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IngramSpark review.

Why I’ll Never Use IngramSpark Again

This is a guest post by Alexa Whitewolf.

Disclaimer: this is not to discourage anyone from using IngramSpark. It’s only a reflection of my own experience with them and why I decided not to publish my paperbacks with them.

A bit of background

IngramSpark is a company similar to CreateSpace, only not owned by Amazon. They, like Lulu and others, help you bring your ebook/paperback self-published book to life.

The kicker?

There’s a fee.

Their pricing is pretty decent.

$25 for an ebook, $49+ for a print book, or $49+ combined package for both ebook and print.

As you can see from the table below, they advertise their combined package as the best deal, which is true.

IngramSpark pricing

Why the change?

Now, why would you pay for IngramSpark when you can get CreateSpace for free, you might ask?

Many of you will have heard the rumours that CreatesÍpace is shutting down, to be replaced by KDP Print. David Gaughran has a really good post on it, and details how to switch to KDP Print, if you’re interested.

I’m not a fan of KDP Print—or Amazon, for that matter—so I wanted to go with IngramSpark.

For the month of July, they had a promotion that you could add one of your books for free without having to pay the fee.

I chose to pull my First to Fall paranormal romance and try it out, thinking it was a good a time as any to try out their interface.

And boy…am I happy I did…

The experience

I restate my disclaimer here that I am in no way discouraging anyone from trying out IngramSpark. I know authors who’ve had good experiences with them, and others where it didn’t work. Mine was one such experience.

I tried over the course of three days to set up First to Fall using IngramSpark, and was at the point of banging my head against a wall when I finally threw in the towel.

Let me put it this way: if I had paid $49 for the print option, I’d have been asking for a refund.

The good

  • The original setup of the account was super easy, no problems with it. Done in less than 10 minutes, and for me, that was superb!
  • I live in Canada, so the tax setup part was just as easy
  • Adding a title? Also, easy. A couple clicks, and you’re there.

The not so good

There are five steps when setting up your book with IngramSpark, and there are a MILLION things to decide on—or so it feels. Without much info on what’s what. Sure IngramSpark has a resource page with videos on each step. Awesome. And I could watch them. But I never did for CreateSpace and I was able to set up my print book perfectly fine. Call me crazy, but I was looking for a similarly seamless experience.

The really annoying

Remember the part in CreateSpace where you set up your price, and it automatically calculates the best prices for GBP and Euro? Yeah, forget that with IngramSpark.

I was asked to price my roughly-300-page book at $28 USD and there was no conversion. So I had to go online and figure out what the approximate price was for Euro, GBP, Australian dollar and Canadian dollar. Unlike CreateSpace that populates everything easily and gives you the royalty calculations. This is where I gave up by the end of day one.

On day two, I went back to it, finished the conversions, still with not much of an idea on what royalty I’d be getting—that’s harder to figure out.

Got to the end, all the while wondering where the hell I’m supposed to put my PDF so I can finally see the conversion. I mean, if you’ll recall, in CreateSpace, you set up your book first then talk about pricing and channels to sell it through, right?

Instead of asking me for that, what I got was a message from IngramSpark basically saying ‘Oh, wait. Before you can add the files, you need to finish setting up your account.’

Why I wasn’t asked this when I first set-up my account? It still baffles me!

This is followed by a simple checklist of 3 sections—easy enough, at first glance.

Two of those things had an X for me, so I went into one section, added my info (about where I want to get paid royalties), and save.

Then I realised there was no way to go ‘back’ to the list, so I had to go from the beginning, flipping through all the steps of setting up my book, and get to the same error message.

This time, I clicked on step three which, surprise surprise, asked for a credit card. Even though this was supposed to be a free setup, because of their promo. I added the info regardless…

Got my three checkmarks.

IngramSpark's setup process requires a lot of steps.

At this point, I was still waiting for the magic message to say, ‘Ok, you can upload your PDF files now and finish setting up your book.’

Nope…

Nada.

So, being a bit of an IT person, I log out, thinking maybe the whole interface needs time to sync and realise I was done uploading everything.

So I log back in…

Again, the three sections have a green check mark. Yet I’m still not able to add files to my title…

By this point, I was seriously missing CreateSpace, and longing for the easiness of the setup with them!

I gave up at the end of day two, thinking I’d give them till day three to update the system, hopefully let me continue.

Day three I logged in, and sure enough the system was letting me add my PDF. I did. Went through the last steps. Then at the end, it wanted to take my money. So I went to the section asking for a promo code and added the same promo code I’d got in a newsletter. The EXACT same one displayed at the top of their home page. Got this:

IngramSpark invalid promo code.

By that point, my patience was shot. I was not about to pay $49 for a crap interface that had given me headache after headache, with still no clue on what the product I would get was.

To top it off, $28 USD for a paperback?

I wouldn’t pay that even if it was a James Patterson or J.K.Rowling book! And I love those authors.

Who in hell would pay that for an indie author’s paperback? Not many readers, that’s who. And the royalties I was to make from it were paltry.

That was the point I called it quits.

Went back in two weeks later to see IngramSpark had reviewed my PDF and needed me to change things. I deleted the title from the account I had created and crossed them off my list of potential replacements for CreateSpace.

Conclusion

This is one author’s story, so please don’t let this stop you from trying them out. You may find that you have the best experience ever! Sadly, it was not meant to be for me.

Would I recommend them to anyone? Nope, not based on this experience.

Would I try them again? Hell, no! Trying them again means paying the $49, so, nope.


Alexa Whitewolf is a dog-loving, caffeine-addicted, all-around traveling enthusiast. Author of three series of fantasy, paranormal and young adult, she spends her nights dreaming up new stories and her days fighting reality. She lives in Ottawa, Canada, with her husband and two mischievous furballs—Zeus and Achilles. Check out her website at www.alexawhitewolf.com.

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