Monday, May 7, 2007

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman

The U.S. Postal Service has become creative with its new postage rates (effective May 14, 2007). You probably already know about the new “forever” stamp that’s valid for first-class, 1-ounce letters forever. (Avoid lines at the post office and order some online here.) This is a brilliant idea for writers: now we can use this on our SASE and never worry about getting our rejections even if a journal holds onto our submissions for a year. Financial types are welcome to calculate the savings possible by stocking up on the stamps now—at the new, 41 cent rate—and holding onto them as postage rates inevitably rise—let us know what you determine.

Less publicized is the new (less brilliant) plan that entails basing postage costs on envelope size. Under the new plan, apparently you can shove a wad of papers into a standard envelope and it will still be only 41 cents. (Okay, up to 3.5 ounces…but that’s like 12 pieces of paper; good luck cramming all that in.)

What the post office now calls a “large” envelope is 80 cents for the first ounce, and 17 cents for additional ounces. If you’re like me, hoarding stamps in odd denominations to cobble together my own exact postage--anything to avoid post office lines!—undoubtedly this sounds confusing and troublesome. For example, why isn’t the rate the same as two stamps (82 cents)? Now I have to go buy a bunch of 80-cent stamps? And how large is large? What about 5x7ish envelopes—are they large or a letter? Don’t even get started on those cute square envelopes.

Inquiring minds want to know. But I spent a few minutes searching the postal service web site and couldn’t find any information on the new rates. Thank goodness I had picked up a brochure announcing the new rates…while I was waiting in line at the post office!

I suppose we’ll all survive…but it’s no wonder I find myself sending my work more and more to journals that accept online submissions.

Special note to stamp geeks: Don’t forget the new Star Wars stamps are out on May 25!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.