May 27, 2014

CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark Part 1

CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark

CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark

Print Book Distribution

I’ve seen a lot of comparisons between CreateSpace (CS) and Ingram (either Lightning Source or Spark). In almost every instance I walk away thinking that it wasn’t a fair comparison. And almost every discussion I’ve seen tends to be the same. The one common ground is that many people seem to have quite a bit of misinformation.

I hope I can provide a little objectiveness and help people decide which company they should choose for their print needs. Please note, this is not meant to be a comprehensive report on the self-publishing print options; this is a comparison of CS and Spark only. I didn’t even include Lightning Source because almost all new self-published authors are being steered to Spark for their print needs.

Features CreateSpace Ingram Spark
Changes No charge? $25
Cost per copy B&W 4.55 4.80
Cost per copy color 21.85 8.40
Cost of setup $0 $49**
Yearly fee $0 $12
Customer Service Excellent, instant chat online Good, but slow
Discount 40/60%* 40/55%
Distribution Amazon/Extended Worldwide
Ease of setup Very easy Learning process
Hardcover No Yes
Quality Good Excellent
Returns No Yes
Shipping Excellent US/Okay int’l Very good US/excellent int’l

Specifications used for book calculations—B&W and color: Paperback, 6×9, cream, perfect bound, gloss finish, 300 pages.

*Discounts are figured using both options with Ingram Spark. CS has only one option for expanded distribution. CS discount for Amazon is 40%, and for expanded distribution is 60%. Spark discount is your choice—40% or 55%. [Note: This can make a huge difference.]

**Spark will refund the set-up fee if you purchase 50 books within the first two months.


Calculations are for one book, to three locations, and standard shipping was figured in each case. In addition, I listed expedited and time estimated for delivery. All currency is local: US dollars, UK pounds, AU dollars.

US (#days) UK (#days) AU (#days)
CS–Standard 3.59 (13) £3.05 (40–45) 8.54 (40–50)
CS–Expedited 11.18 (5–7) £5.00 (15) 14.53 (21)
Spark–Standard 5.30 (10) £2.14 (10) 8.83 (10)
Spark–Expedited 9.23 (5–7) £5.25 (3) 11.51 (3)

As you can see from the chart, while CS is great for US shipping, it falls apart in the international arena. Their US shipping is even better than what they cite online, as I have found that deliveries usually arrive before their estimates. International is another story.

I did numerous giveaways on Goodreads, and I usually opened them to international readers. Three times I had to ship to AU. The first time I used CS and had to spend almost $30 to make sure it arrived within 2 weeks! Afterward I used Ingram and paid ⅓ the price and it still arrived in fewer than 10 days.

Ingram has worldwide distribution with printing facilities in many countries, so you can ship almost anywhere at reasonable prices, and, expect delivery in a reasonable time frame. The cost to ship to Queensland, AU, for example, (for me, from TX) is $19 and that includes the price of the book. If you intend to distribute internationally, this is a huge advantage.


Most of the authors I speak with know very little about discounts and how they work. They simply sign up with CS, and go about business. But remember, you’re not just an author; you are now in business for yourself, and you should pay attention to all the details, especially discounts. So, let’s take a little page time to review the basics.

Keep in mind that when we talk about discounts, this is the amount you are discounting the book off the retail price. This is not the amount of discount the bookstore receives. As an example, a 55% discount with Ingram means the bookstores would get a 40% discount off the retail price. So if your book retails at $15, they would buy it from Ingram at $9. Ingram keeps 15% ($2.25). You would be credited $6.75 ($15–55%) for each sale, from which you would have to deduct the cost of printing the book (4.80), which leaves you a profit of $1.95. [See tables below]

I tell you this so you don’t go telling the bookstores to expect a 55% discount. They’ll understand, but it will make you look naive. The easiest way to tell them is that you offer the “industry-standard discount,” and that the books are returnable. (If in fact they are.)

With CreateSpace the only option for expanded distribution is to offer a 60% discount. Of that, I believe the stores receive about 25%, so the breakdown looks like this. [Since I’m not positive of the split between CS and the bookstores, I am showing the portion which goes to them and to the author. Part of what CS keeps goes to the bookstores.]

