Chris A. Baird | February 14, 2024

So, you're ready to go beyond Amazon, and you're looking for what other platforms might be the best choice for you. Well, it might be that IngramSpark is the next stop on your self-publishing journey. 

In today's topic, we're going to discuss the IngramSpark Self Publishing Review & Guide in 2023. So, let's get right into it. The first thing we're going to look at is an overview of IngramSpark as a self-publishing platform. 

Overview of IngramSpark as a self-publishing platform

As a self-publishing platform, it means that you're going to be able to take the books that you've generated already. The main strategy is putting those books on Amazon first. Once the books are on Amazon, then you have the PDF, and you have your cover for at least the ebook version.

So, you're pretty much set because we're going to be able to put this thing directly onto IngramSpark. It's a renowned self-publishing platform that's going to give you even more extensive distribution than Amazon alone. It goes further into other areas that Amazon simply doesn't cover. It provides professional distribution, as we were talking about.

Additionally, you can even put your books back onto Amazon from IngramSpark, which is kind of a funny one – you're competing against your books. The price will be a little bit higher, and it allows you to print on-demand books and ebooks. This also includes producing your hardcover books on IngramSpark.

Now, we are going to get into some of the challenges that we've experienced with IngramSpark, but there are a lot of benefits. Lately, I have made more money on my paperback sales through IngramSpark than I have on Amazon. It's been about a year of continually making more money on IngramSpark.

Benefits and features of IngramSpark

So, what are the benefits and features of IngramSpark? The first thing is you're going to have a global reach because it provides access to a vast distribution network, allowing authors to reach readers worldwide through channels like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

That's the great part of where it leads to, including getting into even libraries. From what I've seen in my experiences, getting your books into those libraries is pretty impressive because it keeps track of these things. People get these things; they donate the books later to libraries and other such things. So, it just makes it a really easy way for people to access your books.

Check out this related article: Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid and Ways to Spot Them

The other benefit is the print-on-demand side of things. You're easily able to put your books as a PDF, let's say for the paperback as the interior file and a PDF for the cover. It does use its templates.

And then that's sufficient; you fill out their information on their forms, and then people just place an order for your book, and the book is printed and sent to them. As opposed to ending up with a garage filled with books like the old days, which was a really bad solution.

The thing is, you're going to have professional-quality, high-quality printing, and binding options where the printing looks good. Now, I can say that some of my clients have had some issues with some of the images not being completely in alignment, and also, some of the black colors inside the books not being as black as black.

But then the question is whether your target readers are going to notice these things, whereas Amazon has other issues in terms of things arriving and sort of being crumpled a little bit or other issues that can create problems for their readers.

Getting Started with IngramSpark

So, the first thing you need to do is create an IngramSpark account, and the beautiful thing is, you just go in there and register. 

Creating an IngramSpark account

You're just going to click on sign up or create an account and then just go through the options. It goes fast in your account setup. You're going to provide all your personal information, your contact information, as well as your banking details because you want to get paid, right?

So, you want to make sure that's all in place, and then we're just going to verification and publishing. You're going to go in there, and after completing the setup, you can begin uploading your books and having them go through. They also have a whole number of guides that will show you exactly how to do the different parts of this.

Understanding account setup and preferences

We have distribution options, and I'm going to tell you to go with the maximum distribution and with the default options. The only difference between them and Amazon is they have a lot more menus and a lot more things to fill out, which can be a little disturbing and a bit too much.

It can be a bit of an overload for some authors when you're getting into Ingramspark. If you get distracted by all of this, just choose the basic options that they have, maximum distribution, and go with that.

Check out this related article: IngramSpark Review 2023 - READ THIS Before You Use Them!

Then you have the pricing and royalties. You can set your pricing to figure out your royalties. As many of my clients know, there are specific strategies to maximize based on what prices do. I'm telling you, I use the same strategies I use on Amazon; I use them right on IngramSpark.

