Should you use ingramspark for your self-published book? (NO)

Should you use ingramspark for your self-published book? (NO)

A day or two ago I made a self-publishing video and went down the rabbit hole of publishing options and why NOT to use ingramspark to publishing your book. Then today I got this email:

I heard that IngramSpark is an aggregator distributing novels at different platforms like Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Press… I am thinking about going with IngramSpark to make my fiction novel more popular and gain profit. But before, I would like to ask you a question since I haven’t heard much about IngramSpark in one of your videos.

I heard that IngramSpark is recommended for most Indie Authors and even those outside. Based on your opinion, is IngramSpark good for first-time publishing authors who want to aim for wide distribution in multiple platforms, or simply create an account in each platform separately?

Short answer: NO

Ingramspark costs money to upload files, is less intuitive than KDP and much pickier about the files (cmyk, fonts embedded…) the book design files you had produced are probably meant for KPD and will have to be redone for ingramspark, and then there will be some troubleshooting and hand-holding.

The advantages of ingramspark in theory are that book stores can order your books directly – since they won’t order from Amazon. But you need to set up things like the big publishers do, with returnability and huge discounts. Since print on demand, and especially hardbook printing on demand, is expensive, IF you set everything up right, your books will be too expensive to order, and you’re taking a huge risk if bookstores order your books.

But they probably won’t.

In the beginning, your only goal is to make more than you lose publishing.

Most authors never clear that hurdle.

If you aren’t profitable, no matter how big your budget is, you will eventually run out.

If your book doesn’t sell or isn’t converting, it doesn’t matter WHERE you publish.

Just making it available, will not fix all the critical issues and mistakes that you’ve probably made (don’t worry, it’s normal, every author makes all the mistakes and refuses to listen). But there are a bunch of publishing gurus spouting the same advice and making publishing more difficult and more expensive than it needs to be.

Does it HURT to publish with KDP and also ingramspark?

No – but the more open platforms you’re using, the harder it will be to test, tweak, make changes, pivot and see results. Which means, probably after publishing, you’re just going to keep spending more money on marketing and promotion, without fixing the critical errors (cover, blurb, reviews) that would actually make a difference.

KDP now has hardcover books (casebound, not dust jacket) so that’s one less reason to go with ingramspark.

I would imagine, ingramspark makes lots of money on the small uploading fees from thousands of authors (easily six-figures a year) and the majority of those books never sell any copies.

I’m not against them; lightning source did make their buggy, hard to access system available to indie publishers through ingramspark and are happy to take our money. Most vanity or hybrid presses are really just people who will help you upload your files to ingramspark because it’s kind of a pain in the ass.

But you don’t need to pay 10X as much for help if you went with a simpler platform, which is KDP.

Yes I know, Kindle and Amazon are the devil, and you can avoid the straight easy road for the difficult and challenging road, with more risks and less results, if you are determined not to support Bezos, and that’s a personal choice.

Do you need to use ingramspark because everybody else is telling you it’s a good idea for reasons (like, you can get into bookstores) – they probably have an outdated idea of publishing and book sales – and no, you really don’t.

PS. This article is short and flippant but I wanted to post it. I do have a much deeper, much longer review in my videos that cover more details and objections.

Print Quality

Some people say ingramspark has better quality, I haven’t found that to be the case. Here’s a side by side review of a full-color print book (from createspace, not KDP print, but they’re using the same printers I believe).

Amazon vs. Ingramspark quality: side by side comparison.

For most readers, there won’t be any significant or noticeable quality differences between the platforms.


Since the question though was mostly about distribution, we can mention that draft2digital or smashwords distribute your ebooks for you. I have heard that publishing your ebook through ingramspark makes it accessible to a certain database of libraries, which is pretty cool. Mark Coker says, why be in one bookstore when you can be in all of them?

And that seems to make sense.

Unless, by putting them in every bookstore, you’re really ending up in the dark, back shelves nobody ever visits: because, you get less sales on every platform; you get less reviews on every platform; your rank is lower on every platform.

It is harder to maintain sales when you go wide unless you already have a big platform, a big advertising budget (and a TON of knowledge on genre-specific/site-specific ads), and a perfect, strong product (powerful cover, blurb and enough reviews).

Most authors have NONE of this, so going wide and hoping for more visibility, will actually bring you LESS visibility… and that’s the main point I hope to impress.

It’s not bad. It’s not wrong.

But in the beginning, you probably have to tighten your belt and make concessions, and focus on fewer choices and options, so that you can pick your battles. You don’t need to, nor should you, try to compete with the sixfigure authors and million-dollar publishers with your first indie published book.

And there are significant advantages that favor us – for example that we can make changes quickly and update our own content – that we need to be careful not to through away in favor of what the bigshots are calling the more professional way to publish.

PS – the video I mentioned earlier is part of my 21 day author platform course; I’ve set it to free preview so you can watch the full publishing presentation if you want to learn more about these choices.

Here are a couple more useful posts:

Ps. Feel free to comment and tell me what I’m wrong or that you’ve been extremely successful with ingramspark; I always appreciate diverse opinions and contrary evidence, and there may be some newer features or opportunities I’m overlooking.

1 Comment

  • James Thompson Posted

    I loved this article.At present, I am about to be complete in getting my files on Ingramspark.And, I did click the returns button because I have had my book in Barnes and Noble bookkstore before, and returns o books is insurance on books.

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