Pros and Cons of Using IngramSpark
Every 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.
#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”]