On a $15 sale, CS takes $9 and you get $6. From that you need to deduct the cost of the book, which is $4.55, leaving you a profit of $1.45. From this example, you would think that the bookstores get $9, but they don’t. They don’t even get close to that. CS passes on about 45% of the discount to Ingram (who they use for distribution) and then Ingram takes their cut. The result is that the stores receive about 25% as a discount. That’s not enough to make them even consider stocking the book, but they will order it if a customer asks. Here’s how it breaks down:

CreateSpace (showing expanded distribution discount)

Retail Price for B&W Book $15.00
CS (60% discount) –9.00
Cost of book –4.55
Royalty to author 1.45

Ingram Spark (showing 40% discount)

Retail Price for B&W Book $15.00
Spark (40% discount) –6.00
Cost of book –4.80
Royalty to author 4.20

Let me show you what this looks like in terms of earnings for you based on each company’s price of a 300-page b&w book with their respective discounts at the different retailers. The table shows the CS discount to Amazon and expanded distribution. Ingram shows the options for 40%.

Based on retail price of $15 Profit if sold on Amazon Profit if sold anywhere else
CreateSpace 4.45 1.45
Ingram Spark 4.20 4.20

Spark shows only the 40% option for this chart so that we’re comparing apples to apples. If you don’t plan on active distribution into brick-and-mortar stores, you can keep your discount at Spark to 40%. That means with every book sold, no matter where it’s sold, you’ll earn $4.20. With CS you’ll only earn $4.45 on Amazon. All books sold at B&N (Barnes & Noble), or BAM (Books-A-Million), or any stores that happen to order from you, will earn you $1.45. That’s a big difference.

And if you’re thinking…but I want to get into bookstores, so I need the 55% discount…That’s fine. But then you’re not comparing apples to apples, because you’re not getting stocked in stores with CS, not without the stores getting a true industry-standard discount and the books being returnable, neither one of which CS does.

Part Two of This Post Will Be Published Next Week

We’ll be weighting all the other factors in more detail.

  • Ease of use
  • Customer service
  • Changes
  • Cost per copy details
  • ISBNs, Product selection
  • Returns
  • Time to publish
  • Quality
  • Shipping

And then we’ll wrap it up with a summary of pros and cons.

In the meantime, sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss future posts. If you sign up now, you can also download my novella, Finding Family, for free. The links for Kindle and ePub are below.

Kindle version

ePub version

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

69 Responses to “CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark Part 1”

  1. Thanks for this great info. I’m planning to publish a four book series at the end of 2014 or early 2015. This truly gives me food for thought. I Appreciate you taking the time to thoroughly present the facts.

  2. Glad you liked it. Email me if you have any questions when you get ready to publish.

  3. Hi, Giacomo. Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been disappointed by the lack of specific information comparing self-publishing options.

    One thing I don’t understand, however, has to do with the way you positioned IngramSpark and Lightning Source. My understanding is that IngramSpark is the equivalent of Kindle Direct Publishing, while Lightning Source is the equivalent of CreateSpace, the POD arm of Ingram.

  4. Hi, Mistina. Love your name, btw. Ciao. As to LS and Spark–they are sister companies, both owned by Ingram. LS does POD, but most new authors (unless you have 10-20 titles) are steered toward Spark. LS offers a few more discount options, but it is slightly more expensive for set up and it costs more if you have to make changes. Other than that, they offer the same print services. Spark, also offers ebook distribution (which you can also access through LS if you’re with them.) So to sum it up, Spark and LS are both comparable to CS in the print distribution category. Spark also offers ebook distribution. I’m going to be doing a post on that in the next month or so. KDP is essentially a retail operation, allowing authors to upload books to Amazon and sell them. I would compare KDP to Nook (B&N) and Kobo, and Apple. Ingram is a distributor; it doesn’t sell anything directly to consumers.

  5. Thanks so much for the quick clarification, Giacomo. And the compliment. 😉

  6. Dear Giacomo,
    It’s nice to come across an authentic Italian name. I spent 10 years in Rome.
    Thank you for such an insightful article. I published with Lulu but am struggling with their prices. The hard copy costs me almost $19, paperback $6. I don’t believe that my retail prices are competitive. I just came from the BEA where I got my hard copy priced by IngramSpark. It would cost me $9 versus $19. Am I making the right decision, or should I consider looking CreateSpace?
    DIY does not scare me at this time, since I’ve learned a lot throughout the publishing process with Lulu. I just hired a good designer to prepair the files correctly. Also, I don’t want to pull the plug with Lulu yet, so I would be using different ISBNs with IngramSpark. Any thoughts?
    Grazie, Julia

  7. Ciao, Giulia! I’m envious that you got to spend 10 years in Rome. As to your options, if you read part two of the article, you’ll see the process I go through. I use CS for Amazon distribution only, and Ingram for all else. I would never suggest anyone use Lulu.

