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Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED


I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work.  I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?


  • CreateSpace does a terrific job with Amazon.
  • CreateSpace charges less for printing and set up fees than IngramSpark.
  • CreateSpace does offer “extended distribution” for bookstores and libraries (sort of . . . more later).
  • IngramSpark charges set up fees and a lot more for proofs than CreateSpace does.


  • CreateSpace’s “extended distribution” is only fully available to those books using a CreateSpace ISBN. (You should always buy your own ISBNs and have a direct relationship with your book’s brand and ISBNs.)
  • Even if your book has extended distribution and can be bought by bookstores, it most likely won’t be. Bookstores do not relish the idea of giving their biggest competitor money.
  • Books in extended distribution ARE listed at Ingram Wholesalers, but NON-RETURNABLE and at a lesser discount so bookstores and libraries do not get the good terms that they would if they could buy from YOU at IngramSpark.
  • In addition, the extended distribution offered by CreateSpace is actually IngramSpark! CreateSpace uses IngramSpark for the distribution. It does not, however, offer competitive discounts to the bookstores, further narrowing your chances of being stocked.
  • You will be instantly relegated to the pile of “self-published” books before the buyer has a chance to review the quality.
  • IngramSpark allows your book the chance to be ordered in many countries and formats that CreateSpace does not.


  • Use CreateSpace for Amazon. It does a great job and takes less money for each sale.
  • Use IngramSpark in addition so that your book can be ordered by the bookstores and libraries from the large wholesalers with which they prefer doing business.
  • Use your own (Bowker-provided) ISBN so that you have the benefits of your publishing company’s brand on all databases.
  • Don’t cheap out. IngramSpark and CreateSpace are two different tools for two different markets. If you don’t want to be in the retail store and library market, then you don’t need IngramSpark. But if stores and libraries are your goal, then spend the money to provide the books to them in the manner that gives them the best chance of saying “yes.”


If you really cannot stand the thought of using more than one POD provider, go with IngramSpark. It will allow you access to more venues even if it makes you less money per unit.

IngramSpark and CreateSpace take all comers.


How To Do Your Own eBook Distribution – UPDATED


Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Sony, Blio…. UPDATED FOR MARCH 2014

Here are some questions that keep authors up nights:

1. What is the best way to get my ebook up on all the major platforms?
2. How do I get set up?
3. What files do I use?
4. Do I use Smashwords? BookBaby?
5. Do I need to pay someone a cut or a fee to do my ebook distribution?


Here are the answers:

1. The best way to get your ebook out up on all major platforms is to spend an hour setting up accounts with Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Googlebooks and iTunes. The rest can wait. Seriously. Kindle alone is over 90% of ebook sales; so with Nook, Kobo, Googlebooks and iTunes included? You are ALL SET.


2. How do I get set up? EASY! Here are the links you need to set up your own accounts:




iBOOKS   (make sure you have a MAC for this one… they do not let PC’s upload files)



3. The files you will need are .epub and .prc. Most ebook platforms use .epub, but Kindle needs a .prc (or .mobi) file to look really good.

If you don’t know anyone who can turn your word document or pdf into a .epub or .prc file, email me at and I will get you hooked up. DO NOT pay more than $1 a page for this service. Too many authors are paying WAY too much!


4. You CAN use Bookbaby and Smashwords to do your book. They are both great companies, but they take a cut of your sales and very often the look of your ebook is not as professional or as top line as it should be. If you don’t mind giving up a percentage of your sales, they are a good option.


5. For about an hour of your time as an investment, however, you can EASILY set up your own accounts.
(At this point, I want to remind you all of something we here at New Shelves OFFER EBOOK DISTRIBUTION. We do it every day. I am telling you, you DO NOT NEED US to do your eBook distribution…. You can do it yourselves and save yourself the 50 cents a unit we charge or the hefty percentage that our competition charges. You can do it.)


6. As for the AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH portion of the process? Here is a eBook account set up worksheet that will allow you to pull all of the information you need into one place before you start and that way you can move easily through the set up process on each platform.


Call me if you need any help.



Do You Have a Book Distributor? Are You Sure?


I had so much fun talking with the authors and indy publishers at AuthorU earlier this month.  Here is a snippet that explains in detail the difference between Wholesalers, Distributors and Fulfillment Houses.

