The third and final giveaway completed Sunday night and I’ve spent the last couple of days packing the books for mailing. The three giveaways have been an adventure. I could say they’ve been a learning experience, but we use so many euphemisms these days I think I’ll avoid it (trust me, if I say “learning experience”, what I mean is “I made lots of mistakes”).
Each one was unique in its own way and create some confusion for me on the question headlining this post. Let’s take it from the top…
For the What if? giveaway, I just sat around and watched the whole thing play out. Sure I had some previous mail order experience, but that was a long time ago. I was unprepared for the process and time demands of fulfillment. I used old clasp manila envelopes, which meant I had to (a) dampen them (not lick, thank you) and (b) tape them (since they were old and the glue didn’t impress me). Combine that with my perfectionist nature related to packing and the time and effort was draining. And that was before the adventure in the Post Office, where I had to put stamps on all 50 copies by hand. Meh.
Armed with foreknowledge, I did better on What Next? This time, I had prepared the 50 copies ahead of the completion of the giveaway and purchased some nice white adhesive strip envelopes. This time, I thought about adding a cover letter to the package (why I didn’t think of this the first time is a mystery). Unfortunately, I decided to mail merge the letters to, so that each person would receive one addressed to them specifically (I am big on the ancient art of courtesy and politeness, it’s doubtless why people put up with my other traits). I had not considered that meant I would have to check each time I inserted a letter that it matched the package addressee (don’t want to send Kathy’s book with Josef’s letter). The trip to the Post Office this time was different, too. The counter person worked with me on all 50 books, running them through the meter. While easier on me, the line behind me was not amused by my cutting the available helpers in half.
With the last giveaway, for What Now?, I jumped up the available copies to 90. Brilliant. Tired of taping two backing boards to every book and recognizing I would have to do this almost twice as many times as in either of the first two giveaways, I chose a new envelope, one with bubble wrapping inside. More expensive, but less labor intensive. Eh, maybe not so much. Whatever manufacturing process is used to make these envelopes apparently doesn’t allow for a nice flap crease. I had to take time on each envelope to “pre-crease” a fold so that when I pulled off the strip on the adhesive, it would give me a (relatively) flat surface to seal the envelope. My trip to the Post Office was similarly discouraging. Instead of getting my friendly helper from last time, I got the not-as-helpful-here’s-360-stamps-to-manually-put-on-your-90-packages guy. I may have spent less effort writing the book than I did in mailing them!
I can’t tell if that’s a series of unfortunate incidents and bad timing or if I have a self-destructive streak of bad decision-making. I do have to mention that the cool new envelopes for this giveaway that I had resigned myself to costing substantially more were actually buy one get the second at half price, so they ended up much cheaper than I thought. That was a pretty lucky coincidence.
Uh oh. Perhaps I don’t need your help answering that question, after all.