    RE: hardcover, CS does not produce hardcover for distribution. Did you use your own ISBN with Lulu? Or did you use theirs? If you used your own, you have no problem using the same number with Spark, as long as it is the same format–in other words both hardcover and same size, or both paperback/same size. If it was a Lulu ISBN, then yes, you need new one. I strongly suggest buying your own ISBNs for reasons like this.

    If you decide to go with Spark, you might consider joining the Alliance for Independent Authors. There is a fee involved but there are a lot of benefits, including a big savings from Spark (I think $50). You can click the link on the sidebar to check them out. I also wrote an article for the Alliance about Lulu last month. You can read it on their site.

  8. Hi Giacomo, this post is infinitely helpful. Thank you. I have recently published my first novel, THE MEMORY BOX, on Createspace and thought by purchasing their $99. isbn (which they claim can be used with other publishers/distributors) and the expanded distribution that I’d make it easy for booksellers to purchase my book and stock their shelves. Recently I found out that I am very unattractive to independent booksellers because of the 25% discount and no returns. I feel very foolish. So I was so excited to see your post about Ingram Spark. I just went on their website to publish with them (while keeping a presence on createspace for amazon) and they are not accepting my ISBN. I haven’t called them yet, but do you have any idea why this would be? I got the ISBN from Bowker and paid $99. for it. Also, I’m a little out of my league regarding pricing the book for the Australian market. I went onto an Australian online booksellers and the prices seem so high for a paperback. Any advice here? My list price is $14.95. My last question has to do with returns. I am new to the “return and deliver” or “return and destroy” (I shudder when I see that word “destroy”) What do you recommend in the US and/or outside the US? Thanks for all your help and much continued success to you!

  9. Hi, Eva: I’m glad this helped. As to your ISBN, I believe that CS has a deal where that ISBN can be used some places, it can’t be used everywhere. If you read the fine print, it says:
    * Not eligible for distribution through the Libraries and Academic Institutions outlet.
    Since Ingram distributes to libraries, I’m guessing that might be one of the reasons why they won’t accept your ISBN. Write to them and ask why to be sure. As to pricing, make sure you have enough room for profit in your price and then go with it. Remember that returns can be costly, but usually when using a POD printer, you don’t often encounter this problem. Most bookstores will only order a few. If things really heat up for you (a good thing) you can always shift to higher print runs and reduce your cost and re-strategize on distribution. For now, I would probably recommend ‘destroy’ if the book costs you less than $3 and ship if it costs $5 or $6. I would definitely recommend destroy for anything outside of your country.

  10. Thanks, Giacomo, for your speedy reply. Now if only Ingram would do the same! I will ask them about the ISBN, if they won’t use it, that means I’ll need to buy another one from Bowker and then my one paperback will have two ISBNs or will I change it with Createspace? Will I encounter any issues with two ISBNs for the same book? Thanks for your other advice, I appreciate it! Eva

  11. Eva: If you opt out of the expanded distribution with CS, and then wait for that to take effect, you should then be able to use that ISBN with Spark. If that still doesn’t work, you’d have to purchase another ISBN. As of yesterday, Ingram Spark sells ISBNS that can be used anywhere.

  12. Hi Giacomo! This article is super helpful! I am getting close to publishing my first children’s picture book, and I have been researching the IngramSpark vs. CreateSpace options. At this point, the only commitment I have made is purchasing the $99 ISBN from CreateSpace, which, as with Eva, I thought I would be able to freely use with both IS and CS. Now I am realizing that using expanded distribution at CS would then get my ISBN rejected from IS due the library issue?

    It sounds like I might be able to remedy the rejected ISBN situation by not choosing to use Expanded Distribution through CS? I guess I could then just use CS for Standard Distribution and achieve Expanded Distribution through IS with my hardback version of the book? Do you recommend this? My only issue with IS is the margins are SO low when choosing the 55% wholesale ($.61 on a $16.95 list price), which seems like a must if I want any chance of the IS booksellers picking up my book…

    On a side note, I plan to purchase a number of hardback copies from IS to sell on my own (my website and blog). Does IS charge sales tax when you purchase this way? If so, I assume I then don’t need to collect sales tax separately to my customers, but rather, just include what I paid for sales tax into the overall price of the book?

    Thanks SO much for any advice you can offer! I really appreciate it!


  13. Emily: Yes, opt out of expanded distribution and you should be able to use the ISBN you have. It’s always better to purchase a block of your own ISBNs, but if that isn’t an option, Ingram Spark (as of this week) sells ISBNs that are for universal use for, I believe, $85.

