in the budget to spend on postage, paper, ink cartridges etc. and the costs of doing writing as a business.

It’s expensive to mail off a full—which is why I always ask for those electronically.

So I can’t understand the number of FedEx overnight partials I receive. Truly, the number is staggering.

Folks, I don’t even send contracts and money to my clients FedEx overnight—the most expensive option they have. Why in the world would a writer expend that type of money to mail in a partial request?

Do you think I’m going to read it the next day? Unlikely. It’s going into the partial inbox pile and as y’all know, Angie is more than likely going to give it first look and she only comes in on Mondays.

What I’m saying is that there is no need to rush me these pages. Now, there is a big need for me to get through them a little faster, no doubt, but there is no need for speed in terms of it reaching me in the first place.

The United States Post Office does just fine. It will only take 3-4 days—regardless of where you live in this country if you send it regular mail. And if you are worried about status, you can ask and pay for delivery notification. Or, you could include a postcard that says “received on” and we’ll mail it. Of course I might be optimistic on that point. We do try and mail them promptly.

FedEx isn’t going away any time soon. There’s no need to keep them in shorts.

27 Responses

  1. December Quinn said:

    I think there’s a misconception out there that it looks “more professional” to use FedEx. I don’t know why, but it’s one of those things you see every once in a while on amateur writing boards-usually something one of them heard, or “advice” given by someone who’s published a few articles in local papers or something.

    I admit to using Priority Mail in the past, because the envelopes are free right there at the post office-the extra cash was worth avoiding a trip across town to the Office Depot and then back to the post office. But I’d never bother with Fedex. (And never will again, after they lost my passport with visa after Hurricane Wilma-but that’s another story.)

  2. Becky Taylor said:

    Maybe it’s the appearance of professionalism but I would bet it’s more of a security issue. Or rather the feeling of security one gets when sending what can feel like a child out into the world.
    Writers are no less susceptible to the powers of marketing than the next person; FedEx spends a lot of money convincing the public that they are the fastest and most reliable thing going. Heck, after watching one of their commercials you almost believe you could actually send your child to grandma’s in one of their sturdy little boxes. Okay so I was threatening to send my child FedEx to my mother.

    The point is, I don’t think we the unpublished believe agents will read our pages faster, be more impressed, or be given any kind of preferential treatment. I’ve simply seen the guy that delivers mail to my house. His hours are irregular, he looks to have a drinking problem, and my neighbors and I have to reshuffle our envelopes every few days. I say, if you don’t have to scrounge around in your couch before buying postage, go ahead and purchase yourself a little security. It may be false, but that’s another issue.

  3. Chrysoula said:

    Yeah, I think a lot of people despise the Post Office. Though that doesn’t really explain FedEx overnight. Maybe people just don’t want to spend time wondering when it will arrive– they want to start biting their nails and angsting right away.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Sometimes FedEx is just easier for me. It’s worth the extra $ on busy days to include partials in with my non-writing business FedEx’s going out (the guy picks up at my door) than have to shlep to the Post Office and stand in line etc. Especially when it is really cold, snowy, rainy etc. outside.

  5. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    Excitement factors in too. A request for a partial can keep a writer (or me at least) floating for weeks. So when a request is made, the urge to rush down and get it there as fast as humanly possible is hard to contain.

  6. Anonymous said:

    I know personally, being in canada I’ve lost way too many partials and fulls into the bermuda triangle between here and the states. I think sending them Fed-Ex or even through Expresspost up here, it might be more money but at least its guaranteed to get there.

  7. Eileen said:

    Personally, I think the UPS guys are cuter than the Fed Ex boys. Maybe it’s the chocolate brown shorts. Perhaps by sending handsome men to the door to do the delivery you will be in the proper frame of mind when reading our work. We could stuff the package with liver treats for Chutney too…cover all the bases.

  8. M. G. Tarquini said:

    Priority mail is 4 bucks and 8 bucks, depending if you use the envelope or the box, Good for partials and fulls.

    For partials, one you’re past 30 pages or so, the cost of sending is close to priority mail. Agents who require 50 pages with a query are going to receive it in a priority mail envelope, because the cost is close to regular first-class.

    Overnight Fed-ex? Only if the agent asked for it that way because s/he wanted to read the thing and get back to you before s/he headed to a Tibetan monastery for six months meditation.

    Nawww…even then, who wants an agent who’s going to disappear for six months?

  9. Anonymous said:

    The priority mail envelopes are convenient and it’s not that expensive. Add on delivery confirmation for sixty cents. It’s just the easiest method in my opinion. I wouldn’t bother with FedEx – which would be more expensive and personally less convenient for me.

  10. Laine Morgan said:

    I send mine Priority Mail because the Tyvek envelopes are right there at the post office. It’s just easier. I’ve never sent a FedEx overnight, though I suppose some authors do because they think it’ll shorten the wait.

  11. Elektra said:

    My post office hates me, and so I have to use those bubble-protected brown envelope things you can get anywhere (read: Wal-Mart).

    Is there any stigma attached to those? Am I sending ‘unprofessional’ signals left and right?

  12. Mars said:

    I definitely second the Canada post comment. I always spend the few extra bucks for Canada Express for that tracking number. It’s no big deal.