So, that's something you're not going to want to miss. You're going to want to make sure you implement the same strategies there as well.

Now, you are required to provide this metadata, which is easy. We already have that from Amazon, as well as an ISBN, though it can be easily obtained. You can just get one below in the description of my YouTube videos.

My affiliate link for ISBN is a great way to go about getting your book registered for about $20, as opposed to $125 for your ISBN. Getting it registered under an imprint as opposed to just buying your own.

You can get it registered under an existing imprint and save yourself a lot of pain and trouble. You're going to have your book description in there; we're going to put our keywords in there like we already did on Amazon.

This is the beauty of this thing; it's one of the key strategies I'm always focused on. How can you use your previous work in a new context to maximize your sales, using little energy and achieving a large outcome and results as a result of that? That is key there, and it's going to give you the potential based upon those titles.

Stuff like keywords, as we discussed in our Amazon review articles, to reach potential readers, helping them discover the books through other online retailers as well as libraries. I'm always amazed when I look at how many libraries in the world have piles of books on their shelves. It's all over the planet; it's amazing.

Uploading your book and files

You have your file formats; they can accept all the different file formats that you would like for them to have, but really, there are only two you're going to need. One is the PDF format, which gives you the ability then to have the interior and cover of the book for your paperback and hardcover books.

Then you're going to have an EPUB for the interior of your book and just the JPEG you got from your cover designer. When you're looking to do formatting, that's one of the reasons I have a Course on how to do Formatting Made Easy.

It goes through exactly step-by-step how to use this amazing tool called Jutoh to get your book formatted in these different formats without making any problems or mistakes. The other thing I wanted to comment on is you can use the same cover for both your Amazon and your IngramSpark.

That is to say that once you've made your cover order (I have a particular person on Fiverr that I particularly like to use), you can just find my best cover designer and I think she's charging, like up to $25.

If you order in batches, you can go down as low as $10 to $15 a cover. It's unbelievable, but just if you're going to get a single cover, $25 is an insane deal. I was paying $150, $200 a cover when I first started. Then I found this amazing artist-designer who could really do this and just go back and forth until the covers were looking fantastic. 

Book Metadata and Distribution

The next thing is book metadata and distribution. You're going to be adding your book details, title, and description. 

Adding book details, title, and description

First, focus on your title information. Go through the same title and subtitle that you used in your original book. I hope you applied the keyword-stuffing techniques that I teach in my lessons. If you're looking for the exact flow of all of this, you should grab my free Checklist.

You're going to have a compelling description for your book. I like to even use ChatGPT to figure out what that description should look like. So, here's a great strategy: write out a basic description that covers your whole book.

Then, ask ChatGPT to give you a sales copy version of it. You can control the tone—tone it down or tone it up. You can do all sorts of magical things using AI when it comes to the description, and you won't get penalized by Amazon or any other companies like IngramSpark for it.

Next, you'll have your keywords and metadata to include, making it easy for your target readers to find your book. 

Setting pricing and royalty options

Aim for competitive pricing to ensure your book can compete with others. Make sure your pricing isn't too high or too low. In reality, aim for about $5 royalties for paperbacks, and price your ebooks at around $2.99 each. This way, they'll compete well with Amazon.

Now, these prices will be much higher when they get onto Amazon and other platforms than Amazon's books. It's a little disappointing, but it doesn't matter because you also have your books on Amazon, so it's going to go just fine.

Moving on to the royalty selection, you're going to look at the different options they have. We want to maximize distribution, so we are going to allow them to choose no-returns destructive options for our books.

This means I could be charged for this, but considering I'm making so much money off of IngramSpark, I don't even care if they return or destroy the books that are returned to them. That's not a problem.

If you get greedy on this and think, "I only want to do the options that earn me the most and don't involve any risk," they're going to minimize your distribution. Why are you even wasting your time on IngramSpark then?

