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logo2xFollowing up on my previous post, here are some of the pros and cons that I have found working with IngramSpark.

.pdf Files

I find both IngramSpark and CreateSpace relatively easy to work with, especially if you upload .pdf files instead of .doc files. One author I gave this tip to, told me later that it eliminated 90 percent of the problems that he was having with getting his book published on CreateSpace. A .pdf file locks in your fonts and placement of text and images.

TIP: Upload .pdf files when publishing paperback books.

I found that even when I used a CreateSpace template and uploaded a Word document, the last line of text on a page might rollover to the next page, throwing off my entire document.

Cover templates

I like the cover template tool on IngramSpark. Rather than having to make calculations like I do with CreateSpace, I plug in the dimensions of the books, the number of pages, and the type of book I’m publishing. Then I’m sent a template via e-mail. That said, I’ve done three of four books using the template, but right now, I’m having some problems getting my new cover through the system. I’m not sure yet what the problem is.

Currency conversion

I wish IngramSpark automatically converted U.S. prices to foreign prices as CreateSpace does. I have to enter my U.S. price into an online currency converter four different ways and then enter the foreign prices into my IngramSpark set-up. It’s not a major inconvenience, but it is a pain to do.

ISBNs

The biggest headache that I’ve had with setting up my books on IngramSpark has been with ISBNs. I have my own ISBNs and ISBNs that I thought I had purchased from CreateSpace. There was a time, if you had a Bowker’s publisher code, you could purchase a $10 ISBN from CreateSpace that would show your company as the publisher. Thus, you avoided the problem of a free ISBN that showed CreateSpace as the book publisher, which some indie bookstores hesitate to support, or the custom $99 ISBN.

TIP: Set up a publisher account with Bowkers.com and purchase 10 ISBNs for $250. It’s cheaper than publishing a custom ISBN from either CreateSpace or IngramSpark, and you will own the ISBN.

To transfer my book titles to IngramSpark, the first thing you need to do is remove the CreateSpace book from any of the expanded distribution options you might have selected. Then you have to submit a Title Transfer Addendum to IngramSpark. This is supposed to only take a few days, but my experience with transferring half a dozen books, it has taken weeks. The transfer needs to happen, or you can’t complete the IngramSpark set-up process.

TIP: Set up your Ingram paperback first with your own ISBN. Then while the files are being reviewed, set up the CreateSpace paperback. I did this, and the process went smoothly with no delays.

I got a shock when I was told that I wouldn’t be able to transfer some of my ISBNs. These were the ones that had an ISBN that I purchased for $10 from CreateSpace. I thought were mine (they even show on my Bowker’s page), but I was told that these ISBNs are still owned by CreateSpace and won’t transfer.

To get around this, I have to set up a new version of my book using my ISBN and publish a new edition. Then I have to unpublish the other edition.

The end game

Transferring files and setting up a new edition on a new site is a pain, but my hope is that the end result will be that more stores are willing to carry my books. That will translate to increased sales, and that makes it worth the inconvenience.

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logo2xI’ve been slowly shifting the distribution of my books from CreateSpace to IngramSpark. Both services make physical copies of books available through Ingram. However, I discovered that CreateSpace apparently doesn’t offer the typical 40 percent discount to bookstores. This makes it a deterrent to bookstores to carry CreateSpace books.

While IngramSpark offers a better discount to booksellers, it costs more to print books with IngramSpark. Also, books printed with IngramSpark apparently show with a shipping delay on Amazon.com.

You can have the advantages of both, though. You accomplish this by listing your book with IngramSpark and CreateSpace (without choosing the expanded distribution options). Doing this, you have your book listed on Amazon.com with no shipping delays, and you can order physical copies at the better price from CreateSpace. At the same time, bookstores can order your books with the typical discounts from IngramSparklogo-csp-no-tm

The other advantage you get with using IngramSpark is that you can publish your book in hardback format. I don’t expect many hardback sales, but I like that I can offer the book. I have two books that I’ve always been disappointed that I couldn’t publish as hardback because they are designed to be more like a tabletop book. They were the first two hardbacks that I set up on CreateSpace, and I was happy with the finished product.

