Also known as: ‘things that had me tearing my hair out’ which I can now tell you – and hopefully save you from any similar frustrations.
1. ‘Self-published’ books is the term to use for those books published by individuals.
As a correction to my previous blog title, I’ve since discovered that the term ‘indie-published books’ is generally applied to books published by small, independent publishing companies.
2. If you want to do things quickly, use KDP
So much simpler to use than Ingram Spark; with really quick, helpful customer service. This process is hard enough as it is, and customer support really matters – particularly if you’re on deadline. I was, when I started doing this, and I frequently thank the gods above that I used KDP to initially publish my book. And on that note, I’ve often read that the quality of IS is so much better, but my KDP novel is weightier, with cleaner looking paper, and I actually prefer it (apart from, yes, the fact that the covers do bend up a little).
3. Typos can have consequences
When I was inputting my ISBN/book details onto the Nielsen title editor (make sure you do this, otherwise you won’t be on the UK’s book database) I put a rogue ‘s’ into my subtitle. Because of this, for a while my Amazon page had a double subtitle. When I corrected it on Nielsen it self-corrected on Amazon. Also, don’t forget that if you alter your price or cover, you need to go back and alter it on Nielsen too.
4. While we’re on with Nielsen, here’s how it works.
They’re the guys who you bought your original ISBN number from – or you should have done. (Don’t get a free one from Amazon etc, it could cause you problems down the line).
Nielsen have the UK’s book database – so if a shop looks up your ISBN they’ll be looking at the Nielsen database.
Nielsen then need to know who’s distributing your book. So, when I added Ingram Spark as a printer/distributor of my book, I then needed to tell Nielsen this on the section below (via the email link in blue):
They can only have one distributor on their system, so they changed it from KDP to Ingram Spark. (And that’s regardless of the fact that, as you’ll see below, Gardners are actually getting the book from IS and distributing it to Waterstones.)
NB:, when I was checking my facts, this is what Nielsen told me:
1. Nielsen is a data provider so we don’t fit into the supply chain, however we do feed data to retailers including Amazon, Waterstones etc.
2. Any orders placed via our service will be routed to the distributor that you have chosen, in this case Ingram Spark. Gardners is part of Ingram Sparks supply chain, which you will see on your records once the distributor has updated. Waterstones order from Gardners, and Gardners order from Ingram Spark. i.e. Gardners act as a wholesaler.
5. Your account name matters on Ingram Spark – make sure it’s your publisher name
If you put your actual name in as the account name, that’s the only option you’ll be given when inputting your imprint name under Categories:
Or that’s what happened for me. It only came up with the option of J Morency initially.
6. If you’ve uploaded a book onto Ingram Spark, while it’s showing something like this…
you won’t be able to change/update your basic information (imprint name, short description etc). Or, as was the case with me, you’ll change it, it will stick for a little bit, then revert to what was there originally. Small thing, but this almost broke me!
What it should tell you is the following – but for some reason it didn’t with me:
7. The price you put on Ingram Spark price details must match the price on your book cover.
Therefore it’s worth doing the math on IS before signing off your final cover. In my case, I wanted the book cover price to be £8.99 (which is pretty standard for paperbacks in the shops), but couldn’t have it at that price, as well as give 55% trade discount – which is what’s advised if you want bookshops to stock your book – without going into deficit. So I had to lower the trade discount to 50% – leaving me enough ‘profit’ on each book for a small banana.
8. You can override warnings on Ingram Spark
I decided to ignore the warning on IS that said this:
My designer said that the upload process doesn’t like type under a certain size being coloured. Printed, the cover looks fine.
9. Your book will print fractionally darker on Amazon KDP than it will on Ingram Spark
I’d say the difference is only marginal (the photo makes it look more contrasting than it is), but we had to lighten the new artwork for KDP initially as it came out far too dark.
10. If you want your book in Waterstones, you’re going to have to fill in another form.
I was lucky enough that my local Waterstones said they wanted to stock my book. And this is why, having originally published the book through KDP – just for Amazon – I then re-published it through Ingram Spark.
Waterstones will only accept books through the wholesale firm Gardners, so first I had to download a Waterstones Trading Application form, which I found quite confusing. There’s some advice from Gardners here, but that didn’t answer all my questions, here’s how I filled in the form:
What follows is the information I got direct from Gardners (many thanks to them):
This is the imprint name you put on Nielsen. So mine is Happyshed Press and that’s what I put here
This will be Ingram Spark. The form asks for the email, address etc but they said, ‘Just put Ingram as we have the details we need.’
Nielsen Bookdata Listed:
Do your books have a barcode?: In the intro to the Waterstone’s trading form, your heart will very probably freeze, like mine did, if you see that you need both an ISBN and a Bookland European Article Number (EAN) barcode. Don’t worry, the latter is just the barcode (stripy) bit of your ISBN black and white barcode.
Returns Contact: just put: Firm Sale (which means the books are non-returnable – I guess if they’re damaged, they’ll sort that)
Where it asks again for address, phone number etc just leave blank or say ‘You have them’
Discount terms: You need to minus 5% off whatever you put on your Ingram Spark price information, then put that. So, in my instance, it’s 45%.
Credit terms: they said: ‘you can leave this blank’
Returns agreement: put firm sale if you’ve opted for no returns on IS pricing page.
The good news is that, having submitted this form to Gardners, it meant they then put my book on their list for other retailers – although they confirmed with me that this did happen automatically. However, a bookseller told me that it’s always worth checking.
And that’s it. All as easy as re-tiling a roof on a sunny day…