The Girl from Oto‘s Ingram Spark edition hits the streets
Will these milestones ever quit? I don’t know, I think they’re starting to snowball. After months of waffling followed by months of bewildered stumbling in the dark, I finally have an Ingram Spark version of The Girl from Oto. Yes, it was a long and frustrating process, and no, I don’t think it will make me a lot of money. But here’s what it can do: get my book into libraries and bookstores all over the world.
Why, you might ask, haven’t I been able to get my paperback into bookstores and libraries to date? I have a beautiful paperback version published by Artelan Press (me) and printed on demand by Createspace (Amazon). Print-on-demand means when someone orders my paperback on Amazon, a copy is printed and shipped to them. This means, unlike in the old days of pre-2010, I don’t have to order thousands of copies of my books and hope that people will buy them.
Createspace vs. IngramSpark
The fact that Createspace is owned by Amazon is a problem for many independent bookstores from a purely moral standpoint, since Amazon has put a lot of them out of business. It’s also a problem for bookstores and libraries because Createspace-printed books are not “returnable”. Bookstores were built around an industry that allows them to return unsold books to the distributor. They can’t return unsold Createspace-printed copies, therefore they won’t carry them.
How to get around this? Print your book with the distributor that all bookstores globally have been working with forever: IngramSpark. The same goes for libraries. Once it’s in Ingram’s database, they can order it and put it on the shelf. But even if setting up an IngramSpark version of a book means that theoretically a bookstore will sell your book or a library can stock it, you are still responsible for convincing them to order it.
Another issue is cost. For a bookstore to take its usual cut of the profit on a book, it needs to charge more than I charge for my Createspace-printed version. My book costs $18.99 on Createspace. I get about $4 of that. For me to get the same royalty from a bookstore-sold copy, the store would have to charge about $25 for my book. Not many people other than my mother and my best friend would pay that much for a paperback. So the better strategy is for me to order a few hundred copies of the book from IngramSpark and distribute it myself to local bookstores.
Setting up an IngramSpark version
IngramSpark is a clunkier system than Createspace. The process is not as simple and intuitive and fast, and it’s not free. I had to pay my cover designer to make a tiny modification to the cover dimensions in order to fit IngramSpark’s parameters, for example. It took me weeks to figure out how to execute all the steps. My Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) membership really paid off during the process. I got some great discounts through them and relied heavily on ALLi articles like this one and this one that clearly explain all the differences between the two systems and contain lots of explanatory details for setting up an IngramSpark version. Plus I got to talk to the very kind and helpful Alli “watchdog” Giacomo Giammatteo, who is an expert on the IngramSpark system and had excellent words of advice for me.
Was this whole process a pain in the butt? Uh huh. Am I going to make a lot of sales and dominate the New York Times bestseller list now? No. Can people all over the world order my paperback? YES. Global distribution is better for IngramSpark than Createspace. All I have to do at this point is climb Mt. Everest with a megaphone and shout it out: “Everyone on the planet—you can now buy my paperback!” I think it’s a solid marketing strategy.
Let the juggernaut begin
Seriously, I do have a marketing strategy and it’s all about networking. My friends and family (and anyone else who likes the book) just need to ask for The Girl from Oto in bookstores and libraries. Yep, that was a hint. By having other people “prime the pump” I will have a bit more credibility than the average self-published author walking in to cold-sell their book, and stores will be more likely to carry The Girl from Oto or order it for someone who asks.
So here goes…I’m about to order a hundred copies of my IngramSpark version. With my ALLi discount, of course.