SASE and Postage
Yes, you need to include a return envelope and postage. DON’T FORGET THE POSTAGE. I know, it sounds obvious, but people forget it, or even think they don’t need it. :nut: You are already asking someone to spend time signing for you, and possibly even provide a photo. Don’t ask them to pay money on your behalf too. It usually makes the difference in getting a response or not.
First off, the envelope. Unless you are sending a large picture, #10 envelopes are your way to go. They are big enough o fit your letter and materials in, plus have room for an 8X10 or 9X12 manila return envelope. It’s easy to fit a large envelope into a #10 – all you do is fold it three times and you are done.
On your return envelope, you need to put your full address, including country if you are sending internationally. Put your address as the RETURN ADDRESS too. This will make sure it gets back to you. Also, if it needs more postage, you will be the one who gets to pay it. Otherwise, you might never see it again.
TIP 1: Write “PHOTO…….PLEASE DO NOT BEND!” on your envelope. It works. It’s also very important if you live on a rural route or in apartments where small mail boxes or box stuffers can destroy a photo.
TIP 2: If your manila envelope has a metal tab to help keep it closed, be sure to place two pieces of tape on the inside of the envelope covering the metal brads. Otherwise, they can and will scratch photos.
Obviously, you can use whatever envelopes are appropriate to what you are sending. If all you want signed and expect are trading cards or index cards, use a small return envelope. If you are sending a 5X7, but hope to receive an 8X10 back too, send it in a 5X7 and enclose and 8X10 manila.
If you are sending your own items, you might want to enclose a cardboard backing or something. I stockpiled spare backers from notepads, or just used comic or magazine backing boards. Just remember, the heavier your package, the more expensive to send.
That brings us to POSTAGE.
If you live in the same country you are sending to, you need stamps. If not, you need International Response Coupons (IRCs).
In the US, first class postage is $0.39 for the first ounce and $0.24 for each additional ounce. Typically, a request with an index card and manila envelope included will only cost one stamp, but it’s really close to two ounces.
I usually put 2 oz. worth of postage on the return envelope, which is two stamps. You would only need $0.63, but if all you have are $0.39 stamps, you end up spending $0.78.
If you start sending out a lot of requests, I recommend buying some 24 cent stamps (or equivalent), so you don’t waste your money. You can also buy Airmail stamps…which should now cost 84 cents. Previously, it was a flat rate for every ounce…but it is slightly different now. 2 ounces postage to Great Britain is now $1.70, and to Austrailia/New Zealand is $1.80. This is unfortunate, because the weight of cards, IRC, and large manila envelopes usually pushes the weight a little over one ounce.
O help reduce confusion, it’s a good idea to find a postage scale. It doesn’t have to be one of those big scales you set stuff on top of. You can buy little handheld ones that you clip to the envelope and hold in the air. Makes it really easy to figure out exactly how much your envelopes weigh. This is really handy if you start sending pictures and other hefty items.
Now, if you are sending internationally, you’ll need IRCs to include with you self-addressed envelope. An IRC is a 4X6 blue & yellow coupon you can buy at your post office. They keep them locked up with the stamps, in case the postal worker you are talking to doesn’t know what they are.
An IRC can be exchanged for first class-postage in virtually any country. (Actually any country that is a member of the International Postal Union, which is just about any country you will be writing). Think of it this way: One IRC = one stamp. I typically enclose 2 or 3 IRCs with an international request, particularly if I think I’ll be getting an 8X10. One might work, but I prefer not to take chances. One would be fine for an index card or trading card. The last time I bought IRCs, they cost $1.75 each, but they could have gone up with the recent US postage increase. Here is an IRC:
Please note the box on the left hand side needs to be postmarked WHEN YOU PURCHASE the IRC, otherwise it will not be activated. The box on the right is supposed to be cancelled by the RECEIVING post office in England or wherever when the IRC is redeemed.
So, once you’ve got all your stuff together, including your letter, index card and other items, self-addressed envelope and postage, cram it all into your #10 envelope and mail it. Then you wait
US Domestic Rates can be seen here: http://www.usps.com/consumers/domestic.htm
US International Rates: http://pe.usps.gov/text/pub51/51tblb_002.html
Regions: 1 (Canada), 2 (Mexico), 3 (Great Britain), 4 (Australia/New Zealand)
For British standard and airmail rates, visit: www.royalmail.com