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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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I noticed that recently Kindle publishing started offering an option to produce a paperback version of your e-book once it is uploaded. That seems only fair. Createspace, another Amazon company, has been offering to produce the Kindle version of paperback books for a while.

I’ve never taken advantage of either option. Why? Because despite the convenience of having to do set-up only once and working with a single publisher dashboard, the finished versions aren’t compatible.

I discovered a long time ago that the best way to ensure that my Createspace-printed book looks just the way I want it to is to upload a .pdf version of the interior. I discovered this after spending a couple hours trying to tweak a Word document that I was uploading. Even though I was using a Createspace template and everything looked fine, when I reviewed the uploaded document before publishing it, something had always changed. For instance, a line would roll to the next page. This caused a domino effect that threw off the pagination throughout the document.

 

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Screenshot of Kindle Direct Publishing offering to publish the paperback version of an e-book.

 

My solution to this problem was to save my Word file as a .pdf before I uploaded it, and the problems I had vanished. I’m not sure what the difference was between me saving the document as a .pdf first and then uploading or Createspace saving the document as a .pdf after I uploaded it, but it made all the difference in the world.

Somehow the uploading process changed my document. Saving it as a .pdf first locked everything into place. The pagination, images, and fonts were all saved and fixed in place.

While this works great for getting my paperback layouts right, it isn’t so nice for e-books. E-book documents need to be able to change fonts, point size, and margins. Sure, Kindle can publish a .pdf, but with everything locked in place, your Kindle or e-reader is going to show each book page as a screen page. I do some of my reading on my phone. Just imagine how a page from a book would look if it was condensed down to a 2×4 inch screen. To make an e-book work best, I upload a Word document.

Since I need to upload two files—one for my paperback version and one for my Kindle version—, I need to publish both separately.

If you don’t have problems with uploading Word files on Createspace, then publishing your e-book should be no problem. However, I’ve run into other writers who have had the same problem I’ve had with Word documents. I told them my secret of saving it as a .pdf, and most of their publishing issues have disappeared.

So while it’s another option to have with Createspace, you may cause yourself more headaches if you aren’t careful about how you use it.

I saw that Amazon Publishing now has a digital short story imprint called StoryFront. I have always thought that e-publishing is great for short pieces. Witness the success of Kindle Singles.

Here are some of the reasons I like to e-publish short fiction:

  • An author can write a novella or short story and package it with a sneak peek at an upcoming novel. It serves as a great marketing tool.
  • An author who wants to enter a particular genre can test the waters with a short novella and see what kind of response he or she gets.
  • Since the short fiction magazine market tends to pay poorly, writers can get the rights to their stories and format them for e-books and hopefully, earn more than they did as magazine articles.
  • Each short e-book gives an author additional exposure, putting their name out just as often as a novel would.
  • Short e-books allow potential readers the opportunity to see if they like an author’s writing style without having to pay $5-$8 for a novel.
  • Short e-books make great books to use as promotional giveaways in an author’s marketing program.

As for the new Amazon imprint, I will look into it more and maybe even submit something to see how the response compares to what I get with my existing short e-books.

Here’s a link to a story about Amazon’s StoryFront launch.

 

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