    As to your margins. Even if you use the 55% option at Ingram, that’s better than CS’s expanded distribution, which takes 60%. However, if you don’t think you’ll be successful getting your book into a lot of bookstores, you can always choose the 40% option with Spark and save even more money. Bookstores will still order it if a customer asks for your book, but you won’t find them stocking the book without orders. (a tough thing to achieve even at 55%)

    I don’t remember, but there was probably an option regarding sales tax when you set up your title.

  14. Good info, once a again! And thanks for the speedy reply!

    I am leaning towards the 40% option at IS; if I do choose it, do you suggest I still accept returns of the book? Since it is a picture book, it is pretty costly to print ($6.32). Also, at 40%, is there a great fall-off of booksellers who will order the book?

    Also, I am assuming if IS accepts my ISBN, it would have the potential for libraries to acquire it? This is important to me because I want families to have easy access to it.

    So much to think about–trying not to get overwhelmed! I am fortunate to have hired an experienced illustrator who uses InDesign and has submitted to Lightning Source in the past, so I hope that part of the process will be smooth. 🙂

    Thanks, again!!

  15. I would do the 40%. You can always change it later if you like. I think returns are only valid with the 55% option. You will probably not get many bookstores to actually carry your book no matter what discount you use, but they will order it if they have a sale.

    Libraries should be able to acquire it. If you tell people to ask their library to order it, they usually will.

  16. Sounds good. Thanks SO much for your help!

  17. Thanks for this clear, to the point info!

    There’s only one point I’d disagree with, based on my own experience.

    I publish my 6×9 trade paperback with both CS and IngramSpark. I find the quality of the books produced by IngramSpark is poorer. I’m not sure whether their paper is thinner or it’s the ink, but in the copies I’ve ordered from IngramSpark, the print bleeds through to the other side of the paper, so it’s distracting. I’ve never seen this with the books CreateSpace prints for me, and I receive a lot of them.

    And I sure like the fact that I can make changes free with CreateSpace, whereas with IngramSpark I have to pay $25 for every change, no matter how small!

    Thanks again for an excellent analysis, and I’m heading over to read part two!

    Jodie Renner, editor & author

  18. Jodie: Interesting about your experience with the quality. I have always found Ingram to be far superior in quality, and I have never seen what you experienced. I’ve done nine books with Ingram and have never had to send any back. I have had to return 3 of the nine with CS though, two due to cover problems (colors) and one due to faded ink issues. I would write to Ingram and tell them you’re not happy. I bet they fix it.

    I definitely agree about the cost of changes. I have spoken to Ingram a few times about this myself. It’s a sticking point for indie authors, in particular.

  19. Giacomo, I’ve notice that bleeding-through issue with every book I’ve ordered from IngramSpark (printed by Lightning Source) and in fact, I compared the ones I received today with the same book I received from CreateSpace today – same problem. I’m going to email them about it, but I don’t see how they can fix it just for me – unless they use a lower-grade paper and printing process for indie authors!

  20. Jodie: I’d love to hear what you find out.

  21. Hi Giacomo – thanks for this great comparison! However, what is interesting is that I had a book printed by Lightning Source and the printing was gray, not black, and the cover was put on the book page block crooked, and then it was also cut crooked. I submitted the same book files to CreateSpace, and got a proof book that was far superior to the one from Lightning Source. I compared the CS book and the LS books. The CS book’s 50lb white paper was slightly thicker than the LS 50lb white paper. And the CS book was printed well and the trim was straight. I cancelled my account with LS, after I called them and complained about the quality, and was met with their denial of any responsibility on their part, and they charged me anyways. They blamed it on the materials I sent them. Which were the same files I sent to CS. No refund offered, and none forthcoming. So I hesitate to use LS. I’m a professional book designer with decades of experience in the print and publishing world, so I am sure the files I sent were perfect. I did create separate cover files because the spine size for the LS calculation was very slightly smaller than the spine calculation for CS for the same book. I would like to use Ingram Spark the same way that you do, but I hesitate because of this quality comparison. Maybe LS was having a bad printing day and the customer service rep was uninformed? It happens, I guess.

  22. Grace, thanks for the info. I’m surprised at your experience. Ingram typically gets much higher reviews on quality than CS. I have done 9 books using both CS and Ingram and have found the quality to be consistently better with Ingram. I can only guess that you had some crazy bad run, however that doesn’t excuse the customer service you received. I think I would have pressed that. I have always used LS, but I am trying out Spark for my new book simply so I can write from first-hand experience the differences between the two. Quality should be the same as they’ll use the same equipment.

