Distribution services vary widely. In this article, we’ll specifically cover IngramSpark publishing – the biggest distribution company in the world. We’ll show you:
- How to effectively publish and distribute using IngramSpark’s services
- How to tell if IngramSpark is right for your unique marketing needs
- What the pros and cons of using IngramSpark are
- How much it costs to use IngramSpark
IngramSpark is a self-publishing company that publishes and distributes both eBooks and print books. IngramSpark has a “parent company” called Ingram Content Group.
ICG’s subsidiaries, such as IngramSpark, all work to support the book industry (their services range from providing marketing to sales reporting. They’re a big name in the book world.)
At the time of publishing our distribution services guide, we reported that IngramSpark was reaching 39,000 global stores. Today, IngramSpark has grown that number to 40,000+ retailers in their efforts to serve authors.
Depending on formatting (print vs. eBook), IngramSpark’s reach includes the following:
- Barnes & Noble
- Independent bookstores
- And much more
How does IngramSpark work?
IngramSpark supports indie authors by providing them with several offerings:
- Learn how to self-publish with free resources
- Publish hardcovers, paperbacks, or eBooks
- Distribute print books or eBooks
- Track book sales through IngramSpark’s dashboard
Their most popular service is distributing books via print on demand, or POD (more on that in a second!).
Whether you work with print books, eBooks, or a combination of both, IngramSpark’s website has the tools to put your works into circulation.
What is a distribution company?
Self-publishing companies. Distribution companies. Throwing out several business models can get confusing, especially when one service (like IngramSpark) does both.
To clarify, distribution companies like IngramSpark send books right to retailers. They have direct relationships that cut out any middle man.
Instead of managing the publication and sales of your book on Nook, Amazon, and brick-and-mortar stores separately, IngramSpark handles the distribution to all of these retailers for you.
You are responsible for the upfront work of book production, including editing and designing a cover, prior to using IngramSpark.
What is print on demand (POD)?
IngramSpark offers print on demand capabilities for print books. This means you can print the exact number of book copies you need in direct relation to sales demand through their sister site, Lightning Source.
POD is a huge advantage of IngramSpark due to its efficiency and potential cost savings. You’ll hear this term tossed around quite a bit when discussing distribution companies.
Do indie authors really need distribution companies?
Not every self-published author will be interested in publishing through distribution companies. Authors who are exclusive to KDP may not benefit from straying away from Amazon.
However, IngramSpark has a far wider reach than Amazon does through their Global Book Distribution. Global Book Distribution puts print books and eBooks in online and brick-and-mortar stores around the world.
If you’re still trying to decide whether or not a service like IngramSpark is right for you, consult our Distribution Service Quiz. Prior to making an investment in distributing your book, it’s important to know if this approach fits your exact marketing needs.
Ready to learn more? Keep reading to get answers to some of your most pressing IngramSpark questions, including:
- How to Use IngramSpark Publishing Services
- The Step by Step Guide to IngramSpark
- What to Know About IngramSpark Publishing and Pricing
- Pros and Cons of IngramSpark Publishing
How to Use IngramSpark Publishing Services
When you access the IngramSpark website, you’ll be presented with options for publishing print books and/or eBooks. As we’ll explain in our step by step guide later in the article, make sure that you first create an account with IngramSpark to begin exploring its full benefits.
What genres does IngramSpark serve?
IngramSpark publishes a wide variety of genres on their platform, so you don’t have to worry that yours will be excluded. Genres include:
- Novels & Poetry Books
- Children’s & Cookbooks
- Business & Health Books
- Graphic Novels
Can I use IngramSpark and Amazon?
Absolutely. You are welcome to publish on both places, with a few caveats:
- If Amazon already has your book information on file, that will replace any info they receive from IngramSpark. (Basically, Amazon serves themselves first if you publish through both services.)
- Make sure you aren’t opted into expanded distribution with Amazon KDP if you’re using IngramSpark’s expanded distribution.
