Delivery confirmation

Dear Miss Snark,

You recommend USPS Priority + Delivery Confirmation for sending out requested manuscripts, but I think it's bum advice because I just did exactly that and my pages arrived on Saturday when the agency was closed, so a notice was left for them to either pick up my manuscript at the post office or call the post for redelivery. How inconvenient and off-putting is that! Maybe that's what assistants are for, but I don't think assistants appreciate the extra Monday morning hassle either.

Well, I'm surprised there was mail delivery to an office on Saturday here in NYC. Most offices have the mail held over till Monday.

My experience has been that the mail carrier scans the bar code and leaves the envelope on a delivery confirmation. I've never had to trek to the post office to get one.

Don't confuse confirmation with certified mail. Two entirely different things.

And if in fact the mail is at the PO chances are the agent will NOT go get it. I never do.

And I didn't recommend it at all. The wording was "if you really absolutely have to spend more than a first class stamp, use delivery confirmation". I think priority mail is a total waste of money.


Dave Fragments said...

I sold several pipes worth between $75 and $350 on ebay and only used first class mail with delivery confirmation from the post office. (Of course I insured the pipes).
Every pipe was delivered in good condition and on time. I think it cost a buck and change. Very easy and very effective. The recipients could track the packages.
It's so simple.

Liz Wolfe said...

I send requested fulls by Priority Mail because the flat rate box is cheaper than regular mail. I also use delivery confirmation. I've never had a problem with it. My understanding is that when they deliver it, the barcode is scanned and then it's posted at the USPS site. I just punch in the barcode number and discover if it's been delivered. "Holding at the post office" sounds more like registered, certified or insured mail.

Anonymous said...

It used to be that there was a priority flat rate 2 lb mail pack that cost $3.85. Now they don't have a weight limit, and it costs 4.20. It's a good deal for postage. I send a lot of stuff that way. Use extra tape on the corners though.

Linda said...

My experience with delivery confirmation was disappointing. I sent a requested partial to an agent using this method, received a tracking number and proceeded to try to find out if my mail had been delivered. All the tracking number ever reported was that a delivery had been attempted and my mail was sitting at the post office for pick up. It said that for weeks. I had also been under the impression it would simply be noted and left at the address. I later found out this was the case, and the agent had received the mail at the office. But I never got confirmation from the post office that the mail had been delivered! I felt like I'd wasted my money.

Jude Hardin said...

Last week I sent a full manuscript to an agent, and I had the package insured. I didn't even consider that the agent might have to make a trip to the PO if nobody was in the office at the time of delivery.

Hope I didn't screw up royally.

Anonymous said...

The tracking info will say unable to deliver, message left. Then when you check in on Monday night it will say "delivered." Had that happen lots of times. Don't worry.

Anonymous said...

I used Delivery Confirmation to a NY publishing house and the Post Office attempted a Saturday delivery. When they realized no one was at the building, they noted on the tracking Web site that they were unable to deliver and they would attempt re-delivery on Monday, which they did. No hassles for the recipient.

Anonymous said...

I'm the one who asked the question, and I have a rotten update. At 7am on Monday morning, USPS decided that the box was "undeliverable as addressed" (no duh, why not wait 2 more hours until the busineses is open), so it's being sent back to me return to sender.

Two words: Never Again

Anonymous said...

BTW, can someone recommend what I should do now? The manuscript was requested last week, it's coming back to me, I want to get it to agent ASAP. Should I use FedEx, send it email, or what?

RyanBruner said...

Priority is a waste of money? For anything I've ever sent via USPS, it only ever costs $.75 more for Priority mail over first class. $.75 is no biggie...although, all it means is it will get there a day or two sooner under most circumstances. So, I suppose the $.75 is a waste of money.

Perhaps Miss Snark is confusing Priority mail with next-day or something?

Anonymous said...

I use confirmation (it's only 40 cents--free if you use their Click N Ship service on line), but sometimes the Post Awful doesn't record in the tracking number.