  23. thank you Giacomo, I wonder if it has anything to do with where books are printed? LS must have printing locations all over the country? That might account for the difference in quality. Paper quality can also be expected to differ slightly from manufacturing lot to lot. So do we need to give up control over the quality, and “just do it”? and hope for the best? seems like a crap shoot! I wish I could feel better about recommending LS or CS to my clients! thanks.

  24. Grace, I would be very surprised if you experienced poor quality from Ingram in another situation. Even CS uses them for some of their printing, as do many of the other companies. They are recognized as the top of the line for POD.

  25. Hi Giacomo-
    Thank you for this great information! I think I made a classic blunder with my first attempt at self publishing last spring– I bought a $15 ISBN from createspace, which allows my imprint to appear on my book. I am guessing that this is a big problem going forward with the strategies you outline in your posts on POD and ebook distribution. Is there a way for me to buy a real ISBN from bowker and republish the book? If not what is my best fall back scenario?

    Thank you again for sharing your expertise!

  26. nancy, you can still buy an ISBN from Bowker, and you can use that with Ingram (either LS or Spark). You stand the chance that your book might show up twice at Amazon, but that wouldn’t be the end of the world. Make sure that you are NOT entered into the expanded distribution with CS before you go to Ingram.

  27. Thanks Giacomo! You are a true servant of the authoring segment of the human race!

  28. Hi Giacomo,

    I wrote the other day, but it didn’t seem to go through, so am writing again. If you did receive the other e-mail, please forgive the repeat.

    I’m a 4th grade teacher who is just finishing up a book on teaching with heart. My main audience is newer teachers, either those already on the job or just graduating from a educational programs. I will be using Facebook and LinkedIn to get the word out to friends, family and my own school parents and supporters. I also am going to target school district professional development directors, and college education depts.

    After reading your posts, I think I have a handle on what I’d like to do, but wanted to see what you thought.

    My plan is this: for friends, family and close connections, I will be posting a link to my website or to Amazon directly so those folks can either buy the hardcopy (created using CreateSpace) or the ebook.

    For school districts or college education departments (especially those in close proximity to Milwaukee), I plan on sending a copy of the book with a letter, and then direct them to my website or Amazon for purchase. (For these books I’m sending, I’ll be using Ingram Spark)

    I also plan on using IS for their distribution to brick and mortor like B& N. For local bookstores, I will also send a paperback copy with letter. Personal appearance copies will also come from IS.

    I think that should work for paperbacks, but I have more questions for the ebook version. If I use IS for the ebook version, it looks like they’ll distribute to Amazon for Kindle and also to iBooks and to B&N ebook. Should I also upload a version to Kobo and Smashwords, since IS ebook distribution doesn’t hit those versions?

    If I do things that way, will Amazon automatically put both my paperback and ebook version on one page of its site? By doing this, it looks like I won’t have to use KDP at all, since IS will be used to get ebook to Amazon. Do I have that correct?

    Thanks so much for all of your posts. I’m beginning to understand the process. The plan is to publish sometime in spring.

    With much appreciation,

    Peter Wilson
    Wauwatosa, WI

  29. My plan is this: for friends, family and close connections, I will be posting a link to my website or to Amazon directly so those folks can either buy the hardcopy (created using CreateSpace) or the ebook.

    GG: CS doesn’t do hardcopies for distribution. You’ll have to use Ingram for that. There are other choices but the easiest and least expensive on a POD basis is Ingram. Nook just set up a POD group, but their prices are high and they offer no distribution.

    For school districts or college education departments (especially those in close proximity to Milwaukee), I plan on sending a copy of the book with a letter, and then direct them to my website or Amazon for purchase. (For these books I’m sending, I’ll be using Ingram Spark)

    GG: You can ship directly to them from Ingram, using your account dashboard. And the school districts will probably not want to purchase through Amazon or your website. They will likely go through someone like Follett (a big provider to the education market) or through Ingram.

    I also plan on using IS for their distribution to brick and mortor like B& N. For local bookstores, I will also send a paperback copy with letter. Personal appearance copies will also come from IS.

    GG: B&N requires pre-approval from their corporate headquarters. It is a tedious process and you have to have your marketing plan in order and your discounts set right to have even a glimmer of hope. B&N online store will be automatic with Ingram. Brick-and-Mortar stores will also be difficult, but it’s worth pursuing in my opinion.

    I think that should work for paperbacks, but I have more questions for the ebook version. If I use IS for the ebook version, it looks like they’ll distribute to Amazon for Kindle and also to iBooks and to B&N ebook. Should I also upload a version to Kobo and Smashwords, since IS ebook distribution doesn’t hit those versions?

