Self-Publishing on Ingram Spark – Everything You Need To Know

Ever since it was launched in 2013, IngramSpark has been providing a variety of helpful services to writers who choose to self-publish their books instead of taking up the hassle of approaching traditional publishers.

However, if you’re only getting started in the self-publishing world, you must have a lot of questions about IngramSpark – how does it work? How much does it cost? What are its benefits and limitations? How does it stack up against Amazon’s KDP?

So without further ado, let’s dive right in and go through everything you need to know about self-publishing on IngramSpark so that you can have a successful career as a self-published author!


Table Of Contents

How does IngramSpark work?

Once you’ve finished writing and editing your book, you can let IngramSpark take over the remaining process of getting your book into the hands of your readers.

The first thing you need to do is obtain an ISBN from a trusted agency that sells them in your country. If you’re in the U.S., you can buy them from Bowker.

After that, you have to make sure your book is properly formatted (both the interior and the cover) based on the guidelines given by IngramSpark for each format (paperback, hardcover, and eBook).

Make your account with IngramSpark and then select a publishing service. Note that at this point you will have to select one of three options for the up-front publishing cost:

• $49 for the print and eBook version

• $49 for the print version only

• $25 for the eBook version

Once you’ve done that, you will have gotten everything ready and all you will have to do is press the ‘publish’ button to get your book out into the world! You will be able to manage your book versions and keep a track of sales and orders through your IngramSpark dashboard.

Now, you might be wondering how a reader halfway across the country will have access to your book?

Once your book is published, IngramSpark releases it to its massive distribution network making it available to over 40,000 retailers, bookstores, online stores, libraries, and universities. 

Whenever someone places an order for your book, IngramSpark prints the required copies of your book and has them delivered directly to whoever bought them.

When your book starts generating sales, you get royalties or (as IngramSpark calls it) ‘publisher compensation’ from the revenue generated by your book. You have a record of all this available right on your IngramSpark dashboard.


Does IngramSpark distribute to Amazon?

Yes.

If you’ve published the eBook version of your book, it will be available on Amazon because it is a part of IngramSpark’s online retail distribution channel.

Self-publishing on Amazon For Under $200: The Definitive Guide 2021


Does IngramSpark provide an ISBN?

You need to have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for every format you select for your book. IngramSpark provides 2 options for those living in the U.S. You can log into your account dashboard and buy a single ISBN from Bowker via IngramSpark for a discounted price of $85 (the actual cost is $125 if you buy it directly). 

However, IngramSpark recommends that you buy the 10-ISBN bundle from Bowker.com directly which comes at a heavily discounted price of $295.

10 ISBNs
$295 Why this is your best value:
Each format of your book requires its own ISBN
Most books average two to three ISBNs to accommodate all published formats
You will have enough ISBNs for multiple books
Savings! You’re getting your ISBNs at only $29.50 each
ISBNs never expire; use them as needed

The other option is to get a free ISBN from IngramSpark. Currently, this is only available for publishers in the U.S. but the company is working to extend this offer for other countries as well. Note that even though this will save you a lot of money, it’s not necessarily a good option in the long term: you won’t have your own publisher imprint on your book (it will be replaced by IngramSpark’s ‘Indy Pub’).

Moreover, if you’ve already used a free ISBN and later purchase one for yourself, you will have to create a separate (revised) version of your book and publish it again through IngramSpark to get it out in the market.


Does IngramSpark distribute eBooks?

Yes, you can have IngramSpark distribute eBook versions of your book through its channels. However, you must follow a list of guidelines regarding IngramSpark’s ePub recommendations and specifications that are given on its official website.

These guidelines are mostly about how you should format and structure your book, and what items to include when submitting a book for publishing. If you find yourself unable to format the book properly and are confused with all the guidelines, you can opt for IngramSpark’s eBook conversion service that will do the needful for you for a nominal fee.


Does IngramSpark print on demand?

Yes. IngramSpark will fulfill all your print-on-demand inquiries. The cost for each copy will depend on several factors including the trim size, ink color, paper size, binding type, laminate type, and page count. You can visit their printing cost calculator to find out how much you will have to pay to get printed copies of your book.  


When does IngramSpark pay royalties?

IngramSpark pays royalties (or ‘publisher compensation’) 90 days after the end of the month in which your book generated sales.


What is IngramSpark’s Global Connect Program?

The Global Connect Program is IngramSpark’s way of facilitating retailers in other countries to sell your books without needing to ship them over to that particular location. It used to be that retailers and readers who wanted your books but lived outside the U.S. would have to ship copies all the way across countries, paying a hefty shipping fee as well as customs taxes.

By making deals with local printers in various countries, IngramSpark enables wider and more accessible availability of your books in retail stores, libraries, and universities overseas.


IngramSpark vs Amazon KDP

For several years, IngramSpark and KDP have been fiercely competing with each other to provide the best self-publishing route to independent authors. If you’re considering going down this road, you must have found it difficult to choose between the two options. Here is an overview of how IngramSpark stacks up against KDP – it will help you make a decision that is best suited to your needs.


Upfront costs

One of the biggest differences between IngramSpark and KDP which makes a lot of people go with KDP is the upfront cost you have to pay to publish your book.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, you will have to pay at least $25 if you’re publishing an eBook, or up to $49 if you want to publish a print and an eBook version through IngramSpark.

Moreover, you will be charged an additional $25 if you make any changes to the cover or manuscript. Amazon KDP, on the other hand, has zero costs. You do not have to pay anything to get your book published through KDP, nor do you have to pay anything to make any changes.


Print options

IngramSpark offers a better print-on-demand service because of the many options you get to choose from that are absent with KDP. For example, you can select from a large pool of trim sizes and color choices, and get hardcover and paperback versions of your book.

This is not the case with KDP which does not offer the hardcover version and has limited trim sizes to choose from along with one choice for color and no landscape option.


Return policy

Bookstores that order batches of your book do not always end up selling all the copies. They prefer to have a return option with the wholesaler/distributor that allows them to dispose of the extra copies that did not get sold.

IngramSpark is an attractive choice in this regard because it has a return policy: publishers in the U.S. can choose between having the extra copies delivered back to them if they are willing to cover the shipping costs, and having IngramSpark destroy the extra copies altogether. Publishers outside the U.S. do not have the shipping option.

KDP, on the other hand, does not offer a return policy or procedure to bookstores making it an unattractive option.


Bookstore-friendly

When you publish your book through IngramSpark, you have your own publisher imprint on the ISBN because you’ve bought it yourself (as long as you’re not using the free ISBN).

This helps your book mix in with books from traditional publishers. KDP books on the other hand have the ‘KDP’ imprint on each book, announcing that the book is a self-published one.

The difference this makes is that bookstores consider independently published books to be of low quality and no value to their customers, and so prefer to stay away from the Amazon and KDP symbol altogether. Because IngramSpark puts your publisher imprint onto the book, it is a lot easier to get your book onto the racks of a bookstore.


Wider distribution

When you set your book up in both print and eBook versions on IngramSpark, it is made available to 40,000+ retailers from around the world including Amazon.
However, if you do the same with KDP, you will only get access to Amazon and will be limited to that platform.

Moreover, IngramSpark has its distribution network spread out to countries all over the world like Italy, Germany, France, Poland, India, Russia, Brazil, China, and South Korea.  KDP only has its distribution networks established in the U.S. and Europe, limiting the regions your book can reach around the world.

IngramSpark is an amazing service for authors who decide to self-publish their work. I hope all the information I’ve given in this article helps you along your self-publishing journey.

Happy writing!

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