Certified costs more and it's just shooting yourself in the foot if no one's in that day.

When in doubt put in a self-addressed stamped post card.

All it needs to say is "Manuscript Title has reached the __ Agency."

When I was making the rounds back in the day, no one minded lobbing that in the "out" box. I at least knew that the envelope had been opened.

Mary Akers said...

I often do my mailing after hours at an automated machine. The only option it will give me for mailing manuscript packages is Priority Mail. The cost is only slightly higher and it's much more convenient for me to mail that way than to stand in long lines at the PO.

Anonymous said...

A simple solution would be to mail your submissions on Monday using Priority Mail (even though Miss Snark is right, you don't need to spend the extra money). Then you can rest assured that your manuscript will be delivered by Wednesday or Thursday, avoiding Saturday delivery altogether and saving you from worry.

Anonymous said...

Posted this on an entry below, but here it is again on a more current post:

Do you think FedEx Ground is the kiss of death?

A writer with several published books under her belt recommended I send my most recent requested full this way, rather than in a manuscript box via USPS, because my manuscript is small and then I get delivery confirmation.

But I just now realized one has to SIGN for FedEx Ground (I know... duh!)! I am a nitwit! I thought FedEx Ground was like Priority Mail--just a scan/track sort of thing.

Is this an automatic no? I saw that the administrative assistant signed for the full, so maybe I'm in the clear?

Anonymous said...

I didn't think Miss Snark recommended that.

Anonymous said...

By postal regs, ordinary mail turns into priority after a certain weight, so you might as well use the flat rate box if you're sending a full manuscript. The delivery con is nice, but unneccessary. The P.O. delivers.

Anonymous said...

But I just now realized one has to SIGN for FedEx Ground (I know... duh!)! I am a nitwit! I thought FedEx Ground was like Priority Mail--just a scan/track sort of thing.

You can get around this must-sign-for thing easily. On every FedEx airbill No. 8: Sign to Authorize Delivery Without a Signature.

This gives Fedex and out if something happens, but I have used this for years with no dire results.

Maybe it's just my general anti-government feeling, but I don't trust the POffice with Christmas cards, let alone my manuscripts.
Everything I have done in the last ten years of publishing goes FedEx. And always at the beginning of the week so you have time to recover if something goes wrong.

I've lost manuscripts to computer crashes but never to FedEx. It's more money but I sleep better.

Anonymous said...

A postal worker told me that priority goes no faster than first class - they go at the same speed. And yes, everything turns into "priority" over a certain weight.

Anonymous said...

Jen Leskin MD said...
"BTW, can someone recommend what I should do now? The manuscript was requested last week, it's coming back to me, I want to get it to agent ASAP. Should I use FedEx, send it email, or what?"

Just send off another copy as priority mail right now. Don't send it as an e-mail unless it was requested that way...usually it's pretty clear. Stop worrying; they will understand.

Anonymous said...

We mailed 3 checks which disappeared over a 3 month period (and lord knows how much less trackable mail went into limbo.) Never arrived, never cashed.

Once our post office spontaneously started forwarding our mail to a totally different address 2 towns down the road. By the time we caught it, we had charge card late fees and other fun stuff to deal with.

We routinely get mail addressed to houses one street over -- including mail from the DMV, bank statements, and Social Security.

We use delivery confirmation to let the mail carrier know someone's looking over their shoulder. It seems to help.

Anonymous said...

Ex-postal employee here (and my dad worked for the USPS for 30-some-odd years).

It's all a crap shoot. Priority mail is not "guaranteed" to get there any faster than first class. Sure, there's a good chance it MIGHT, but unless you've worked at a post office sectional center (I have), you don't realize how much like a chaotic factory it is. Things get literally thrown -- yes, THROWN -- into bins at an alarming rate. It's all about pushing it through as fast as humanly possible.

