Many authors have a love-hate relationship with shipping books from home. They love getting the instant income, they hate trekking to the post office, waiting in line, having to painstakingly write out all the different addresses. But you can have your cake and eat it too–just set up an in-home mailing system. In many cases, your postal carrier might be able to pluck the envelopes out of your mailbox, saving you time and stress. To get started shipping books from home, check out our five things you absolutely need:

Boxes and Padded Envelopes

When you ship books from home, it can feel like Oprah giving away carsThis one goes without saying. You can buy shipping material in bulk from Amazon, which will make those big shipments a breeze. We like to keep a variety on hand, including padded mailers for paperbacks and slightly larger ones for hardcovers, and boxes for bigger shipments. Make sure you grab some good, strong tape, too.

Take stock of the size of your books (height, width, spine), then calculate how big your shipping materials should be. Here are the sizes we use for our 6×9 books:

(Note: While there are boxes that  measure 6×9, we’ve found they’re almost a little too tight for your books. Better to size up an inch or two)

Postal Weigher

Media Mail is the cheapest shipping option for books, but you’ll need to know the weight of your package. You can buy a postal weigher from Amazon for about $16. Make sure you get a big enough one to handle those larger shipments, as books run about 1-1.5lb each.

Account to Purchase Postage

When you sell books from your website, you make more money. Find out our best tips for shipping books from homeDepending on how you’ve set up your online store, you might be able to do everything without having to access PayPal. WooCommerce for WordPress lets you do it all-in-one, provided you give them a credit card. We prefer the security of PayPal, and can access our customers’ shipping information fairly easily. There, it’s one-two-three clicks to having a perfectly sized label for US Orders.

However, we noticed a price discrepancy on PayPal vs USPS for international orders. To prevent those $25-$50 shipments from coming back, we go direct to the source.

Peel and Stick Labels

You can print off your labels on regular paper, but it’s much easier to use Peel and Stick Labels, already custom formatted for PayPal or USPS. Then it’s as easy as, well, peel and stick!

Swag and Add-Ins

One of the benefits from buying directly from the author is that the author can add additional swag into the bag. Maybe a bookmark with a coupon for free shipping, or a rubber bracelet with your website on it. Your customer will enjoy the extra stuff!

But above all else, don’t forget to sign it!

Things you need to know when shipping books from home