If you're like most authors, you're confused about how to distribute your print book. I'll get straight to the point. I like a combination of Amazon Kindle Print (used to be CreateSpace) and IngramSpark to get your book into the online retailers. This post explains why.
Is your book ready to print?
Your book is ready to print once you've tested with early readers, had it edited, and paid for a great book cover design. Now it's time to send out Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) or, if you've already done that, to distribute the books to readers in print and ebook formats. This post is about your print distribution (and ARC) options with a combination of Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.
What is Amazon Kindle Print?
Amazon KDP is Amazon's tool for getting your print book into the Amazon store (used to be CreateSpace). Your book will be printed on-demand (POD) and sold in the Amazon store. Do not use their Expanded Distribution Program to reach any other stores. (More on that further down the page.)
Amazon KDP will print your book in black and white or color on creme or white paper but the paper quality for color isn't really good enough for heavily illustrated books. So if you want to print a lush, full-color book, I suggest printing only with IngramSpark .
THE ONLY THING AMAZON KINDLE PRINT DOES...
The only thing you should use Amazon KDP for is to get your print book into the Amazon store. Nowhere else.
Yes. They have an Expanded Distribution Program (EDP).
No. Don't use it.
You cannot set the discount to 30% for online retailers or the 53% discount that bricks-and-mortar bookstores require. Strangely, Amazon's KDP sets the discount at 40%. (I don't know why.) Plus, they don't offer the Returns program bookstores require.
Just use Amazon KDP to get your print book into the Amazon store or to print test copies of your book quickly and cheaply.
What is IngramSpark?
IngramSpark is a POD printing service and distribution company.
IngramSpark is owned by Ingram, the largest book distribution company in the world. They distribute your books to online retailers and bricks-and-mortar bookstores. IngramSpark allows you to set a 30% discount on your print book that the online retailers require. If you want to sell to bricks-and-mortar bookstores you can set the discount to 53% and join their Returns program.
IngramSpark prints hardcover books and offers the widest array of standard book sizes.
You could simplify your life by using only IngramSpark, but I recommend using Amazon KDP to sell directly to the Amazon store. Here's why.
Go Direct with Amazon Kindle Print
Why sell direct to Amazon with Amazon KDP?
Always in stock
When you go direct with Amazon Kindle Print your book will always show that it's in stock. If you distribute to Amazon using IngramSpark or another vendor your book may occasionally show an out-of-stock message on Amazon. This can happen for many reasons Amazon keeps to itself, but it most commonly occurs when your book lags in sales. This alone is a really good reason to go direct with Amazon KDP.
Easy to use
The Amazon Kindle Print interface is easier to use than IngramSpark and their customer service is very good. They also have looser tolerances and do a lot of hand-correcting to files that aren't quite right. So if you're a beginner, it's just easier to go with Amazon KDP first.
Printing ARCs and testing your design
As long as you don't fill in a Publication Date in Kindle Print, your book will remain private and you can print one to five copies for your own use. This is a very good step to take. Order advance copies and make sure your book looks great.
Again, you can print up to five copies of your book with Amazon while it's marked private. But if you need more books to send out as Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) for reviewers, you'll probably want to print ARCs at IngramSpark, which offers unlimited ARCs.
Leave the rest to IngramSpark
So publish and distribute your book using both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. You'll enjoy a direct relationship with Amazon, which is always good, and you'll get very wide distribution to online retailers and bookstores with IngramSpark.
I always suggest that authors create a hardcover version of their book, at least for launch, because friends and family will want them. IngramSpark can do that, and you can offer these to bookstores at a 53% discount with returns program while enjoying a larger percentage of royalties with the 30% discount for distribution to the online retailers for your paperback.
Make sure you own your ISBNs so you can change your mind about where to print and distribute any time you like. (See my post on why you should Own Your ISBNs.)
How to distribute both print books and ebooks
So that's an introduction to using a combination of Amazon KDP and IngramSpark to distribute your print book. But what about ebooks?
See my post Book Aggregators & Distributors: How Your Book Gets to Your Readers for complete information and a recommended path with a list of aggregators and distributors I trust with your print and ebooks.
That post will show you how your book gets into the mailbox (virtual or physical) of your readers.
I have a free self-publishing toolkit for you
Need more self-publishing advice? I've put together a free toolkit with a Consumer's Guide to Writing & Publishing Tools & Services that includes reviews of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, Smashwords, B&N Nook, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and all the other brand names you've heard of and many that you haven't!
I want to help you self-publish well, doing it right the first time and preventing false starts and mistakes that could set you back months. Let's get your book into the hands of your readers as soon as possible!
For a limited time, I'm offering a self-publishing toolkit that includes my Consumer's Guide for Self-Publishers along with a metadata cheat sheet and book launch checklist, plus a mini-email course on self-publishing.
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