Check if they are charging you money. No, you're going to be making money off IngramSpark, so it doesn't make any sense. Sometimes, authors get a little bit greedy and think, "I'm going to minimize my distribution so that I can maximize... No, the downside, is the liabilities. What if they return these books, and I have to pay them back?”

I've never had to pay back. They're sending me thousands and thousands of dollars to IngramSpark, but I just don't know—I don't even know what people are talking about. Like, there's a return book here, but I don't care; they can destroy it and take away $15 from my thousands—whatever, it doesn't matter. That's the reason why I like IngramSpark.

Then you have a real-time calculator that provides a real-time estimate of royalties to help authors. This is the same thing you'll find on Amazon. It's just very helpful when you're going about your book. 

Selecting distribution channels and territories

This one's easy; we're going for a wide distribution network. We're going to choose all of the options that are available for our particular thing. We want geographic reach, reaching all of the different regions, and we want print and ebooks.

We're going to make sure that we're using both print and ebooks, maximizing that distribution. We're willing to go with the default options that they have. Say, "Do you want more distribution or less?" - "More, please."

So, sometimes, I will have clients from time to time in my Group Coaching ask, "Well, should I choose this one or should I choose this?" My answer is, to go for the more. When you're trying to decide this sort of thing, that's something I talk about with my group coaching clients.

So, I go back and forth with my clients to help them resolve all of these issues—any issues that they may have. But the speed at which the designer or the software developer tells you, "What are you having a problem with? Let me see if I can help you. Send me the file; I'll see if I can fix it or figure it out.”

But really, I don't do that anymore. Why? Because the program just works; it doesn't give me errors. Only in the beginning is it a little bit of time to figure it out, like any tool, but then after that, it just goes away. Then, for quality standards, you're going to want to make sure it's high quality, so I hope you're using a tool like Jutoh.

Don't even think about using Caliber or Word to upload your file to PDF. That is a terrible idea that's going to give a low user experience and get you negative reviews. So, do yourself a favor and don't do that. 

Cover Design and Interior Formatting

The next thing is on the cover design; IngramSpark allows authors to upload custom cover designs, which is really what you're going to be doing. You're going to be able to choose the trim size and all of that. 

Cover design guidelines and templates

Now, if size matters a lot, then I'd go with Lulu because they have all sorts of additional options. But really, you're going to want to choose 6x9 because it gives you maximum distribution on your books.

Proofing and validation: after you've uploaded it, you're able to review and validate your book-type files. All of the things meet the platform's requirements, and then everything looks good. They usually give some sort of error if you have images in your book, saying there's an issue with spacing or image quality.

However, I've never had any challenges in that regard, and I've never had any clients complain. Everything seems to look good in the result. So, I can't comment too much on that. But I did have a client ask me recently, in my 1-On-1 Program, about how to deal with that.

I said, "Look, I generally just let it go through because, for whatever reason, they complain a lot more than Amazon does.” They might say there are too many dots per inch on the images that are coming through.

Interior formatting specifications

Next is interior formatting and specifications, and you want to be consistent in formatting, making sure it's consistent. That's the reason why, within Jutoh, we use styles to control this so that all of the paragraphs are identically matching.

Do you want to use Times New Roman? No problem set a Times New Roman on that paragraph style, and boom, every paragraph is exactly perfect—the spacing between them, the spacing after paragraphs.

You should never, ever (this is a gold piece of tip for you), be hitting enter or space inside when you're formatting a file. This goes with Word too; this is the funny thing with the 1-On-1 Program that I have when we're talking through stuff. I'm not just teaching you exactly how to do it with books; I'm telling you how this works with every other file you're working on in your life.

I don't know if you work with Excel or Word or PowerPoint or any of these things, but in Google Docs or Google Slides or any of these, I use all of these tools, and the fact is that styles are incredibly powerful, and this is one of the ways you can do this.

So, you're not just going to learn only about the book site; you're also going to learn, in terms of your business in general, about your website design and other things in your personal private life. Dealing with business and stuff regarding how to use these tools a lot more effectively since my background is in tech.

