Monday, 2 April 2012

Royal Mail Fail?

So, if you haven't heard by now, let me be the one to give you the bad news that, in the UK, postage stamps are on the rise again, with effect from 30th April 2012.

First Class (letter format) is rising from 46p to 60p and Second Class (letter format) rises from 36p to 50p. First Class (Large Letter) is increasing from 75p to 90p.

I, like many others, think this will force many people to start using email more, and for many of my submissions email is the delivery method I choose, if it is available.

However, for some writers snail mail is still important. If you're entering competitions, many organisers still prefer snail mail submissions, although a few are beginning to accept email entries (such as Wrekin Writers' Doris Gooderson Short Story competition). If you're a novelist pitching to agents, many still want snail mail submissions, not email. (From my own personal experience, it feels the balance is currently 50/50 at present, with half accepting email submissions, the other half accepting postal submissions only.)

And there are still a couple of magazines where I have to submit my photos on a CD Rom and post them, purely because the editor's inbox can't cope with emails with over 2GB worth of attachments!

Even though there is still a month to go until the price hike kicks in, remember the following:

  • If you're posting anything by snail mail, and you are enclosing a stamped addressed envelope (so your work can be returned by an agent, or your competition entry can be returned if it is unsuccessful, or if you want a list of competition winners) make sure you include sufficient postage on your envelope for its return after 30th April. 
  • buy some stamps now, before the price rise, but make sure you buy the stamps that are labelled as 1st or 2nd and do not have a price on them. These will be valid after the price rise at the new rate. (If you can, put stamps labelled 1st or 2nd on your SAEs now, to ensure your envelopes are correctly stamped after 30th April.)
And, of course, to cut down on your postage costs in the future, investigate any way of submitting text by email in the future. Some magazine editors will accept unsolicited email submissions, whilst others will only accept solicited email submissions. A few short story magazines (The Weekly News, for example) only accept submissions by email now, but a couple still insist on snail mail.

For further details of all of Royal Mail's new prices from 30th April 2012, click here.
Good luck.


  1. Hello Simon

    I've been refering to this as the Royal Fail for years. About 10 years ago I had some really serious complaints about the local sorting office over mail going missing. I got in touch with a guy in Bristol who sent me 10 letters in various envolopes as a test to see how they performed. Beofre we moved 4 years ago I was still waiting for 3 of them to arrive!

    And don't mention Parcel Farce for God's sake!


    1. Hey BirderRon, you won't repeat that experiment now - with First Class going up to 60p, ten test envelopes will cost you £6! That's over four litres of petrol at todays inflated petrol prices! It would be cheaper to deliver them by car yourself!

  2. Hi, Simon

    I think for some writers, me included, who get a lot of rejections from certain women's mags who only accept snail mail submissions this stamp price hike will make me think twice about submitting to them! I simply won't be able to afford it - or I'll have to miss out the SAE and take pot luck with finding out if they're going to publish them or not!

    I think e-mail subs are much quicker and effecient, so let's hope more editors allow subs that way soon.

    Julie xx

    1. You raise an interesting point Julie. It might make writers think more about their submission before posting it off! Don't waste stamps by sending a 1st draft!

  3. Perhaps this enormous price hike will make editors review their submissions policy. But I suppose their problem is they are loath to be obliged to read everything on a screen and as we all know the cost of computer printer ink cartridges has also gone through the roof (broke the writing rule on cliches, sorry)

    1. It'll be interesting to see whether more mags will change their submission policy. And also whether writers start foregoing the SAE and saying 'just drop me an email with your decision!'

  4. This really hurts me. As a Kidderminster girl I don't know if I can bear the ten bob post when I share the same birthplace as Rowland Hill who came up with the penny post. Bring back the Penny Black I say.

  5. Probably more fiction magazine outlets when the Penny Black was around too!

  6. Yes postage costs! I had a bit of a whine about it on the short story writers FB page. I so wish those mags who don't accept submissions via email would. I feel it's difficult as it is getting a short story published (so many good writers out there) but add the postage costs to all this and it doesn't help matters.

  7. I work in the post office, (BFPO) 1st class stamp books, have 1st on them, it would definitely be worth stocking up on a few books.

    Some usless information for you,

    In 1978 a first class stamp was 9p, in 2000 you paid 26p for a 1st class stamp = 17p difference in 22 years.

    In 2011 it was upto 46p, that's 20p difference over 11 years.

    and now they are going up 14p in 12 months...... Pretty shocking really!

  8. That closing good luck seemed particularly relevant!

    I bought a book of 100 1st class before the last increase and still have about a dozen left - but I'll still buy another 100 before the 30th.

    Every little helps.