Print on demand: my self-publishing experience with IngramSpark

When it came to publishing the paperback version of my debut novel, IngramSpark seemed the obvious choice: it was a big player, with credibility in the industry and a massive distribution network. It had been recommended to me by authors and academics; and its website was brimming with helpful tools and tutorials about virtually every aspect of the publishing process.

I set up my IngramSpark account months before I was ready to publish. Might as well remove little hurdles (ABN, tax file number) before the big ones become apparent…

I also needed time to acquaint myself with the various printing options. Armed with a tape measure I set off to my local bookshop to check out the format of novels over 400 pages in my genre (literary fiction). I ended up picking 6 x 9 perfect bound paperback format on cream paper (5 x 8 would have made my novel look too chunky).Web

IngramSpark charges a nominal fee to set up a new title but if you hunt around online you may be able to find a voucher waiving that setup fee.

Initially I had felt apprehensive about the fee that IngramSpark charges for each revision of your manuscript once it’s in production. My worries were unfounded: I had prepared my book’s interior file using Vellum, and the IngramSpark quality control bots gave it a green tick at first pass. Ditto for the PDF with the cover file, which had been prepared by a professional designer. I ordered proofs – they arrived faster than I expected and required no changes.

I love the IngramSpark calculators. They show the printing cost based on your print settings, or your author earnings for each jurisdiction. They let you play with the various parameters (including recommended retail price, wholesale discount, printing and delivery costs) to test your assumptions or to help you plan a marketing strategy.

At times, as a brand new author, I felt uncertain about my decision-making. Where should I peg the wholesale discount? Should I make my books returnable? And what would be a reasonable price for my novel in the EU? These decisions are left in your court, and that’s as it should be, as you are the publisher. IngramSpark takes care of printing and distribution, and they’ve gone the extra mile by giving you reams of contextual information. And if you were to get the pricing wrong, you can change it once per week.

I am pleased I used IngramSpark to publish my first novel. It’s great to see your title turn up in the catalogue of online bookstores through IngramSpark’s distribution network. The print quality is fantastic — The Best of Intentions looks better than many a trade-published book. The Print on Demand model works for me: I order a new box when my stock runs low so that I always have sufficient copies of my novel at hand.

IngramSpark can also distribute the e-book version of your work through major distributors (including Amazon Kindle and Apple Books). Despite the attractiveness of this one-stop solution I have continued with arrangements that I already had in place with Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, which offer me a better royalty rate.


Apart from being a customer I have no relationship with IngramSpark. This post does not constitute advice; and you may have a different experience with the company should you choose to use its services.