    GG: I would not suggest IS for ebooks. Their terms and their commissions are not as good as other distributors. I would go with either Smashwords or Draft2Digital, both of which are excellent. Smashwords offers the best distribution at this point, and great terms.

    If I do things that way, will Amazon automatically put both my paperback and ebook version on one page of its site? By doing this, it looks like I won’t have to use KDP at all, since IS will be used to get ebook to Amazon. Do I have that correct?

    GG: Again, you don’t want, IS for ebooks. You’ll be paid 40% instead of 70%, and you won’t have the flexibility to make quick changes without a charge.

    Thanks so much for all of your posts. I’m beginning to understand the process. The plan is to publish sometime in spring.

    With much appreciation,

  30. Thanks Giacomo.

    I’m working to understand everything you wrote, but I am really confused about something now. When I wrote hardcopy, I didn’t mean hard cover, but rather paperback that wasn’t an ebook. (I should have just said paperback, huh?) That’s where I thought you used CS for people to order paperback through Amazon or your website.

    For all other paperback distribution use IS.

    For ebooks, use Smashwords to get to ibooks, B&N, Kobo. But for Amazon Kindle ebook, use KDP?

    This maze of avenues to do all these things is very confusing for someone new to the self-publishing world.

    Sorry for my lack of understanding.

    Thanks again.

  31. I thought you meant hard copy as in a hardback book. the rest is correct.

    and it is confusing. it takes time to learn.

  32. Okay, thanks much! I think I’ve got it now. Man, lots of work to do to get it uploaded to all these different spots. I’ll be uploading to two places for paperback and two places for ebook. I can handle it. 🙂

  33. Hi Giacomo — IngramSpark vs CreateSpace revisited — I just did another book with softcover printed proofs from IS and CS — the CS printed book is far superior in quality to the IS book. It is a visible and handle-able difference. Maybe it’s because I’m on the east coast, and CS uses a higher quality printer? I don’t know. But there you are. CS book spine is larger, paper is thicker and more opaque (both vendors are supposedly 50lb white). And it’s cut straight. IS book is cut crooked, thinner paper, smaller spine. November 2014. Just wanted you to know my most recent experience! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  34. Grace, thanks for updating me. I would contact customer service not only to get a replacement, but to find out why this happened. It shouldn’t.

  35. I just had to say thank you. not only for the post but for the time you take to really provide some thorough answers in the comments section. I am grateful for your generosity. I sincerely prays that it comes back to you 100 fold.

    I do have three questions –
    1 — I am decided to self-publish my new book. I have not incorporated my main company yet and I want to have the publishing company fall under the main company.

    For now would you recommend that I get an EIN number for the publishing company as a sole proprietor?

    2 — One of the reasons that I decided to self-publish instead of going with a mid-tier publisher is because I eventually want a major publisher to pick up my book and I figured it would be easier to negotiate with them (with the help of a lawyer) without them having to go through the mid-tier company (Morgan James Publishing – MJP).

    I also thought from a cost perspective it would be best for me to simply self-publish to get the process started rather than having to pay MJP an additional fee to get copies of my book.

    What are your thoughts on that reasoning?

    3 — I believe that it is possible to make to make the New York Times Bestseller List or at least the Wall Street Journal or USA Today Bestseller list as a self-published author. Do you have any recommendations or resources on how to go about doing that without paying a third party company a ridiculous fee?

  36. Valerie: Thanks for stopping by. And congratulations on joining the self-publishing revolution. I see nothing wrong with your plan of setting up with an employer ID number, and if your sales reach high levels you stand a shot at getting picked up by a major publishing house, although if you are successful in reaching that level you may not want the publisher. As to making the big lists…obviously it’s possible. Several years ago people would have laughed at the thought of numerous indie authors reaching the coveted lists on NYT or USAT, but it’s happening on a regular basis now. Of course, it takes a great book, good marketing, and probably a pinch of luck, but I wish all of those things for you. And let me know if you have another question.

  37. Thank you for your quick reply. Do you have any recommendations or resource referral about how to get on the best-selling list.

    I know it’s possible. .. I’m now trying to figure out how to achieve it and so far i haven’t been able to find anything particularly useful through Google searches.

  38. I don’t know that you will find anything that is actually useful, other than the standard advice of writing a great book, and putting together a good marketing plan. There are a lot of books that claim to have the secret, but when you look at those authors, they aren’t on the list…makes you wonder.

  39. Hi Giacomo-
    Could you give some tips or references for how to intelligently shop for a book designer that can produce a flawless PDF for submission to Ingram Spark?

