I am not, never have been and as far as I know, will never be an employee of Ingram Spark. I am a user of their services, but receive no further monetary or other benefits, beyond the royalties I receive for the sale of my titles.
As a result today's blog will answer, hopefully, most of the basic questions new to this service's question.
It's an arm of the Ingram business which is a wholesale distributor of books to bookstores. I dealt with them when I ran my bookstore and my association now extends to my dealings with them as a publisher & author.
Why should I use IngramSpark?
Okay this one is harder to answer and really is more a case of Caveat Emptor. I cannot give you detailed advice as it will depend on your personal circumstances. Anything I say from this point on is general in nature and I suggest you undertake your own research before committing...
But, for me, I have the ability to produce high quality paperbacks and distribute them worldwide at little cost to myself. With the Amazon/GST thing happening in Australia, it makes economic sense for me to have this ability and be able to pre-order at will, not have the excessive shipping charges etc., I can override pre-order dates and my books are available to bookstores, though I choose not to use the paid publication they release simply because I'm not sure it's economically or fiscally sound for me.
I have looked at alternative venues including Lulu etc but found they didn't meet my needs.
So how do I set up an account with IngramSpark?
From an australian perspective you will need an ABN (Australian Business Number) but this can be sourced free of charge from the Taxation Office.
The actual setting up is not a difficult or onerous task, but if you have multiple pen names (like I do) create an overarching "publishing" name to give you some extra privacy... If you plan on doing that, create that now! It makes it easier in the long term and when your book goes live, your real name isn't associated! Have that ABN handy too.
Great, my account is set up and I'm ready to produce my first book...But how do I do that?
Use your password and username from setting up your account, and log in first. It will take you direct to the dashboard, but you need to click on the Add a New Title Button.
Now, I usually only choose the print option as I do all the direct distribution myself to KDP, iTunes etc., but you can get them to do it for you. It's a matter of stepping through the screens. One tip I found was when setting compensation levels the canadian $ never shows a compensation amount so I usually set the canadian cost to US $ to keep within a profitable margin.
Now, in case you didn't know this screen existed, when you click on Help --> Tools, there is actually a publisher compensation tool. https://myaccount.ingramspark.com/Tools/PubCompCalculator which will assist in working out how much you need to sell each book for before you make a profit. On that subject, there is also the print & ship calculator. When working out my prices (which I do as part of my pre-order routine) I work out the costs on a range of numbers of printed copies. Rule of thumb try to order as many as you can afford as it takes the cost per book down)
Okay, now we start to get serious. Each book Print & Ebook needs an ISBN. You need one for the print and one for the Ebook - you do not need a different ISBN for each platform so long as there is no difference between them. New cover = New ISBN. New editing = New ISBN. Please note, Ingram does not supply ISBN's. To purchase in Australia go to www.myidentifiers.com.au prices are:
- New Publisher Set Up $55
- One ISBN $44
- Ten ISBN $88
- One Hundred ISBN $480
It is also suggested you have a read of this document which outlines when/were to use different/new ISBN's.
You will need your interior matter complete in PDF format. Please note, using Microsoft Word to generate a PDF file is not sufficient for Ingram. IngramSpark do have a File Creation Guide which I strongly suggest new users take time to visit and read. If this proves too difficult, consider using an external formatter. I use Format Du Jour (but in the spirit of full disclosure I own and run it!) so file creation isn't such an issue for me. Be aware, the page count must be EVEN for the file to work :)
Your cover also has specific guidelines. Once more visit Help-->Tools as there is a cover generation template. You will need the page count (which you gain from your final PDF version of the interior files) the ISBN which you've chosen then you need to pick whether you are using the PDF version (I always choose that) or the InDesign version.
You will receive the email from IngramSpark to the email address you stipulate for the book. With regards to the barcode, IngramSpark auto generate that once your files are uploaded, however, you will see on the template where it will sit.
Once the file is uploaded and all the areas are completed, your book goes into PreMedia. This means that so long as the system finds no errors at upload, it is then physically inspected. That can take a couple of days. You will then be sent the e-proof and you can choose to either inspect the digital version or order a copy. I do the digital version.
What does IngramSpark cost to use?
There are set up costs (but with a little judicious googling you will find a coupon code for that!) and there is also an amendment cost should you wish to do so down the track (again, google my friend!) The cost of production will be easily found through the print & ship & publisher compensation tools.
What about shipping?
Shipping in Australia is via 3 major methods. I won't go into them all, however do take a moment to investigate exactly what they are suitable for. Not all will ship to home addresses. Some do not deliver to PO Boxes. One thing I did find is that they tend to be quick, even to remote & rural locations, but allow at least 2 weeks if you're trying to prepare for an event. It's always the way that if you leave it to the last minute, something will go wrong. (Not that I've ever had this issue.)
And Print Quality?
I can tell you I've been happy with the quality of my print titles. The covers are bright and the internal print has been perfect. I do know there have been some issues however, I've found Ingram to be very responsive.
Distribution - who and where?
This is the great thing. By using Ingram my books are available through The Book Depository, Amazon and bookstores. This costs nothing extra. One glitch I did find is Book Depository did not have the cover art and even though I contacted them, they wouldn't fix it. I contacted Ingram and they had the problem fixed within 48 hours. Lastly, the distribution is usually fast, but with large businesses like Amazon, it can take time for your books to go live. Ingram suggests having your books ready up to 6 weeks in advance to allow for lag, but I've found usually within a week, my pre order titles are live.
So, this has been a quick overview. If you've got questions, ask them below and I'll attempt to answer them for you!