  13. Anonymous said:

    I am out of the continental United States and the post office is problematic here (at the best of times). With priority mail I have had a partial take two weeks to arrive…no explaination.
    I am serious about my writing career and invest in it the same as I would any other profession.
    While overnight fedex seems a bit extreme (and not available where I am located) 2 and 3 day fedex with tracking has given me a measure of assurance that not only has my partial or full arrived – it is not mutilated beyond readability (also something that has happened to me).
    There seems to be a fine line we writers walk. Either we are blatently ill-prepared and amateur or we are anal-retentive and obsessive spend thrifts…Alas…

  14. Dana Y. T. Lin said:

    I have no clue. I have my assistant – achem, hubby – send my stuff for me. Hubs is by far better at math than I. I trust him to send out my stuff in a timely manner. Of course, there was that ONE incident during our 3rd year wedding anniversary in which I found those stacks of thank you cards for out wedding gifts stuffed inside the golve compartment of his car.

    I’ve now asked him to give me the receipts after he’s mailed something for me.

    Ya’ can’t find good help these days.

  15. Penny Dawn said:

    I don’t think I’ve ever sent anything FedEx, let alone overnight. But perhaps the hassle of visiting the post office has something to do with it. Every time I go to the USPS, it’s a 20 minute wait, minimum. Even if I’m second in line. There are days when the line is out the door. I’m in for an hour those days. I discovered the UPS store when I had children (I definitely don’t want to wait in line with impatient little ones for company.) As for overnight shipments, I agree with Becca. Maybe excitement causes people to splurge. I’d probably keep a receipt that large for tax deduction, and hey, it’s a nice souvenir. Picture it framed on a wall: “Ah, yes. That was when Kristin Nelson asked for my full.”

  16. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said:

    I really should read what I type before I hit the post button.

    This will make more sense, I hope:

    The few times I sent off a full manuscript, it went media mail. After a bad experience with the postal service, I now insure for the minimal amount. The recipient doesn’t have to sign, and the insurance makes the post office exercise due care. I learned to buy tracking too. Still, that’s not more than 4.50 for a mss that’s fewer than 400 pages.

    Just pack the thing in a nice clean brown manila envelope. Don’t use so much tape it’s impossible to open.

    That’s my advice for what it’s worth. Anything else is a waste of money.

  17. Bandit said:

    Pardon my quirky blogger identity…I don’t have another for more serious pursuits 😉

    I’ve been reading some “How To Write a Query Letter” etc books, and a number of them have said to spring for the FedEx overnight. So that may be where this phenomenon is coming from.

  18. pennyoz said:

    Kristin if the majority of the senders are romance writers then there might be a strong suspicion of an ulterior motive.
    Object matrimony.
    Men in uniforms?

  19. Lady M said:

    Pennyoz – LMAO – you’re a riot.

    Kristen. To me, when I sent my work in via some express service, it was under the misconception that I was behind schedule, because I had vacationed for a little while – therefore, I did not wish to have you waiting on me.

    Of course, I was totally in the NOT-KNOWING group and had no clue.

    (I still have no clue, but I’m able to surmise a bit better.)

    For me, it was not wanting to throw your schedule out of whack, if you were expecting me, personally to have something delivered on time.

    I suppose that is because of the types of jobs I’ve always held… If you agree to something you get it done. And because of the lateness of my getting the request – I thought that you had been impatiently tapping your foot, waiting on me… and I was causing a problem for you.

    Now… I know that I am one of hundreds – if not thousands. And most agents won’t remember me in any way, shape or form. *sigh*…

    And I have also learned that time moves at a different pace for those involved with the industry.

    So – would I have sent it again in an expensive parcel? No.

    I thank you for teaching us writers, what is expected of us – so that we may deliver appropriately. You, Miss Snark, Anna, Nadia and others who are taking the time to do so…

    You’re saving us money on the workshops – making mistakes and we’re gobbling it up.

    Lady M

  20. Anita Daher said:

    I agree with comments re Canada Post re tracking and security. Also, using Purolator is sometimes less expensive than Express Post, or Canada Post regular, depending on the weight of your manuscript, and where you are mailing from.

  21. Anita Daher said:

    I agree with comments re Canada Post re tracking and security. Also, using Purolator is sometimes less expensive than Express Post, or Canada Post regular, depending on the weight of your manuscript, and where you are mailing from.

  22. Anonymous said:

    You are over-estimating the efficiency of the US Post Office. I live in a rural area, northern middle US. Two regular mail communications from my agent in California took 10 days and 14 days, respectively, and revisions from my editor in NY never arrived after a two week wait. She FedExed them after a lot of misunderstanding on both parts. I’ve given up on the US Mail for professional communications because my experiences so far have made me look anything BUT. And yes, I’m writer-poor, but tired of looking unprofessional–it’s worth the price to me.

  23. Cindy Procter-King said:

    I use Express Mail from Canada, because it’s traceable and lets me know when the package is received. But I’m mailing from another country. And it’s nowhere near as expensive as a courier.


  24. davidrslayton said:

    I have to hold up my hand and admit my guilt. I’m one of the above. But I have my reasons. The first is that I don’t drive as a rule. It’s simply easier to use Fedex at work with the discount they offer employees than taking the bus to the post office during their opening hours. I have to admit though, the downtown Denver postoffice is a block from Kinko’s/Fedex and perhaps the best underground secret on the 16th Street mall.