  40. Nancy, I have the perfect person for you. email me and I’ll send you their name.

  41. […] If you want a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of each, check out the two-part post I did on my site. […]

  42. Giacomo,

    Thank you, thank you for all you share. I read through the very pertinent questions and your thorough answers.

    I have purchased my ISBNs through Bowker and am planning to paper back print (166pg) with IS. My book strategist advised me to ALSO get ASIN with CS so that I’ll receive more advantage and profit with Amazon.

    Q1: I’ve seen book prices fall with authors who haven’t used CS. Have you seen this? It looks like authors lose their control over the price of the book on Amazon.

    I have created a publishing company (Pioneer Press) that I want the book to be published through. Q2: Is it true that if I use CS (so that I can have an advantage on Amazon) that CS will replace my publisher with them?

    Will having just the ISBN through IS be sufficient for website and Amazon sales? (I don’t see big distribution through B&M book stores, but I want the option). (I will have international sales and see IS is best for that). (I also plan to stock my own books and distribution via mail, at speaking events, and via my own website.

    I too, eventually, hope to be picked up by a large publishing company for my book.

    Thank you.

  43. Hi, Kay. Congratulations on getting your ISBNs. You can use the same ISBN for Ingram as you use for CreateSpace, and it is my suggestion that you should go with both of them to get the most advantage. Here is what you do. When you sign up for CreateSpace, remember DO NOT opt into the EXPANDED distribution. Just use CreateSpace for Amazon and Amazon Europe. Use Ingram for everything else. They have worldwide reach in their distribution network. And to clarify a point: the ASIN is a number that Amazon assigns for their own internal use. You still need an ISBN for print books. Let me know if you have other questions.

  44. Outstanding! I so appreciate your suggestion to go with both and how to do so! I feel so much better now! Thank you. – Kay

  45. Hi, This is an update on my experience working with Ingram Spark to print my book. I uploaded the interior and cover and it was received. The soft proof didn’t look right so I rejected it and emailed them after rejecting it. I asked for someone to call me. I emailed on 1/7 and 1/8 and finally called them on either 1/8 or 1/9. I ordered a hard copy proof and received it on 1/14. The text on the spine is too high. Oddly enough a second hard copy proof came in the mail on 1/20 (which I did not request nor had spoke of the spine text being off). Now the front cover is off center. The text is all rolling upward. I called to speak with someone about both issues on 1/20. I was guided to complete an order claim. On 1/20 I completed the order claim and submitted it with photo’s illustrating the problems. I was told the spine text position is within tolerance of their spec. Okay, I’ll live with that. After 48 hours I haven’t heard back from anyone (and the instruction said I’d be notified within 24 hours) so I called again, today. After sitting on hold (each time for about 5 minutes) I was told my claim went to another department and they’re backed up. I explained that I have confidence this will all get worked out, that I’m ready to print, but don’t know if I’ll be receiving another hard copy proof or what? Should I print with another company? It’s sad to be at this for over 2 weeks when the book interior and the cover were final. Or is this a normal amount of time to work with any printer? Thanks for listening.

  46. Kay: Your experience is far from normal. I have published 10 books with them and have never had an issue. If I were you, I’d get on the phone and tell them the troubles you’ve had and demand to speak with someone who can get it all resolved. Let me know how it works out.

  47. I’m so glad to know this is out of the norm. Thank you. That was my gut feel but I just had to put this out there to you. I so thank you for your suggestion to ‘demand to speak with someone who can get it all resolved.” I will let you know.

  48. CreateSpace didn’t work out for me. The book came out great but when it came time to pay out my royalties, a big fat ZERO. The payouts met the minimum threshold, too. They just gave a bunch of lame excuses that never panned out. At the end, simply stalling tactics. There are also many complaints about CreateSpace underreporting sales. CreateSpace is a Amazon company, but it’s a shady operation. I would stay away from them.

  49. So with the 55% on ingramspark, they actively stock bookstores with my book?

    Otherwise, I don’t see the difference between that and 60% expanded distribution on CS.

  50. So I don’t understand. If I choose the %55 discount trade, the brick and mortar stores will actually stock my book?

    If not, then I don’t see the difference with expanded distribution.

  51. […] you wanted to, I’m sure you could do the same thing I recommended in this post comparing CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and that is, to use both of them as distributors for print. […]

  52. […] as though Ingram was the better choice for print.  I e-mailed back and forth with one man who had blogged about this and his recommendations was to do e-books through Createspace and the print books with […]

  53. I’ve learned a lot form your discussions, especially the idea of using both CS and IS in a coordinated manner. One question, will IS accept a cover made with the CS Cover Creator?

