Pros and Cons of Using IngramSpark

Pros and Cons of Using IngramSpark
October 12, 2016 3 Comments Writing Advice A.M. Rycroft

pros-consEvery indie publishing platform has its good side and bad side. It’s important for you as an indie publisher to know what you’re getting into ahead of time. Last month, I covered what IngramSpark is. This month, I’m discussing the main benefits and drawbacks of this platform.

The Pros to Using IngramSpark

#1 Excellent Quality

I have tried a lot of different POD platforms, and I can honestly say that you will never find a better quality POD book. Ingram-produced books are often as good as offset-printed books. Their packing and handling teams are top-notch as well. Out of all the shipments I’ve received, I’ve only had to enter two damage reports, which were resolved quickly. Shipping is also faster than shipments from CreateSpace and Lulu.

#2 Professional Title Setup

IngramSpark’s setup and dashboard systems are as close to what the big boys use for their title management systems as you will find from a POD. There are a lot of things you can tweak when it comes to setting up your titles, like your short and long descriptions, BISAC Subject, and keywords. The dashboard puts everything you need to know at a glance: your titles, sales over the last 30 days, and best selling title. There is also a comprehensive reporting system.

IngramSpark dashboard

Here’s a screenshot of Mighty Quill Books’s dashboard.

#3 The Largest Distribution Network

With over 10,000 distribution partners, Ingram’s distribution list is the largest around. Many other POD platforms like CreateSpace and Lulu utilize Ingram’s distribution list for their “Extended Distribution” sales channels. However, you lose some of your royalties for using those extended channels. There is no royalty penalty when you use IngramSpark as your POD.

#4 Responsive Support

As I mentioned above, IngramSpark’s support team is top-notch. It’s also very responsive when you call them or utilize the chat feature. Emails to their support team often take 72 hours for a response, unless I submitted a damage report. For anything urgent, however, I recommend users call Support directly. The support reps do everything in their power to help right your situation.

Here’s a personal example. I had a printing mishap when I ordered books for an event, and Support walked my order through their printing system for me. They even upped my shipping to Overnight Air for no extra charge so that I’d have my books on time.

[bctt tweet=”@IngramSpark has top notch #support. @amrycroftwriter #publishingtips #indie #author #writingtips #ourwriteside” username=”OurWriteSide”]

The Cons to Using IngramSpark

#1 Setup and Change Fees

Unlike with some other popular POD platforms, setting up a new title or making changes to an existing title costs you money. To set up a new title as print and ebook, or print only, it will cost you $49. To revise an existing title’s cover or interior, it costs $25. To update both, it costs $50.

While the update fees in particular may seem harsh, I have it straight from an IngramSpark representative that there are very good reasons for these fees.

It costs their people time (and therefore, the company money) each time you request an update to your files, because the files must go through a manual vetting process to ensure the print-readiness of your files. Because of this, Ingram wants to discourage you from making frequent changes to your files. Some CreateSpace users change their files multiple times in the course of one week, because of an inattention to details. IngramSpark wants to discourage this practice and does so by hitting you in the wallet. Harsh, yes. Fair, yes.

#2 The Learning Curve

While IngramSpark has help files to guide you through the title setup process, they are not as comprehensive as they could be. This makes for a higher learning curve to IngramSpark than with other PODs. There are also more steps to setting up your titles, and some terms used during setup aren’t common knowledge to newer indie publishers.

For example, many people don’t know what a BISAC Subject is or how best to select the Subjects for your title. Selecting the wrong BISAC Subjects hampers retailers and libraries from finding your title. A simple Google search will help you with BISAC Subjects though, and I think this is knowledge worth having for indie publishers anyhow. Still, it’s a little upfront research required on your part.

#3 Printing Costs are Higher

While IngramSpark’s printing costs are not as expensive as Lulu and other popular PODs, you pay more per book through IS than for titles printed by CreateSpace. With higher quantity purchases, you get a per book printing discount. Just be aware that on average, you will pay about $1 more per book printed by IS than through CS. Personally, I think Pro #1 trumps this Con however.

Finally, The Takeaway

No POD platform is perfect. You need to weigh the pros and cons of each, and decide for yourself whether the platform’s pros outweigh the cons. For my titles, IngramSpark’s pros will always outweigh any of their cons. They are my go-to source whenever I need books printed for an upcoming event.

[bctt tweet=”A look inside the pros and cons of @IngramSpark for #indie #authors. @amrycroftwriter #writingtips #publishingtips #writerslife #amreading #ourwriteside” username=”OurWriteSide”]

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A.M. Rycroft A.M. Rycroft is a dark fantasy and horror writer, and blogger. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been writing since a young age, and though she attended art school for a time, she found her way back to writing again after art school. Her first dark fantasy/horror novel Into the Darkness was written while she attended the University of Pittsburgh. Her writing has been compared to the works of David Eddings and Stephen King. When she is not writing, Rycroft is a writing coach and a periodic cartoonist. She enjoys keeping fit with weight training and walks through her local parks. During the summer, A.M. is frequently seen riding the roller coasters at the Kennywood amusement park.
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  1. 3 Comments

    Linda G. Hill

    Thank you so much for this! I’m at the stage where I have to start thinking about POD companies. Living in Canada, Ingram Spark makes the most sense for me, as with Createspace I’d actually lose money on each book if I tried to distribute them here at home.
    I have a question for you: do you distribute outside the US? And if so, are IS able to print local currency on the books?

    Reply
    1. 3 Comments

      A.M. Rycroft

      Great question, and congratulations on reaching the next stage of your publishing journey!

      I have heard from other international indie authors/publishers across several countries that CreateSpace makes printing and selling paperbacks difficult for them, so you’re definitely not alone. I’m based in the US, but I distribute internationally, too — Canada, Europe, and beyond. Setting this up is as easy as (1) establish a price for each international channel, (2) select a wholesale discount (if applicable), and (3) select whether or not the title is returnable (I recommend “Yes/Destroy” over “Yes/Return”, which can result in chargebacks).

      As to your question about currency, I believe the currency you will see during setup is indeed your local currency. Additionally, if you were to ask Ingram to print the barcode on the back of your book with the price inserted, it would be done in Canadian dollars. I don’t believe, however, that if your books are printed for a buyer or retailer in say Brazil that they would see their local currency on the barcode. I think it would still be in Canadian dollars. I’m not sure that matters too much, however, as local retailers are free to place whatever labels they choose on your book once they receive it.

      Reply
  2. 3 Comments

    Grace

    Great article. I use Ingram Spark and must say their support is great and their printing is very good quality.

    Reply

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