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Silver Spring, MD
United States


Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

Who Should Publish My Book? (Part 1) Ingram Spark

Biff Barnes

Your book is almost ready to publish. You have lots of questions. Print? eBook? Both? How can I make sure that I get the widest possible distribution and easiest order fulfillment services? What publisher is best for my needs?

In the next few posts we will look at some of the options you might consider. If your book is intended for a limited distribution to family and friends like many family histories or memoirs you’ll want what is often called private printing. (We’ll explore private printing in an upcoming post.) If you have commercial aspirations for your book you have many more issues to consider. We’ll begin by looking at some of the most popular options you may want to explore. Today we’ll explore Ingram Spark.

Ingram is the world’s largest book distributor. It’s catalog is used by bookstores and libraries to order books. Its subsidiary which prints books for major traditional publishing houses is called Lightning Source International. Ingram has recently made the services provided to large publishers by Lightning Source available to independent and self-publishing authors through a new subsidiary, Ingram Spark.

Spark publishes both print and ebooks. If you want an ebook suitable for all platforms – Kindle, iPad, Nook, etc. – you need to submit only one EPUB file to Spark. The EPUB file is used for all platforms except Kindle which requires its own proprietary .mobi file format. Spark will convert your EPUB file to a .mobi document to publish on Kindle. One of Spark’s advantages is worldwide distribution channels. Spark promises to “…distribute your titles to every major e-book retailer in the world: Amazon Kindle*, Apple iBooks, and Kobo as well as 70 emerging e-book retailers.”

Spark offers authors print-on-demand (POD) publishing if they want to create a physical book. This is an option to consider even if you are planning on an ebook version only. It is attractive because POD means no upfront printing costs for the author. Your book isn’t printed until someone clicks the buy button. The cost of printing is deducted from the book’s retail price each time a book is sold. You receive a royalty on the sale calculated after the cost of printing is deducted. You can find out more about royalties on Spark’s Royalty Calculator.

One important advantage of Spark over other POD printers is distribution. A book published by Spark is listed in Books In Print and the Ingram Catalog from which both libraries and bookstores order. If these are a part of your marketing plan, that’s a huge advantage. Spark’s reach is global. The company, “…partner[s] with independent bookstores, online stores, the big chains, the little chains, e-book retailers, local niche retailers, libraries, schools, universities, and just about anyone, anywhere in the world who sells (or is even thinking about selling) a book in any format.”

Having both a print and ebook version of your book makes it available to a wider audience. Not everyone has abandoned the print format. It’s always best to offer readers the opportunity to read your book in their preferred format. If you plan to make appearances of any kind – libraries, bookstores, author events, book festivals, etc – having print books to sell is a big advantage. People are less likely to go home, remember your book, and download it later than they are to buy directly from you at the event.

The cost of publishing with Spark is very reasonable. You pay a Set-up Fee of $25 for ebooks only or $49 for both print and ebook. There is a $12 Market Access Fee for each title (separate for print and ebook) for listing in the Ingram Catalog and online.

When you publish with Spark you must supply your own ISBN. Each version of the title (ebook and print) must have its own ISBN. The price is $125 for a single ISBN and $275 for 10. I know that you plan to publish additional titles so it would be to your advantage to purchase a block of 10 ISBNs. They are available on the Bowker (official US agency for ISBNs).

If you have published with Spark, please share your experiences in a comment.