As for mailing full manuscripts...if you're not using a box, but a padded envelope instead (which is what I used just a couple of weeks ago to mail a full), you're not going to be able to use First Class because the cut-off weight is 13 ounces. Since there's no way that most full manuscripts are going to weigh less than that, you're either going to end up paying for Priority, or going with Third Class/Media. I chose Third Class, because the Priority rate was ridiculous.

And yes, sometimes Media mail can actually arrive as fast as the others. It's all a big marketing scam, really.

The moral? Don't waste money on postage. Package it well and pay the lowest amount possible.

Anonymous said...

Priority Mail has never let me down. I like the confirmation bar code as well, since I love to see when the package was delivered.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, it sounds like you live in P.O. hell. I recommend getting a post office box and having everything sent there. It's worth the peace of mind not trusting your carrier (sounds like carrier issues).
I love my P.O., and I love my P.O. workers. They are wonderful, and I've had things take longer than they should, but most things get there on time.
I'm old enough to remember as a child delivery (in Manhattan, no less) twice a day, morning and afternoon. And mail delivery on the Sunday before Christmas.

Anonymous said...

The same thing happened to me. I was reassured that delivery confirmation would not need to be signed for but when the postal worker attempted to deliver on Saturday, they left a notice for the recipient to pick it up. I called USPS to explain that the recipient wouldn't call, that the recipient wouldn't pick it up, that the recipient didn't really care and that even though I was assured it would be left w/o signature, it wasn't and that I didn't get what I paid for. The post office said it was at the discretion of the mailman whether to leave it or not and that there was nothing I could do now.

Lesson learned - I either skip the delivery confirmation or I send at the beginning of week when it will get there before Saturday.

Eric Riback said...

If you have a 13 ounce package, you can mail it for $3.15 or pay $.90 more and use priority. Anything more than 13 ounces is automatically priority, and for anything less the difference in price is greater. Going very long distance, priority may be faster than first class, but if you're on the east coast either way it will take a day or two.

The author who insured her package wasted money. There is no value to your mss beyond the value of paper and ink. If lost, they will not just pay the amount insured if the package wasn't really worth it.

My take: First class (or priority if weight requires) + delivery confirmation. Yes it's not perfect but neither is UPS or FedEx.

I recommend you folks who have the ability to write a book should obsess about your work and send it any damn way that gets it there. I may know how to ship stuff but I'm envious as heck.

Twill said...

I completely don't get this. Why would you insure ten dollars worth of paper? If it doesn't get there, print it out and ship again.

Jude Hardin said...

Time is money. I insured my package for $100 because:

1) It takes quite a bit of time for me to print a complete manscript, cover letter and bio, package it and stand in line at the post office to have it sent. If I pay to have it delivered and it's not, I feel I should be reimbursed for the time I wasted. Not necessarily for the paper and ink.

2) In my experience, the PO handles and cares for insured packages much better than for those not insured. I've had very valuable uninsured items left unattended at my doorstep for hours or even days. If it's not insured, they don't care who gets it. I made the mistake one time of sending a big box of Christmas presents uninsured. Guess what? It never got there, and I had no recourse.

3) It was a full manuscript, not unsolicited. If, by chance, the agent has to go to the PO and pick it up, at least it was something s/he was expecting.

I would never send a query/sample pages, or even a partial, by any other way than regular mail.

A full? I think it warrants a little more respect than that. My book does, anyway.

Unknown said...

As the wife of a former post-office truck subcontractor, just be glad if it gets there at all.

You'd want to hand deliver EVERYTHING if you really knew what goes on behind those walls, and on the road. It's a miracle that most of it gets where it's supposed to go...

Laura K. Curtis said...

Kathy -

I am totally with you. In fact, we probably live on the same street. The priority mail/delivery confirmation is the only way I send *anything* important...and I mail things almost daily for my job. I realize that depending on where you live this is a waste of money, but my post office is a disaster, as is my mail carrier.

Anonymous said...

"A full? I think it warrants a little more respect than that. My book does, anyway."

Usually only Miss Snark's comments make me laugh so hard I snort.