Send your products by UPS, Fedex, or USPS?

(We had several newsletter-related questions about which shipping carriers we use. Here’s a quick reply.)

One thing hasn’t changed since I started mailing out products in the early 80s: I hate it when others grossly overcharge, or overcharge at all, and I simply vowed not to do it.

So the issue has been less the cost (we try to charge what it costs us, with about 25 cents more for the labor and stamping, and not worry if we lose a few cents in the process) than it is to pick the best service.

Actually, we give the buyer these choices: media mail (USPS) or priority mail (USPS)—plus UPS or Fedex if they select it and pay the cost. If we get oversea orders, we tell them the actual cost by email, then send it according to their choice. Overseas shipping is paid in advance by credit card.

All of that refers to single orders. For multiples, we add just figure out the amount (if it’s more than $1 more) and charge them.

And when they order through 1 Shopping Cart, our process charger, that adds $3.50 for media mail and $5 for priority mail (with small increments for multiples) to the credit card order.

What about large shipments to resellers? Again, they tell us. Most have UPS accounts so we send it collect. Most of the rest use media mail—and we all hold our breath. We mail orders by media mail.

Our experiences with the three? Oddly, the Bank of America just did a test (on 11/24 on AOL), with results that were almost identical to what we’ve found. There, USPS cost about 40% of what the other two cost; UPS and Fedex had virtually identical rates. They gave a wee nod to Fedex over UPS.

But Fedex doesn’t have a local six-day or ground pick-up in any of the boxes (nor any office) in Novato, CA, so the only time I see them is when somebody else sends me express or overnight delivery that way. If folks ask for Fedex, I explain this, then send it by UPS.

UPS has been the most reliable workhorse, without a damaged delivery either way so far. Only once did a box come back though the address was correct. They apologized and rushed it right back to the patient recipient. There are five local delivery stores, one nearby, and they will pick up too. Best of all, they will leave deliveries by the door out of the rain if we ask. We have an account so we prep and label here. Almost all deliveries are sent 6-day ground. Couldn’t be easier. But it isn’t free, and the prices just keep rising.

The Post Office is the most irksome for package shipping—but the price is far better. It’s said that they hate boxes (ours particularly since they usually weigh 42 pounds). That’s precisely how they treat them: almost always dropping (denting) them along the way, with the box broken about 15% of the time. Three times contents were missing (5-16 books); once a complete box disappeared.

Then it stopped when we put a green 80-cent tracer on each parcel and wrapped each box with twice as much double-strength tape. We’re not sure if it’s coincidence, they fell in love with our boxes, or our loud and insistent complaints got attention.

What they think of media mail can be seen by the fact they won’t let you use it in the automatic stamping machinery in the lobbies.

Incidentally, we have no postage meter or in-office apparatus for U.S. postage. We just use stamps, so we keep a box of weird assortments that we add to every few months.

USPS delivery time is in the hands of the gods, but often mainland U.S. deliveries arrive the same time that UPS does, once or twice earlier, and never that I know of longer than 10 days. We warn the person choosing media mail, and ask them to email us if there are any problems or it isn’t there in 10 days.

Since 95% of what we send are books, those are always shrink-wrapped. That cuts the returns for damaged contents to almost nothing. A few books a year, which I give away at seminars or to the library.

The last observation is that while the costs are high and always rising, delivery has been less a problem the past two or three years than at any previous time. A lot of that comes from the fact that half of our deliveries now are electronic downloads. If we could just get that to 100%…

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. If you’re not getting our free newsletter, this is the sort of thing I discuss related to publishing, writing, speaking, and product development. It’s usually a bit more exciting!

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5 ways to publish your own book…

I’m just finishing a longer article about this for my 12/1 newsletter, but here are the five ways to publish your book at present:

(1) Let the big houses do it for you. It’s gone from first to last choice. I like Mike Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal if this is where you are headed.

(2) The usual self-publishing, probably by P.O.D., then a larger rotary run. Both Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual and John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book are best here–use the most recent editions of each.

(3) Highest profit with lowest risk is niche self-publishing. My book Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time! will step you through this. Empire building is best done this way.

(4) You can e-book publish only, but there aren’t many buyers on this road yet. The best book here is Bob Bly’s Write Ebooks for Fun and Profit.

(5) The newest way–to publish 10 ways in less than 30 days, free–is ancillary publishing. Almost any kind of book is acceptable. See for details.

I keep you current about all five publishing paths at my free monthly newsletter.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Need help writing your ancillary publishing book?

My just-finished 140-minute, two audio CD program called “Writing Your Book for Ancillary Publishing” was released this morning. The family dogs were unimpressed!

Nonetheless, the 22-step process should help lots of new and experienced publishers get their words in print in hours or days after they submit their key text and cover files to the seven key ancillary publishers.

Here are three sources about the process and the program:

* the most direct is at It lists most of the contents, tells what ancillary publishing is about, and how anybody who can write a book can take part FREE. The book topic? The whole range from novels to crusty non-fiction, memoirs, family trees, cookbooks, poetry, almost anything really. Hard to beat a price of $0 for producing and marketing your book. But you have to write the damn thing first.

