As a self-published author you have a lot of choices to make during the publishing process, not the least of which is what publishing platform you intend to use to get your book into the world.
We typically publish books on both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark using a specific self-publishing formula that takes advantage of the strengths of both platforms. We’ve found that while Amazon KDP tends to be more user friendly and therefore more attractive to first-time authors, it’s not one-size-fits all. Many authors also don’t want to limit the reach of their novel to just Amazon’s audience, and therefore need a publishing platform with a more diverse distribution.
Whatever your reasons are for wanting to publish a title through IngramSpark, we can walk you through exactly how to set up your title and begin selling books.
What is IngramSpark?
IngramSpark is the online self publishing arm of Ingram Content Group. This platform allows you to print, distribute worldwide and manage print and ebooks. Their distribution network is extensive, and allows them to make your book available not only to online retailers but also physical bookstores and libraries.
While IngramSpark is a print-on-demand service much like Amazon KDP, unlike KDP IngramSpark does not also sell books to customers the way Amazon does. Instead, books listed on IngramSpark are included in the Ingram catalog that is utilized by book distributors and wholesalers that sell to retailers, libraries, and bookstores. While IngramSpark has never disclosed its exact list of distribution channels, it is estimated to be well over 400 different online catalogs.
If it’s important to you to get your book into bookstores or in libraries(which mind you, takes a specialized form of book marketing) then you will almost have to list your book on IngramSpark, where you can control your wholesale discount and enable returns- two things a bookstore will require before ordering your book.
Can I publish on IngramSpark and KDP at the same time?
If you’ve done any kind of research before picking your self publishing platform, you may have read some articles indicating that you can’t publish on both platforms at the same time- or that you shouldn’t.
That’s just not the case. You can easily take advantage of both publishing platforms if you choose to, you will just need to purchase your own ISBN numbers (versus using the free ones provided by Amazon). If you need some tips on how to publish on both platforms, here is our how to guide.
Regardless of whether or not you are also publishing on Amazon or other publishing companies, it’s a good idea to consider IngramSpark as an alternative.
Here is how to upload your book to IngramSpark:
1. Create an Account
To create your IngramSpark account, go to www.ingramspark.com and click ‘Create New Account’ in the upper right corner. After entering your email and password, they will send you a verification email to complete the process.
From there, the set up process is relatively similar to Amazon KDP. The first step is to pick between an independent author or a business account.
Note: If you are choosing a personal author account, do not use a pen name or author name. This can delay the verification process of your account, and if they are unable to verify your identity you may not be able to publish books.
Ingram will need to collect some personal data from you including
- A physical address (not a PO Box)
- Bank account information
- Tax ID information
- Your phone number (they’ll send an OTP to your phone to verify the account)
- Credit card
2. Sign the Agreements
Before you can upload any titles, Ingram asks that you look at and sign or opt out of several agreements.
The first is the POD agreement. This one is required to sign. The others, you can either open and sign them or opt out. There are three total:
- Apple E Book distribution agreement
- Amazon Addendum
Typically we sign all three agreements except for the Amazon Addendum. This addendum allows IngramSpark to distribute your ebook to Amazon. If you followed our self-publishing formula, then you already published an ebook to Amazon, which means you cannot accept this addendum.
If you have not uploaded any files to Amazon – and aren’t planning on it – you can sign this agreement and Ingram will make your ebook available to Kindle readers.
3. Gather All Your Book Files
Before you upload your files to Ingram, it’s a good idea to gather everything that you will need in advance. That includes:
- POD (Print on Demand) file. This is a PDF of your formatted book
- EPUB file. This is the ebook version of your book
- Cover templates. Using Ingram’s template generator you can take your designed book cover and adapt it to their printing specs. You will need one for your paperback and, if you are also publishing a hardcover version you will need a case laminate cover and a dust jacket cover template
- A .jpg of just the front cover of your book for the ebook.
I like to get all these files together and put them somewhere convenient so I have them all in once place when it’s time to do the upload.
4. Set Up your Title
After all the account information is loaded, you can go to your dashboard and select ‘Upload a Title.’ You can do an ebook and paperback version at the same time, or do everything separately.
Ingram will first ask that you have all your files ready (which you do, because you followed step three).
Next you will need to fill in all the metadata about your book. This includes:
- Your author name
- Any other contributors
- Who your primary audience is
- The book description
- Your ISBN and imprint
- Keywords and categories
- Trim size
- Paper weight and color preference
- A matte or glossy cover
- The number of pages for both your print book and ebook
5. Choose Your Pricing and Distribution
After the meta data is entered and saved you will enter the pricing data. It is a little more hands on than on Amazon. For each distribution country you have to enter a price, select your wholesale discount, and then enter the percentage of discount you want to give retailers. Each line will auto calculate your royalties and print costs for each country.
Retailers like a really high discount, so if you want to make your book attractive to bookstores you almost have to give them at least a 45% discount.
You will also have to select how you want to handle returns: either no returns, ship, or destroy.
6. Upload your Files
Next you will upload your files including your print interior; print cover; epub file; and ebook cover; and if you’re doing a hardcover those cover files as well.
Ingram will check the contents of each file to make sure everything looks ok. They might alert you that some of the images inside are low res, or other things like that. You can either choose to proceed or fix the issues and re-upload your files.
You will want to make sure your cover is built to their templates, and you can do that using their template generators: https://myaccount.ingramspark.com/Portal/Tools/CoverTemplateGenerator
7. Approve your Files
After the files are uploaded the book goes into processing. If they find any errors in your files, you will get an email to log into your ingram account for instructions on how to fix the errors. The most common error we see is that something is off in the specs of the cover art.
If there are no errors, or after you’ve fixed any errors, you will get a notice that your proof is ready to approve. Log into your IngramSpark account and find the book on your dashboard that says ‘awaiting your approval.’ Hit “approve” and you will be taken to a screen to download your proof. After you review it, you can either approve it for distribution, reject it and upload a new file, or reject it with instructions.
It will take a few more days for the book to be live in the system and for their distribution channels to pick it up. You should see a green ‘title available’ next to the book status and a blue globe indicating that it is enabled for distribution.
8. Order a Printed Proof
While you wait for the title to be made available to global distribution, you can order a copy to check the quality and make sure everything is to your liking.
What to look for in a printed proof
Even if everything looked correct in the digital proof, sometimes print-on-demand can go wrong, which is why you always want to order a single copy of your book to inspect it for any errors.
First look at the cover to make sure all the art elements printed correctly and there aren’t any traces of white around the edges. Is the title centered on the spine; things like that.
Then, look at every single page. You can read your printed proof if you want, or you can just look at every page to make sure there are no glaring errors.
If there are any errors or things that need corrected in your original file, you will need to make those corrections and then re-upload the manuscript. The good news is that Ingram has gone away with upload fees, so as long as you are making any changes within a 60 day window you do not have to pay any upload fees to reupload a new file.
If the error is not in your original file but is in the printed proof, you will need to contact Ingram’s customer service for support. It’s a good idea to take pictures of what you are seeing to show them. You may need to order a second printed proof to double check that the changes and corrections came through properly.
Should you have any issues, there is a help button where you can send a request to a customer service rep. They take forever to get back to you. There is also an option to schedule a paid call with a rep, which can be very helpful to get a real person on the phone to troubleshoot things.
Once your book is published on IngramSpark, it’s time to start marketing it. Check out our 10 Book Marketing Ideas for First Time Authors to get some ideas on where to start.
And as always, reach out if you have any questions!