If you're ever wondering, and if you're like, "I'm not very good at tech. Well, this is something I like to do. I like to go step by step through things and show you exactly how to use these tools.” So, if you're not very good, this might be right for you. But if you are really good and you've got this whole thing figured out, well, then maybe it's not right for you.

You're going to have your page count and trim size. This matters, especially when it comes to your ISBN, and getting it registered under the correct page count. Then you're going to have your file format, as we discussed, PDF for the paperback and hardback books for the interior, and ePUB for your ebooks' interior formatting specifications.

Uploading and reviewing cover and interior files

You have your file submission. You're going to upload both your cover and interior files to IngramSpark, and you're going to be following exactly the format that they have. Then you're going to go through the review and validation process, and finally, you can order proof copies at the lowest price possible for your books to ensure that the quality is up to par.

Some of my clients inside the group coaching will even go through and show the difference between the two. They're like, "So here's what it looks like on IngramSpark, and here's what it looks like on Amazon.”

They're flipping through pages to show you the exact quality copy that you're going to have. Make sure that when you order that proof copy, it's going to look just like you're hoping it would, and you're not going to pay a lot of money for that. We talk you through that entire process.

Proofing and Reviewing Process

Right next is the proofing and reviewing process. So, you're going to be ordering and reviewing physical proofs. 

Ordering and reviewing physical proofs

You order the proof copies, and they're going to send those to you in the mail, those printed copies. Look at them. Now, if they're terrible, you complain to IngramSpark; they will give you your money back, which is another golden tip to save you money.

You're going to have quality assurance to make sure that the quality is, in fact, up to par, and that there aren't problems like the images being off or things like that. You're going to ask for corrections and revisions, and when you do that, if the mistakes are significant, make sure you inform IngramSpark, and they will simply refund your money, which is an amazing deal that they have.

Making corrections and revisions

Now, making corrections and revisions, you're going to identify issues that come up, carefully reviewing your book for errors, including typos and formatting issues. Just make sure you're finding them when you're going through the file.

As you're going through the copy that's in your hand, you can do the file updates. You're going to just update and upload the files again. They aren't going to charge you for that but they will after a while. I think there's like a certain window of time before they won't let you because it requires an additional review.

After that period, they're going to hit you with a $50 fee. In the old days, they always hit you with a $50 fee. That's not happening anymore. That's the reason why IngramSpark is so powerful and good.

Then you just have to resubmission: uploading the revised files to their IngramSpark account and ensuring they are error-free before approving them for publication. But, of course, why would you send them in if you knew they had errors in your files? That would make no sense at all. 

Finalizing the book for distribution

Again, back to this quality assurance, just making sure that they conduct a final review; everything's in place, looking at the metadata accuracy—the author's name, and title—all needs to match your ISBN information as well; otherwise, it's going to create an issue.

Distribution and Sales Reports

Then, distribution confirmation to make sure that you've decided, "Yes, I want to get maximum distribution, as many channels in as many formats as possible." That brings it back to distribution and sales reports; that's something that you have there under IngramSpark and they've drastically improved this.

Monitoring book availability and distribution

You're going to see your sales report. You're going to see exactly how the sales are going. Amazon still has better options on sales; IngramSpark is a little bit behind, but they've drastically improved since I first went with them.

Check out this related article: Can Publisher Rocket Help Your Amazon Ads Take Off?

Sometimes, I like it when platforms are terrible because it means other authors are less likely to use them. But what am I doing now? I'm telling you my secret, which is the fact that IngramSpark is a killer place.

You're going to want your books there, so you're going to see those. Then you have your retailer updates so you can see exactly what's going on on the retail websites, whether it's going well or not.

And you have your marketing and promotion. One of my clients was asking recently, I think they had like a $125 marketing package, and I'm like, "That is cheap," because a lot of people are, like, $1,000 to market your book on social media marketing and pushing it out to platforms like Facebook. It's insane.