* my last post here tells a bit about one suggestion I make regarding the writing, that you read five books as close to the book you want to write. That’s not a stop sign to read the library instead of writing. Do both at the same time! Just see what I say.

* I also sent out a newsletter to the frothing millions an hour ago also telling them of the new program: see it at or, if you are afraid of free subscription without strings, see

That’s it. It’s no-nonsense and it shows you, step-by-step, the quickest process I know about book writing. (I wrote 38 that were published.) 

Now if I can just get those dogs more impressed. I told them it was $5 off if they bought it before 12/15 but that was just as successful as trying to feed them a brick.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Read five books before you write yours…

I’m writing the script for an audio CD about “Ancillary Publishing: Writing Your Own Book.”

You might want to know why I suggest you read five books identical or very similar to the book you are about to write. This is slightly paraphrased from the program due to appear by November 15:

“Yes, you’re going to have to read them, twice each—don’t panic. But you must continue creating your own book at the same time. This isn’t a free pass to stop writing while you finish reading the town library!

Yes, I know, your book is unique, singular, unmatched, so… Yeh, yeh, humor me. If you’re smart enough to write a book you’re smart enough not to reinvent the wheel.

You’re going to read those books because you’re going to steal anything of convertible worth in them. They are your opposition, your worth weigher, the standard that others will hold you to. You aren’t going to simply mimic and replicate them, but to the degree that your book is different, when you differ from them it will be by choice, not from ignorance.

Put the book most like yours on top and start there.

The first time through you are going to see what working question that book answers. It will almost always be stated in the introduction or first chapter. Then you’re going to clarify how the table of contents creates that fulfillment path. Write down every illustration or reference; why is it there? What does it support? See how long the chapters and sections are. Study the foreword, contents page(s), blank page insertions, index, glossary, product page, biography. How many quotes from others are included, how many anecdotes? Are there footnotes? How are successive referrals addressed (Dr. Tom Jones, Sr. Jones, Jones, Tom, etc.)?

On the second pass you will read the book, start to finish, to feel the style of writing, the flow, the amount and kind of humor, the paragraph lengths—anything that will enrich your sense of how this kind of book is skillfully written.

By the time you have read five (or three or eight) books like yours, you will know what you have to do to write a book that will bring you, and those near you, proper pride—and will attract eager buyers for every book you write later….

Check the new URL at for the availability of this audio CD program, plus its soon-to-follow companion called “Ancillary Publishing: Publishing and Marketing Your Own Book.”

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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A query letter golden rule…

I was reading a query letter for a tour piece for on Saturday that reminded me of a “golden rule” of querying that I heard probably 20 years ago. It’s more golden now than ever before:

Show the editor why your information is needed on his/her pages–and that you can write to that level!

The query I read told me ad nauseum how great the writer was, how much she liked her topic, why she should write about it, how much she should be paid, and (in case I missed it) how great she was, so great she had been in print 20 times!

Except that she couldn’t spell (yes, it still counts), the two-page query contained seven sentences (two, short), and, other than that she wanted to tell me about a city in Europe, she failed to tell me (just a clue would have helped) what was unique about that city–or if she had ever been there, or when.

It wasn’t a gender issue. It was a “no thank you” issue.

Put yourself in the editor’s shoes: Usually he or she must fill an issue every month with, say, eight articles. Each article must have some “wow” element to it, and it has to be legit. It can’t simply be a rehash of recent articles in that publication. It must be timely (skiing doesn’t work in May). The only thing the editor has by which to judge the supplicant’s writing is, well, their query letter writing. If it stinks, why would the editor expect anything better later? And why would the readers care a whit if the querier in a wonderful person? From the editor’s perspective, that’s probably better than a raving maniac, but it all centers on the copy and pix they will submit–and when.

You get the idea: it’s a sales letter. Keep it focused, honest, humorous if the copy will be humorous, and show a glint of the “wow,” if possible. Also, if it needs quotes from real authorities, who will be interviewed?

You get the idea. And if you don’t, it’s going to be uphill getting go-aheads (much less real assignments). We need to print what writers have to say–but they almost always get rejected for dumb reasons. Simply, the winners figure it out before they lose heart.

I hope this helps a bit.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett 

P.S. Take a look at my free newsletter if publishing or getting in print is your hope. It’s doable. Mostly, it’s process, although enjoying the wordsmithing makes it a lot more fun!

Incidentally, I’ve got a report with 20 professional queries and five cover letters in it. $10 in digital format. See the order form  for immediate download. (I wrote the first book about query letters, in the early 1980s, then a big seller, Query and Cover Letters, now O.P. More bragging and I’ll sound like my query letter writer.)

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Welcome to our new address!

For 50 posts we hid at

We now have an easier-to-find home at Still brought to you by Word Press; great group at a greater price! (The earlier 50 posts are here too.)

We’re looking forward to doing more blogging and, we hope, getting to know you better.

The free monthly newsletter is at the same old stand, though: (for information), to subscribe and, yes, get three free reports too.

This is just a welcome blog. Or maybe welcome again!

Best wishes.

Gordon Burgett

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