Last week, we talked about Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and how we get our books into paperback. This week, we’re going to talk about the other tool: IngramSpark.
Ingram vs. CreateSpace
Ingram is the largest print book distributor in the world, and is what the big-dogs use to distribute their books. IngramSpark is their indie-publishing arm, which has lowered the barriers for small fries like us to get our books in the same places as the big pubs. Unlike Amazon, Ingram isn’t used to dealing with customers, so their user interface leaves a LOT to be desired. Once you figure out how to do the things you want, it becomes easy to navigate.
Once you’ve got your account set up, you’ll need to start creating your titles. Unlike with CreateSpace, if you go with Ingram, you’ll need to create an imprint name and bring your own ISBNs. Ingram does not offer ISBNs for free, and you will not be able to use a CreateSpace ISBN on Ingram.
Let’s repeat that:
If you create a book on CreateSpace with a CreateSpace ISBN, you will not be able to use that same ISBN on Ingram and will have to have two ISBNs for your book.
However, if you bring your own ISBNs to both CreateSpace and IngramSpark, you will be able to use the same ISBN. It’s a small distinction, but important when deciding how you want to approach ISBN acquisition.
IngramSpark also will allow you to create an eBook, although we at SGR-Pub prefer to go direct to KDP and use Smashwords. If you want to use Ingram for eBooks, you’ll need to remove them from other shops, like iBooks or Nook.
When you’re setting up your title, you’ll need to have the same information as with CreateSpace, like description, ISBN, and BISAC number. In addition, you’ll need to select your size, page number, and print type. You’ll want to make sure these match if you’re using CreateSpace and IngramSpark together.
The good news is that if you’ve been using CreateSpace to proof your book (and they share ISBNs), you can upload the same cover and interior for IngramSpark.
One of the main reasons we use IngramSpark is they offer preorders for up to a year in advance. We’re firm believers that preorders mean more sales, and having a landing page on Amazon 3 or even 6 months ahead of publication date is a big leg-up. You’ll also be able to order books before the sale date in case you want to fulfill orders early. CreateSpace, on the other hand, doesn’t let you order books until you’ve approved the book, and made it available.
Creating a Hardcover
If you’ve gotten to the title stage, you’ll see that IngramSpark does, in fact, offer hardcover versions. Our view is: If you’re already formatting and creating for paperback, why not go for the gold? Having your book available in multiple formats increases the potential for sales. Keep in mind, you’ll need to create a new cover with a full-wrap (including those fun inner flaps). Also, Hardcovers are much more expensive to purchase, so you’ll want to consider your sales price.
Returnable Books: Pros and Cons
When you’re creating your book, IngramSpark will ask you to set the retail price and also determine returnability. What that means for you is if a store buys 40 of your books and sells none, they will ship them back to Ingram, and Ingram will either ship them to you or destroy them, while charging you for the cost to print and ship them. Or, you can set the returnability to “no.” This setting isn’t available in CreateSpace.
Why would you want books to be returnable? Most brick-and-mortar stores won’t stock books that aren’t returnable, although you can find occasional stores with exceptions to this rule. For them, it’s a low risk: they can purchase books and not have to eat the cost if they don’t sell. If your sales goals include these kind of stores, checking “returnable” is probably a good option.
Keep in mind that if you do get a big, fat box of books, you can still sell them on your own to make back the cost.
Buying in Bulk
As we said above, CreateSpace doesn’t let you buy books before they’re officially “on sale,” whereas Ingram does. However, apples-to-apples, Ingram is the more expensive Print on Demand service. For our purposes, we purchase direct from CreateSpace when we can, and when our books are only available for preorder or in hardcover, buy from Ingram.
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