In this article, I’ll be explaining some simple techniques self-published authors can use to manage and minimise the cost of postage.

Last week a member of the History Creator Group asked a question about postage. She often sees authors offering books with free postage and wondered how this could be.

The reality is that there is no such thing as “Free Postage”. Shipping goods from one spot to another has a cost, you can’t get away from that fact. How an author or online bookstore chooses to recover the cost is one of the issues to consider.

There are many ways of representing book prices, with each option usually chosen for specific reasons. The three most common are:

  1. Free Plus Shipping: With this option the author only asks for the recovery of postage. The reality is that most times the quoted shipping cost covers the cost of printing and postage with very little profit for the author. This tactic is mainly used to build a list or to act as a trip wire to upsell the buyer into a more expensive product such as membership or online training program.
  2. Shipping Added at Checkout: This tactic is used to present a low or attractive purchase price while clawing back profit by loading the cost of “postage and handling”.
  3. Shipping Included: This occurs when the seller wraps up all costs into one selling price. The buyer knows exactly what they are paying prior to checkout and there are no nasty surprises. Some online bookstores may position this as free postage but you can be assured that the postage cost is built into the book price.

I’ve found the most profitable option is to include the shipping in the book price. Cart abandonment is minimised with this approach and leads to more book sales. Analysing the data from over 2000 book projects has revealed cart abandonment sits at approximately 50% with shipping at checkout while shipping included sees this figure drop to less than 5%.

Recovering postage costs is one thing, however self-published authors need to understand how to minimise the cost of postage.

In Australia there are a number of key variables that influence the cost of book postage with the main two being:

  1. Dimensions: Ideally, from a minimal postage cost perspective, a self-published book should aim to ship in the “large letter” category. Book thickness and packaging materials are the main reasons why your book may not qualify.
  2. Weight: Australia Post has three weight categories the self-published author needs to be mindful of being 125, 250 and 500grams. Anything over 500 grams (total package weight) will have to be lodged as a parcel and you then bring other variables into play such as “cubic weight”, distance and remote areas, all of which can add significantly to postage costs.

A Supply Chain View

At Intertype we treat each book as a unique project and seek to understand the entire supply chain. This approach empowers us to seek out approaches that will minimise the postage costs. From a book perspective the major variables we look for are:

  1. Page size
  2. Page count
  3. Paper weight
  4. Packaging

With over 2000 successful book projects the Intertype team has developed a range of models that look to optimize the self-published author’s profit per book without compromising quality or the buyers experience. Some of the options we explore to minimise the weight of a book include:

  1. Font size and line spacing: This optimises the page count and is especially important for those books nearing more expensive weight categories
  2. Margins: Minimising margins reduces page count however we need to be careful that it doesn’t make the book harder to read or compromising the printing process
  3. Paper weight: This is self-explanatory however we need to balance this with “show through” issues, production processes and stock availability all of which can reduce readability and/or production costs.

Alternatives to Australia Post

Alternatives do exist but I don’t recommend them. Australia Post has the best delivery network in Australia and is the only one that can deliver to remote areas and PO Boxes. Alternatives can’t deliver “letters” as it’s a legislated “reserve service” which means that your books have to ship as parcels and this has significant cost implications if the recipient isn’t home to accept delivery. My advice is to keep it simple and stick with Australia Post.

Key Takeaways for Optimising Postage Costs are:

  1. Sticking with Australia Post simplifies the process without compromising the buyers experience
  2. Be careful how you position the cost of postage in the buying process as it can result in significant cart abandonment issues.

I know, self-publishing is complex and confusing but it doesn’t have to be. In coming articles, I’ll be exploring the simple, no BS and fast approach to becoming a successful and profitable author.

Finally, I want to leave you with one piece of advice:

A supply chain view balances all aspects of the self-publishing process while minimising costs and maximising the self-published authors profits.