Chris A. Baird | April 5, 2023
IngramSpark Review [2023] - READ THIS Before You Use Them!

Have you heard about IngramSpark? Here are the key points that you must take into account before using IngramSpark review for 2023.

One of the most common questions I get from many writers is, "Is there another option for Amazon?" The answer is yes, there is, and it's IngramSpark. So, today, we are going to be discussing an IngramSpark review for 2023.

Before you use them, I'm going to be going through a lot of points, so you're going to want to stick around as I'm moving through all the deep ends of the pool when it comes to IngramSpark in a way I've not done before.

But, what exactly are we going to cover in this IngramSpark review, and what exactly do we want to remember about IngramSpark? Well, IngramSpark is a self-publishing platform that allows authors to publish and distribute their books in both print and digital formats.

Now, I know it sounds a lot like Amazon, and the platform itself is owned by the Ingram Content Group, which is the world's largest distributor. You may be thinking that Amazon is bigger, but you are incorrect. It is IngramSpark.

They offer a wide range of formats to publish from, including paperback, hardcover, and e-book versions. They provide a pile of different tools that authors can use to create these specific ones. One thing I really think is cool is their partnership with Findaway Voices, which allows you to produce audiobooks from your IngramSpark books. This is really good news for authors. 

The other thing is they offer volume discounts if you're buying a lot of books at the same time, which is something many of these other platforms do not offer, including Amazon, at least last time I checked.

Feature Overview

Let's discuss some features to keep in mind. When it comes to IngramSpark, here are the top features that you’ll love.

Quality print-on-demand books

Firstly, they offer quality print-on-demand books. They use high-quality printing technology, and the printers and the things they're using specifically to print are insanely good and very accurate. 

So, you're not going to find the smudging and a lot of these other issues you have with lower-quality distributors. They have a professional-grade paper that is not going to have a lot of issues that low-quality paper has. 

They also have quality control to ensure that all of the books that are coming out are of really high quality through IngramSpark. They have multiple printing facilities globally to ensure the least amount of time in getting the books printed and sent in the mail. 

They print on demand for their paperbacks and their hardback books, so they're not sitting on a pile of your books. If they see a lot of sales, sometimes there will be a purchase, but otherwise, they don't have a lot of extra books just lying around.

Steep learning curves for non-techies

However, IngramSpark does have a steep learning curve when it comes to filing preparation, especially for non-techies. You have to have the files in the exact formats that use EPUBs, and understanding how to use their templates properly can take a bit of time. 

Even when you upload the files, it can be very difficult because the platform navigation is a little bit tricky. It's not as intuitive as Amazon's as you're moving around. They have their old reports and such versus their new ones, and that makes it difficult.

Check out this related article: How To Write The World's Best-Selling Book on AMAZON

Finally, their marketing and promotion are somewhat limited compared to the massive ads and marketing services that Amazon uses. I might have put out 200 million ads, and my ads have been seen on Amazon. 

However, I haven't found the same way of running ads on Ingramspark for my books. There are sales tracking challenges, which is maybe one of the bigger ones for me. When we're working through and getting sales, we have the new sales reports and the old ones. If I want to take it to Excel and just show me the dates the sales are made, I can't get that information. 

So, I sort of have to do it manually day by day to see how the sales are coming across on Ingramspark. That can be a bit of a challenge if you're not a technical person and you're trying to figure out how to use the site correctly.

Access to the widest network of brick-and-mortar stores

The next thing is that you have access to the widest network of brick-and-mortar stores, and this is something a lot of authors want to have. You have print on demand, so they're able to print the books out, but with a different distribution. 

You have major retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and independent bookstores that are all using Ingramspark that allow you to do it. Amazon also ships the books right through, and you can find yourself having your books competing against them. 

This happens to me all the time where you'll have so many types and certain keywords and outcomes, the same book a couple of times, which I don't care one way or the other, as long as my book is on that platform and taking up lots of space on the first page of those search results on Amazon. 

