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The Perilous Pitfalls of Self-Publishing: Part 3 – Postage Predicaments

Well, I’ve got the books, sorted the packaging, so let’s head off to the post office…

My initial distribution run is going to be 20 books, split betwixt Europe, Hong Kong and Straya. For simplicity’s sake we’ll forget about Hong Kong (which is definitely not what China are doing). 10 to Europe, and 10 to Australia. Europe includes Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK. All slightly different prices, but not by much. I worked this out on the dysfunctional NZ Post website, and the prices were not insignificantly higher than what I had hoped for, although I think I suspected that, deep down in my jaded soul…

I remember back in the early 2000s when I could mail a CD to Europe from Australia for $2.40, and that’s been my mental yardstick for international postage ever since. So, $11.26 to Oz, $20.84 to Europe. Ouch. Readers of Part 2 will recall the cost price of book and packaging was $10.85, so that’s a total mailed book price of $22.11 to Oz, $31.69 to Europe. Double ouch. And that’s just to send as a freebie.

If I want to sell via my website – I have another 76 books here (again, see Part 2) – then I need to sell at a pretty steep price to make it worthwhile. Urgh. Have I found an alternative creative outlet to music that actually has less money in it than music? That’d be very on-brand. Anyway, the grand cost of sending these 20 books is a mighty $538.

Just out of interest, is the book on Book Depository yet? Why yes, here it is. There’s another story connected to this, but that will have to wait for another time, as it’s 10.47pm and I’m on my third glass of wine and the effects of the edible are wearing off. Nevertheless, it’s there, and you can buy the print book for $22.82. With free delivery. Anywhere in the world.

The ramifications of this slowly sink in, and include:

  • I can still sell it cheaper to Australia myself than Book Depository by $0.71 – but only if I basically forego profit.
  • They can send it to Europe $8.50 cheaper that I can, and that’s at my cost price. WTF?! How are THEY making money?
  • I could have just ordered copies for my friends direct from Book Depository. 20 copies would have cost $463, saving me $75.
  • Wait, if I’d bought them for Book Despotitory, I’d have got a royalty! I’m a little unclear on exactly how much, but early indicators would suggest I get around $5 per book for a trade sale. So I’d have saved $175, not $75.
  • If I’d realised this, I wouldn’t have had to buy any books for myself at all, saving myself $1,000 and a whole lot of drama.
  • Also a whole lot of drama that hasn’t even happened yet – keep reading.
  • Factor in all the jiffy bags that I wouldn’t have needed under Book Suppository Protocol and I would currently be a cool $1,300 better off, and have more room under my desk.
  • CONCLUSION – it has effectively cost me $1,300 to supply books to 20 friends, with a handwritten message in them, rather than an unsigned book. Finally my signature has worth. Unfortunately it’s me that has to fucking pay for it.

It’s a genuine worry that I’m running my own business now.

Also, Book Laboratory must have an insanely good deal with the world’s postage companies.

So, the drama that hasn’t happened yet happens next. I should probably have made this a separate installment to be honest. Still, in for a penny, in for a <checks notes> look, perhaps don’t look to me for financial advice or proverbs.

I pay a visit to the post office to collect some customs forms that must be laboriously filled in by hand for each book, and boy you’d better get it right cos the lady in the local Post Office is a little bit scary and does not suffer fools. But I’m ready to go! I spend a lovely evening writing messages in books, stuffing the books into bags, addressing the bags, and completing customs forms.

The next day I dash off to the Post Office with a spring in my stride, confident that the worst is over and wilfully ignoring the little voice inside that’s yelling MATE, THIS IS THE FUCKING POST OFFICE, EVERY TIME YOU USE THEM FOR ANYTHING ITS A FUCKING NIGHTMARE WAKE UP YOU FOOL.

Unbelievably, things don’t go smoothly. It transpires that the prices I got only apply if I log the delivery online, pay online, print out the label, affix it myself, and drop them into the post office. If I actually want the post office to simply take my money and my parcels, with no middleman, there will be a $5 charge. Per parcel. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. If I don’t want to suffer another $100 loss, then I must become a temporary unpaid online postal worker and book the parcels into the system myself like I fucking need this shit.

Oh good, I need to create an online post office account.

Jeez this system is infuriating. Who actually tested and passed this website before launching it? Oh I’ve just realised, now that I’m having to print my own labels, it was a complete waste of time manually addressing them all last night and filling out customs forms <deep breath>. Nevertheless, an hour later, I have entered parcel weights, dimensions, customs declarations and to and from addresses into the website and they’re all in my cart as 20 items, ready to be paid for. Yes!

All I’ll have to do now is enter my credit card details, print my labels, find a way of attaching said labels to some rather small parcels and drop them at the post office. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s surely the good light of the Lord welcoming me in open arms as I pass another harsh but fair test of life.

*Credit cards details entered. Submit payment.*

“I’m sorry, we are undergoing technical issues and your order cannot be processed at the moment”

Um, ooookay… *Credit cards details entered. Submit payment.*

“I’m sorry, we are undergoing technical issues and your order cannot be processed at the moment”

WHAT. *Return to cart. Credit card details entered. Submit payment.*

“I’m sorry, we are undergoing technical issues and your order cannot be processed at the moment”


*Return to cart.*

“I’m sorry, your cart is empty”

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