Thursday, December 4, 2014

Posting Your Books On IngramSpark – A Primer

An author needs their books everywhere: online, ebooks, blogs, Amazon, and in bookstores. The urban legend is that independent bookstores won’t carry books from Amazon (though I have heard that, like many legends, this one is not totally true or is changing). The belief is that Amazon was/is/will be, the evil empire, and as such indie-bookstores won’t buy their product (actually your product is from their subsidiary CreateSpace), is changing.

With some help from the bookstore industry and the need to access the growing world of self-publishing, Ingram Content Group (and owns Lightning Source printing) decided to see what they could do to help get our books onto the shelves of bookstores and libraries. They created IngramSpark, a division that gets your book into the world’s largest distribution chain. While paper books aren’t a great moneymaker for me (CreateSpace) at the moment, I decided to grow a bit and give IngramSpark a chance.

Ingram is very similar to CreateSpace in that it takes YOUR cover and content files and then builds a book to your specs. So remember the responsibility for a great looking book is YOURS – not Ingrams. All aspects are under your control from cover art, cover finish, text formatting, and price. Ingram is just a distributor that gets your book into its huge distribution chain.

Here is what you need to do to get your books into Ingram:

Step 1
Sign up at IngramSpark HERE:
Be ready with your completed files for cover art and interior text. They request PDF formats in the PDF/X-1a:2001 format. Like many of the various PDF formats I haven’t a clue as to why this one, just make sure your files are saved in this Standard. If you don’t, you will be prompted to update and replace.

Step 2
Open your Dashboard and click on Add a New Title.

This is a six-step process that walks you through placing your book into their system. Be prepared before you start to know ALL the aspects of your book: size, publisher, matte or gloss cover, descriptive text, interior paper type (white or cream), etc. They also do e-books from your files – I don’t know how this works, I keep my ebooks on Amazon. So I open by only selecting Print Only in the first box at the top. Then the imprint input (your choice but you need to have one – now is the time to step up and become your own publisher), then the title, subtitle and language.

Step 3
Post contributor – that’s normally you as the author. Then subjects, this is like the keywords in Amazon, please put a lot of thinking into this. This is where your book will be searched in Ingram’s huge database. Their’s is a tough search system, start with FICTION in the search and grow from there – there are only 78 pages of potential Subject Code selections. Then post Description – critical information here.
This is what they suggest (and a minimum of 200 words):
This brief description of the book will be communicated to distribution partners who wish to describe and market the book on their website(s) and to their customers.
IngramSpark recommends that you provide a book description for all new books, to assist booksellers in presenting your books to their customers.
The book description should be at least 200 characters, but should not exceed 4,000 characters including spaces. In addition, no HTML tagging, bullets, or other special formatting should be embedded.

See, I told you to be prepared before you start.

Step 4
Trim Size is obvious (especially if you are moving over from CreateSpace or other POD), select the size. Interior color options are white and crème. I have not printed anything in color yet but there are options here if that’s your book. Select binding, then cover finish. Lastly for this step is page count – remember to include front and back pages, table of contents, index’s, appendix, etc. The need here is to compute the thickness of your book (which of course you know down to the hundredth of an inch). If not, go to their template page and information site under HELP and review the File Creation Guide and Checklists – very helpful.

Step 5
Load ISBNs here. Critical Note:
I create a DIFFERENT ISBN number for the books I load onto IngramSpark. Obviously every version of your book (ebook, paper, etc.) needs its own and different ISBN number – yes, really it does! So I load at Bowkers, in my ISBN schedule, a new number for the Ingram version. This is to reduce confusion when a bookstore or library orders the book – it goes directly to Ingram and is not confused with CreateSpace or other distribution channel.

Now add your price for the book, publication dates (past or future as required).

Step 6
Here is where you drop your files for the interior and cover. Straight forward.

Subsequent steps:
Proceed on through the various pages as directed. Here you have opportunities to be listed in their monthly catalog release of new/old books as well as other promotional opportunities. No rush here, but keep this in mind as a way to market your titles in the future.

It will take a day or three for Ingram to review your files for compatibility, if a problem they will notify you through your email. It will also be posted at the top of your dashboard if there is a message. There are various buttons to push that will help explain any issues, they are in the specific title that you submitted. Their phone help is great, sometime there is a wait, but they do know what they are doing and do help.

You cannot beat CreateSpace – most everything except ordering physical books is free. Ingram charges $49.00 for placing every title in their system (paper and ebook for the same price), this will be billed to the ‘on file’ credit card you placed when you set up your account (this also includes info on transferring funds, tax info, etc. Be prepared when you start). Marketing and catalog placements start at $60.00 each.

There are many reasons for getting you books onto Ingram, the most important being access to their distribution system. The costs are not great considering what it cost to get your book to the point of being sold (cover artwork, editing, formatting, etc.)

I will keep you posted as to what my ongoing experience is with IngramSpark over the next year.

More Later . . . . . . . .

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