I'm okay with the fact that my Ingramspark books mostly this is because I'm not using the same ISBN codes on the two different platforms. On Ingramspark, you're going to have to supply your own, but we'll hit that in a bit. The next thing is the global print network. As we said, they have these machines all over the planet that can produce print-on-demand books, making it very easy to distribute your books.

And the brick-and-mortar partnerships, one of the ones I did not mention was Books-a-Million, where you can also order your books, and they can be stocked inside the physical stores, which is exciting for a self-publisher who's looking to have your books in the physical stores. That's an option there when it comes to Ingramspark.

A way to wean yourself off Amazon

So, Ingramspark serves as a way to wean yourself off Amazon if you don't want to use Amazon. There are lots of reasons I'm not going to get into, but it could be maybe the CEO or the practices or how they deal with their employees or many of these other things that there are a couple of good reasons. One of the things is good ways to do it is they have multiple distribution channels.

So you don't have to worry if you're going with IngramSpark which gives you that flexibility. We have a wide range of available formats, so it's able to compete completely with Amazon in terms of the number of formats. 

Check out this related article: How To Format Your Books For AMAZON KDP

You have author-friendly pricing unlike Amazon, and you can control much more detail upon the pricing and in terms of the percentages that are going to be coming back to you. Again, the professional quality printing makes it a great substitute for Amazon if that's something you're looking for. 

IngramSpark Pricing

But let's talk a little bit about IngramSpark pricing. Well, the setup fees are maybe one of the biggest challenges for a lot of authors. If you're going to do an e-book, it's going to cost you $25. If you're going to do a paperback and ebook together, you can do it for $50, which is probably a really good idea to do them both together. 

Also, they have promo codes that will give you the ability to not have to pay the setup fees on IngramSpark or if you join the Alliance of Independent Authors, you will get so many promo codes. But I can say I've used all of my apps. 

I think it was like 60 you're allowed to use per year. I've already used it for 60 books on IngramSpark for this year, so that creates a little bit of a challenge there, right? You also have again, so you have the e-books you have the print-on-demand fees.

I think the print demand, they were also $25, but it might have been $50, and then they would also include the e-books if you pay $50. I think they were included; e-books would normally cost $25 by themselves, so it encourages you to do both formats. 

And if you're using the course that I teach, Jutoh to go through how exactly to format your book yourself, it's a single click to get the e-book version versus the paperback version. The paperback version has to go to a different file, and then they can produce the PDF. 

Otherwise, this is something you're going to want to go for both at the same time and especially when they're connected with Findaway Voices. Oh my goodness, it's a really good deal. They do have distribution fees.

So, based on the distribution and the options available, it can be very chaotic. There are all sorts of choices, and people want to be able to be destructive, return it here, can they do this, can do that, generally want massive global distribution. 

So, I answer yes to all of the questions that will get my books in the hands of more people, and I don't care how it gets into their hands, so that's fine for me. They can take their royalties, but I can say the sales on IngramSpark are phenomenal compared to Amazon.

The other one is additional services like editing, cover design, marketing, and for an additional fee, but you're going to have to pay if you want to do it. 

Pros and Cons of IngramSpark

So, what are the pros and cons of IngramSpark? Well, the pros are this wide distribution, professional quality printing, and author-friendly pricing that we have. Where we're able to control ourselves in multiple formats. So that's not a challenge, and customer support can be helpful, though I would say that sometimes they have to live with the technology.

As I've said before, the menus inside the software and some of the reports that they have are terrible compared to other sites better than Lulu, but not anywhere near as good as Amazon when it comes to just taking out some basic reports I want to pull out and look and explore in Excel. 

Some things are missing and columns that shouldn't be there are there, so that's a couple of the things I don't particularly care for. But here are some of the cons as well. You have a steep learning curve. As we said, if you're a non-techie, this can be a bit of a challenge, and those upfront costs can rule it out, especially since they do not supply.

This may already be done in the US, but they are talking about ISBN codes. Otherwise, a single ISBN costs $125. If you add the 50 review fees on top of that, it can become challenging, and you may need to take a trip to the bank to get a loan to put out the books. 