Now, I’m not saying having your book in IngramSpark will get your book into stores, but it will help. Barnes & Noble still doesn’t like stocking print-on-demand books, but I have found other chains willing to offer my books (at least at a local level) when they can get a standard discount. This actually confuses me because I was willing to offer those stores a better deal than they could get through Ingram if they dealt with me directly. Corporate policy wouldn’t allow it, though. Go figure.

For now, take a look at IngramSpark. Get your account set up and familiarize yourself with what’s on the site.

Next week, I’ll talk about the hiccups that I’ve run into and how I’m working around them.

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My two-table set up for weekend festivals.

Having a strong backlist of books is great for a writer. When I sell books at festivals, I am able to have a large display of different covers, genres, and sizes of books to attract readers. In fact, last year my show display grew from one table to two tables. A backlist also means that I have multiple ways to attract readers. Each title gives me a new opportunity to catch a reader’s eye.

 

That’s all great.

However, I’ve run into a drawback with having a library of 18 books, and it has been driving me crazy this past month.

Grammarly Review

I have started running all of my books through Grammarly to catch any mistakes my editors, readers, and I missed when the book was originally published. Surprisingly, given how many eyes were on the manuscripts, I have found too many. Running 18 books and a half a dozen e-books through the program takes times. I started doing this in December, and it could very well continue until next December.

Review Request

Since I  was reviewing each book, I also decided to make sure that all of the electronic editions had a review request at the back. I haven’t worried up until not about getting readers to post reviews of my books online. That delay has come back to bite me recently as I have tried to expand some of my marketing efforts. Some places that I have wanted to use to market my books want to see more reviews of the books. So I’ve had to detour some of my marketing in order to increase my Amazon.com reviews.

Book Descriptions

Last month, I learned some new techniques for writing book descriptions that I have also started applying to my book pages as I update them. This is not a single update. I need to make changes to a book on four different websites (Amazon, KDP, Smashwords, and Bowkers) to make sure the descriptions are all the same.

Hardback Editions

I recently discovered a way to accomplish two things that I have wanted to do for years. When I switched from doing offset printing to print-on-demand through Createspace, I stopped being able to get my books into physical chain bookstores. The three reason I heard for this were that the stores couldn’t get their typical discount when purchasing the books, they didn’t want to support Amazon.com, and stores can’t return print-on-demand books.

Up until now, I haven’t worried too much about it. I  have been making most of my sales through other channels. However, as my marketing efforts expand, I have started running into this roadblock more often.

I have discovered a way to use Ingram Spark and Createspace together. I can still get the books that I sell through Createspace, and customers purchasing books on Amazon will still see the books always in stock. Meanwhile, I can use Ingram Spark to get my books into the chain stores and offer a hardback edition.

I have wanted to offer hardbacks since I wrote No North, No South… It is an oversized book, which is typically printed as a hardback.  Since that time, I’ve written another tabletop book and a couple novels that I would have like to offer as hardbacks.

All of these are useful things for me to do. They each will have benefits to help me continue moving my career forwards. I recommend authors do all of these things. It’s just that having to do all of these things for all of my books is very, very time-consuming.

It’s happening, albeit slowly, but I’m excited to see the results.

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Lots and lost of offset signatures ready to be folded, cut, and bound into pages.

My writer’s group had the opportunity to tour Sheridan Press in Hanover, Pa., last week. One member had printed her book with them and another member had worked for them previous.

This particular location can do offset as well as digital printing. It began as a small company in 1915 that printed a single poultry publication that went out to 100,000 people. Today, it had multiple locations and prints magazines and journals as well as books.

There is definitely a lot more work that goes into printing offset and although our guide said that she could tell the difference, I can’t see it.

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Polybagged journals getting shipping labels.

I was also surprised that with all of the automation involved in printing, how much still needs to be done by hand. The more your project has something that needs to be done by hand, the more expensive the project will be.

Walking through the plant gave me a much better understanding of what happens to a manuscript when it goes to the printer. It gave me an appreciation for what I’m paying for. This is a double-edged sword.

While I now understand better why offset can give you a price break that print-on-demand can’t when you order more books, I also see that the cost many printers charge for print-on-demand corrections is ridiculous.

And anything that helps me better understand the industry is a good thing.

Here are some additional shots that I took during the tour.

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The high-speed print-on-demand machine sends the paper in a continuous line through printing on one side and then the other before the paper is cut into individual pages.

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Checking the signatures coming off the press to make sure everything looks good.

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