  54. Thank you for the detailed, concise, practical information.
    Thank you for taking time to figure out so many details so I don’t have to.

    I keep coming back to this article, as it answers so many of my questions.

    Keep up the good work !


  55. Giacomo,
    I might be missing something here.

    I’ve signed up with both ingram and CS.

    How do I get non-US clients to order the Ingram version of the paperback book DIRECTLY from amazon/ingram so they could pay cheaper postage rates and receive the book faster?


  56. Thank you Giacomo for your generous and timely responses. I hope you have time for me. I plan on getting an isbn package from Bowker and using it with both CS and IS.
    A few questions:
    1) What about BOOKBABY? Or is Ingram just a better choice because of their access to brick/mortar bookstores?
    2) About design considerations (exterior and interior), are those services given by CS and IS, or do I have to hire them out elsewhere. Any suggestions?
    3) My novel largely takes place in Guatemala, and I want to bring 50 copies down with me in late January to sell at readings I’ve already set up. Should I just go with CS for now, and deal with IS once I’ve returned?

    Thanks for whatever advice you can provide,

  57. Ciao Giacomo

    Thanks for taking the time to compare these two companies. With CS because I live in Australia I have to reach a US$100 sales threshold in all markets (except for AUS) before CS will send a cheque, not even EFT. What is the situation with Ingram?

  58. […] between IngramSpark and CreateSpace was done by Giacomo Giammatteo on two websites, his own in Part One and Part Two and on that of the Alliance of Independent Authors. While the base material in the two […]

  59. […] a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of each service, check out the two-part post on his site and the original post on […]

  60. Hi
    I’d like to start using both CS & IS for my book, but am still not quite sure of the how to. Can anyone help me out? I’m new to this whole process.

  61. Amy: feel free to email me at and I’ll see if I can help.


  62. Hi!

    Can someone please explain to me what is exactly the Set up Fee in Ingram? We only pay it once? And when?


  63. Helena: the set-up fee is $49 for one book. It is paid after the set-up process. From time to time, Ingram runs promotions to give discounts. Right now you can set it up for free by using a code from Alliance of Independent Authors, but the code only works until tomorrow. If you need to wait, contact me and I’ll give you a code to use, although one that isn’t as good as the one Alliance of Independent Authors has.

  64. Hi.

    I Know we are talking about Ingram and CS, But I have a question about outskirts press.

    I was recently told I should publish through Ingram and CS myself. That out skirts press is just the midlle man.
    After reviewing you post abut the discounts and the profits. I find myself a little uneasy about my decision of paying $1500 with out skirts press. My profits, from wat was told to me will never be more than $1.99 Per the math from my consultant. Also knowing that cost for wholesale distibution from what I was told, it would cost me a little over a $1000 for a purchase of 100 copies of my book. I’m publishing both hard cover and soft cover. No E book as of yet however out skirts press told me they offer a PDF verision that consumers can buy.

    I also have Authors support creating my cover spine and back of my book that totals out to $450.00. (I love their work)

    I cant help but to think I’m paying extra for a lot of things I dont need based upon the packaging services outkirts have.
    I thought going in that going through outskirts press would be beneficial for me and alleviate the drama of distribution.

    I feel like I may be spending to much money and getting the short end of the stick.

    please Advise.

    Thanks in advance!

  65. I did a post on Outskirts Press ( on my publishing site. It is not a company I’d recommend. CreateSpace is free and reasonably good, with few catches. IngramSpark costs a little money to set up titles ($50), but you can get half off that with a discount code in my book Print on Demand—Who to Use to Print Your Books. That book will also give you the ins and outs of using both.

  66. I’m thinking of indie publishing. Your comments were extremely helpful. My only fear is Ingram might be more difficult to use than CS. I like your suggestion to get my own ISBN. Thank you for these helpful comments.

  67. It’s not that difficult. I’d suggest you go for it. Read my book, Print on Demand—Who to Use to Print Your Books, and if you have any questions, ask me. Besides, there is a discount code in the book to give you half off the set-up fees.

  68. I have three books ready to go and working on assembling the fourth. The first one is in the Editing process, while the following three are currently in the “Re-Write” stage, but will follow in a timely fashion. I found your comparison between Createspace and Ingramspark timely and informative. Thank you so much for the insight. This will certainly be helpful.

  69. You’re more than welcome, John. If you are looking for deeper comparisons, try my book “Print on Demand—Who to Use to Print Your Book”. It will also give you a discount for half off IngramSpark’s set-up fees.

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