Keep in mind that both IngramSpark and Amazon take their share of royalties. If you aren’t already familiar with the costs for Amazon, we suggest reading up on royalty rates to weigh out the costs. IngramSpark also has a helpful book calculator for estimating payments.
The Step by Step Guide to IngramSpark
To get started with IngramSpark, you’ll need to have the following prepared:
- A unique ISBN generated for each book title
- Files that contain your book cover and text
- An email address
- A way to pay
Preparing your files for IngramSpark is certainly not intuitive. To make this easier, IS has generated a File Creation Guide in an attempt to assist authors who are at this stage. We recommend following this guide to limit any future revisions to your book. IngramSpark charges $25 per revision after your book has been uploaded to the site.
Once you’re ready, follow these steps to create your account:
- Sign up for an account and approve the activation email that IngramSpark will send you.
- Complete setting your account up, which includes adding business information and your payment method.
- Upload your book, choosing whether you wish to publish a print book and/or eBook. Here you’ll need information like the title, ISBN, and trim size (if you’re taking the print book route). You’ll need to provide retail pricing and payment info at this stage.
- IngramSpark will then review your submission over the course of several days. Once it’s approved, you can begin distributing through their network and monitor sales reports via the reports dashboard.
What to Know About IngramSpark Publishing and Pricing
IngramSpark doesn’t charge for just one part of the publication process. In total, they charge authors for:
- Uploading a book to their site
- Royalties on print titles
- Revisions made to uploaded books
- Book printing (which will include handling and shipping fees)
Here’s how much it costs to upload a book to IngramSpark:
As we mentioned, IngramSpark also charges royalties. We suggest using their book calculator to estimate the cost. You can also use this calculator to estimate charges for printing and shipping books.
If you have to make revisions to your book at any point, keep in mind that these cost $25 per adjustment. This can be time-consuming and costly so make sure your book is in its finest form prior to submitting.
While the costs of IngramSpark may scare away some authors, remember that their services include the following:
- Distribution to a selection of 40,000+ retailers
- Sales reporting
- Publishing tools (like downloadable guides)
- Publisher services discounts
- Customer support 24/7
- Ad opportunities
- Access to IngramSpark’s book building tool (cover design)
Pros and Cons of IngramSpark Publishing
There are huge benefits to publishing through a service like IngramSpark. For one thing, the sheer volume of retailers they have relationships with speaks for itself.
However, there are always some drawbacks that come with the good. Take a look at the pros and cons of IngramSpark to decide if this is the right publishing method for you:
Benefits to using IngramSpark
- Access many retailers in one place
- The beauty of a service like IngramSpark is that it puts authors in touch with a huge amount (40,000+ to be exact) of retailers. This number far outweighs what any indie author could reach by themselves.
- Print exactly what you need
- Don’t overprint. Pay for the printing costs of the exact number of books that you need. Print on demand is widely praised for its efficiency for authors.
- Access free resources on the IngramSpark website
- IngramSpark has an impressive number of free resources on their website, like guides to creating book covers and even a training academy for those who are new to self-publishing.
Drawbacks to using IngramSpark
- Not all retailers will accept your book
- Unfortunately not every store that works with IngramSpark will put your book on display. While you will have a large number of retailers at your fingertips by publishing through IngramSpark, it is up to each individual store to decide if they stock your title.
- Pricing is not always clear
- IngramSpark has several different ways for charging its authors. As you’ve seen, there are upfront costs as well as charges for revisions.
- The platform isn’t intuitive
- If you’re a brand new self-publisher or have never used IngramSpark, the learning curve is going to be steep. On the plus side, IngramSpark offers 24/7 customer service to answer questions as they arise.
IngramSpark is arguably the most well-known book distribution service for a reason. They’re the largest, they provide a robust library of free resources, and they’ve nailed down the art of printing on demand. However, IngramSpark isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t worried about distributing your book globally, this service likely isn’t for you.
If you’re interested in accessing guides to additional distribution services like IngramSpark, be sure to sign up for the Written Word Media newsletter. We send emails about everything indie authors need to know at each stage of the author journey.
Have anything to add about IngramSpark? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.