January 27, 2014 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Send me an email with your manuscript attached, and I'll print it out and mail it to your publisher for you.

It's a major hassle sometimes for me to get my act together enough to print out a story and submit it in to one of the markets that doesn't support electronic submissions. So I made a site where you, via email, and without creating any accounts, can pay for someone else (me) to put your manuscript in the mail.

I won't be a lazy bum when it comes to your shiz, I promise.

How it works

You send an email with certain predefined attachments to the specified address. You get a reply back within a minute or two with a quote, and a link you can use to review details and make a payment via PayPal. If you pay, I print and send it off sometime within the next business day. You'll get another email to let you know once it's in the mail.

If you don't bite, just move on and you'll never hear from the site again.

Why it's designed this way

Everyone has email. Everyone hates hassle. I had code to tie into Mandrill (which sends the emails) already from previous projects; I also had code available to work with the "classic" PayPal APIs, which are perfect for this kind of minimalist, funky thing. Since I'm offloading Mandrill and the email inbox to someone else, all I had to do was whip up the behind-the-scenes logic and I was good to go.

Virtually no infrastructure and no costs if no one bites, but a great idea if they do.

Why you should use it

So I can quit my day job.

One last thing

I asked this question to help come up with the domain name. If you can think of a better fit that's open, send me a memail. I'd appreciate it.

Feedback greatly appreciated.
Role: programmer
posted by jsturgill (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I'm not a potential customer. But I think it's a useful service. Perhaps not just for the manuscript submission purpose. Lots of people have other things to print and mail, and would pay to outsource that chore. I would suggest, however, that you make your site somewhat more user friendly. For example, a clickable email link. And some kind of pricing schedule rather than having to ask for a quote. Ideally, the quote turnaround thing should be eliminated and you could just fill out a form: how many pages; regular mail, priority or FedEx, whatever; any other options; submit file and pay, done.
posted by beagle at 5:26 PM on January 31, 2014

I favorited your site. I absolutely hated trying to pull off manuscript printing when I was out of Universities for a while. I will share this with my colleagues.
posted by DinoswtfEd at 9:10 AM on February 1, 2014

Thanks for the feadback, beagle. Very helpful!

I don't want a form because, well, it's the common approach. Where's the excitement? If this gets any traction, the account-less and email-centered aspects of it are likely to be the most buzz-worthy parts.

Also, people can be wrong or make typos. When I get the document(s), my script calculates the page count accurately without having to worry about human error.

Part of my desire to avoid a form may also be my perspective on what is simple; to me, sending the email with attachments takes two seconds and zero thought once I've grasped the concept, whereas forms always require more concentration on my part.

I've been spending time since posting it working on an infrastructure to make it simple to add multiple inboxes. That's mostly complete, so letter@... will be up shortly (same deal, but no SASE), as well as documentation@... (which will reply with all currently active inboxes).

I've also been working on making it domain agnostic, so that if/when a better domain name comes up, I can switch without worrying about the code. Also it would allow me to run the same code on multiple domains, if that came up.

Once all that's out of the way, I'm going to make the "to" and "from" fields editable, so you can correct any mistakes before you check out.

Finally, after all that, I'll make them optional; you can enter the to and from addresses on the quote page before you check out if you leave them off your email.

I think those last two changes should make it much more user friendly. The final user-friendly step will be to make a quick screencast on the page walking through each step, and maybe some help files for the truly clueless explaining how to make a text file on Mac & Windows, how to export to PDF or print to PDF from MS Office and LibreOffice, and so on.

Long after all of that I'll start adding premium options to the checkout page (delivery confirmation, overnight delivery, color printing, that sort of thing).

All of which is just FYI. I really appreciate the feedback. Like everyone, I have blinders and perspective is valuable. A clickable email link on the page--why didn't I think of that???
posted by jsturgill at 11:44 AM on February 1, 2014

Wow. I just looked back over what I wrote and it's quite the sprawling breathless mess. I'm excited by the project and eager to talk people's ears off about it, but I think I'll not post here again unless someone has a question or a problem with the site, or there's a major update.

Thanks for being interested in it!
posted by jsturgill at 11:56 AM on February 1, 2014

Multiple inboxes are up on the live site now. It's just letter@ and manuscript@ for the moment.

Editable to & from fields on the quote page is next up, followed by making them optional in the original email.
posted by jsturgill at 12:58 PM on February 6, 2014

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