This can be avoided if you buy ISBNs in bulk or get free promo codes by finding out what they are for the month or by contacting or joining the Alliance for Independent Authors' second-tier platform. You can find my affiliate link below in the description, and it doesn't cost you anything extra. 

By the way, when you buy through affiliate links, it costs nothing extra. Just make sure to ask for the affiliate link of the people you respect to ensure they get paid for the useful service of informing you when it comes to this sort of information.

That's one of the reasons why I use affiliate links on all the products I'm using regularly, assuming they have them. The next con is limited marketing support. So, there's not the same level of marketing support that we have on Amazon.

IngramSpark vs KDP

Speaking of Ingramspark versus KDP, we're trying to decide between the two. KDP has a bigger audience but fewer distribution channels, which is a bit of a challenge. One option, of course, is to go with both. KDP has way better reports and responds faster, which is so true. 

They can respond to your questions and are more or less competent for most of the questions you're asking. But their support will send you bots and targeted emails saying that somebody's questioning your rights to this book you wrote yourself. You have to prove you own it, and I don't ever see this sort of message coming from Ingramspark.

They are not playing this game with robots looking at my documents, which is something I don't appreciate that Amazon does regularly. Ingramspark charges upfront, which is something you can do for free if you do it through Amazon, but that may discourage people from publishing through them, which means they're going to make fewer sales. 

You get better sales on Ingramspark, even with no reviews. That's the biggest discovery I made. I could not believe it when somebody told me, "Hey, put your books on Ingramspark," and I said, "Why would I do that? I already have a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. Why would I go to another platform?"

The answer is this massive distribution network, and for whatever reason, they seem to get a lot of sales on that platform. The other is that the pricing on Ingramspark is better for authors and a lot more flexible, but with the flexibility comes a lot of confusion about these terms and filling in all these numbers. 

It can be so confusing, and you can get bogged down in that for a long time. I can tell you from my own experience when dealing with Ingramspark that it makes a lot more money for me on paperback sales than I do on Amazon. 

Check out this related article: How To Get Motivated As A Self-Publisher

My sales this year are already almost double what they were a year ago on Ingramspark because I'm pushing hard, joining when I joined the Alliance for Independent Authors, which is a fantastic service. Their podcast is also great, and I was working through their promo codes until I pretty much used up everything for last year and this year.

So we did the best we could, but now it looks like if you want to put them on there, you have to pay $50. But sometimes we put books on there, and I'm seeing something like 10 sales, and that's $50 right there so that pays for the next book you want to put onto the platform. It's something to consider.

Is IngramSpark right for you?

What I want to know is, is IngramSpark right for you? Well, it depends on a lot of different factors. One of the biggest ones is, do you have the technical ability to put the books together in a way that's going to get them out there? If you're taking my course, using Jutoh for book formatting, well then, it's not a problem because it's able to spit it out in the right format for you. 

But you are still going to have to get the cover formatted, which you can do through Fiverr, to get it out onto IngramSpark and sell it. And to give it a chance, take your best-selling book on Amazon, put it on IngramSpark, and let's just see what happens. My question for you is, have you published any of your books on IngramSpark?

  1. Thank you Chris for this valuable information.

    I am a new author. I had my book published through a publishing service. The service uses Ingram for distribution. but some Chapters/Indigo stores in Canada do not use US distributors, only Canadian distributors. So, I'm now looking to distribute my book through Canadian distributors to get them into these stores. I'm not sure whether IngramSpark meets this criteria, but I will contact the store managers to find out. I really don't want to do consignment, basically making $0.00 per book.

    Anyway, IngramSpark sounds like it could help with some of my distribution conundrums. I'm rather techy, so that part does not intimidate me.

    I appreciate the heads-up about Alliance of Independent Authors and Jutoh. I'll be lloking into these.

    Have a great day.

    1. Hi Cecile,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, Ingram Spark is a definitely worth exploring.

      Let me know how it works for you.

      Best Regards,

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