The thing is, some of my clients, start with the marketing side of it. That's one of the reasons why sometimes I would just recommend my free Discovery Session where we can look and see exactly where in the process you are.

Maybe you've got your books out there; they're just not selling, or maybe you don't even know how to get your books out there. You want to get them out there. So whether you're trying to get your books sold or whether you're trying to just create the books in the first place, a Discovery session can be excellent.

Where we just sit down, just like right now, we're just going to talk, you and me. I want to hear where exactly you're at, and I can tell you which options might be right for you. So that's an option to consider.

Understanding sales reporting and royalties

The first thing is sales tracking, where we can exactly see how the sales are going on your books, and it's going to show it to you under the dashboards that they have. They have the royalty calculation to show you how much money is being owed to you.

They sit on it for a while, so if somebody wants money back, they simply refund it—not from your wallet but from the account that they have. Then you have a payment schedule, so you're pretty much going to be getting paid the royalties on a regular schedule, and you can get your author's earnings through this.

Every month, I get my earnings. I think maybe it's like 90 days after the sale is made or something. I don't even pay that much attention because the money just is coming through regularly, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars just coming right through the account, which I find fantastic for the 200-plus books that I have on the market.

And that's another key issue, which is to get a lot of books on the market. Let's experiment with these keywords. Once you learn how to use tools like Jutoh, do yourself a favor and start increasing the number of books that you're putting out there. So you can make sure that you're going to be set when it comes to your books.

Exploring additional distribution opportunities

We're going to be using expanded retailers like we have. We're going to go for all of the international markets we can hit. We're going to go for specialized distribution to ensure that this distribution reaches niche bookstores, libraries, and academic institutions to reach specific target audiences to maximize it.

Marketing and Promotion

And then you have your marketing and promotion. We're going to leverage IngramSpark's marketing tools and resources. 

Leveraging IngramSpark marketing tools and resources

This includes their promotional features where they have all sorts of little tools and marketing things like countdowns or making sure that, hey, look, this is especially on sale and paying to get it in special locations or their author services.

So if you're getting a little bit lazy or don't want to do stuff yourself, you can simply use some of the services that they have or the educational content where they show you a whole list of resources, including webinars, articles, and guides on YouTube, among other things.

All sorts of stuff that you can read, including blogs, articles, and such, show you the latest and greatest changes that IngramSpark is currently making. 

Promoting your book through IngramSpark channels

We have Author Spotlight, something to get it where you can participate in this to get your book right on the first page where they're showing it on the website itself. The catalog inclusion, you can make sure you want it included in there.

As well as email campaigns to ensure the option of having you in IngramSpark's email marketing. So you just pay a fee, a nominal fee, and you can test these out. Make sure you test them though; if sales don't go up as a result, we kill the test; it was a bad test. 

Integrating IngramSpark with your overall marketing strategy

Next, we're going to be integrating IngramSpark with your overall marketing strategy, and that means targeted marketing, making sure that we're building our email list. This is something I discuss with my clients in the group coaching and my 1-on-1 program: how exactly to use email to leverage this so we can get more reviews and stuff.

You want consistent branding on your website, in your books, the covers, and all of these things. If you're using my cover designer, you simply send your previous covers and say, "Make sure it matches the exact style and feel of this." 

The data analysis to make sure that we're seeing what's happening as a result of our efforts, the money that we're spending on ads and this, and the time that we're spending on our content marketing—pulling all of this together to check that data. But we always do one thing at a time so we do not burn out. 


My question for you today is: Have you gotten started with IngramSpark? If you have, write "yes" below in the comments, and if not, write "no" below in the comments. And look, if you're trying to get started on this whole thing, grab my free checklist. It goes straight through the self-publishing secrets checklist—the secrets of self-publishing in the exact step-by-step that's worked for me, selling thousands.

I think we're at like 50,000 to 60,000 books sold. And if you're looking to get increased sales, that's probably your next starting point grabbing my free checklist. Check out my other articles and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}