Too often I get calls from authors/small press owners who tell me that they “have a distributor”… then they mention Ingram or Baker & Taylor.  CLOSE!  But no…. check out this 2 minute video to see why:

Book Distribution vs. Book Wholesalers





Who Are Your Writing For? Where Are They? What Do They Buy? Why Will They Buy Your Book?


Shannon Parish(Check her out at SHANNON PARISH.COM)

Shannon did SUCH a nice job picturing the questions authors need to ask while they are writing. WHO they are writing for … WHO will buy their book … WHO/HOW they will market to it?

Here is the first one!  Enjoy!   I will be posting more soon!



Math Lessons For Small Presses – Part 3



Bookstores buy books from wholesalers and distributors. The major difference is that a wholesaler is publisher’s customer (wholesalers buy books from a publisher) and a distributor is a publisher’s employee (distributors sell their services to a publisher).

A distributor handles all of the après-production elements of getting a book onto a store’s shelves. Publishers agree to funnel all of their sales, warehousing, shipping, and billing through the distributor. They do this work for a percentage of the billing generated by the sale of the publisher’s books.

Like publishers, distributors sell a book to a wholesaler or bookstore at a discount of the retail price. That discount is usually between 45 and 55 percent.

So, if bookstores get about the same terms and about the same schedule, why do they go to a distributor instead of directly to the publisher? Some bookstores (especially bookstore chains) are not interested in setting up new, small, or regional publishers in their ordering and accounting systems for just a few books. They rightly weigh the benefits of a publisher’s book against the time and trouble necessary to order it, and if the balance does not come out in the book’s favor, they skip it. How do new and small publishers avoid this terrible fate? They sign exclusive agreements with a distributor.

A distributor’s cut varies from 25 to 35 percent of the net billing of each book. Just about every distributor has additional monthly fees, and most require an initial deposit for new clients.

Before you balk, keep in mind that it is very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to handle your own warehousing, purchase shipping materials, and learn how to ship exactly how each store wishes their shipments to arrive … and everyone is different. (It’s a little joke they like to play on publishers. I am convinced that bookstore owners get together every two years to devise slightly altered yet completely incomprehensible trafficking instructions.) Then comes the billing, monthly statements, handling claims for books damaged in transit, taking in returns, and reconciling the amount due with what the bookstore believes is due.

After that, consider the money and time it takes to tell the country’s thousands of buyers about your books. The sales reps working for distributors have long-standing relationships with the book buyers in your hometown, across the country, and in the major chains. You would not be able to start a fledgling relationship on your own with these buyers. What an experienced sales rep can often do with a phone call, you could rarely accomplish with six months and a great deal of research, e-mails, flyers, catalogs, paperwork, and free samples.


Back to the math!

A book priced at retail is $16.95

A distributor sells it to a wholesaler for $7.63 (55% discount)

The distributor will charge the publisher on average $2.15 to handle that order.

Shipping and other fees will cost about $1.30 cents a book (give or take)

The publisher gets $4.18 for the book from the distributor 6 months later when the payment comes in.

After the productions costs of $3.25 are taken into consideration, the end profit is about .93 cents a book.

(AND the distributor does most of the work)


So there you have it.  Math by an English Major for Publishers. Let me know if you have any questions!


Math Lessons for Small Presses – Part 2


Lesson #2

WHOLESALERS and how they sell books:

Book wholesalers are companies that buy books from publishers at a deep discount and hold them in their warehouses so that Internet and “brick and mortar” stores can order the books from them. Bookstores like to use wholesalers for a number of reasons: namely speed, convenience, and less financial exposure.

Book Distribution is not easy!

When a bookstore orders a book from a wholesaler, they will usually get their order in twenty-four hours. Next-day service is the standard from the top wholesalers. The discount a store can usually expect to receive off the retail price of the book from a wholesaler is 40 to 45 percent. What the bookstore loses in profit margin, they often make up in convenience and risk reduction. A book ordered from a wholesaler can be combined and shipped with hundreds of other books.

Some stores hire wholesalers to stock, manage, and handle all aspects of their book departments. There are large “big-box” chains that happily hand their title selection and discount negotiations over to a wholesaler that will manage the entire department for them. The same can sometimes be true for libraries. There are many U.S. library systems dependent upon wholesalers for all their new books. People at the chain or library office work with the wholesalers and oversee the choices, but how closely that is managed depends upon each individual situation.

The difference between a wholesaler and a distributor is this: A distributor works FOR the publisher.  A publisher hires them to handle the warehousing, shipping, order processing and sales of their book.  A wholesaler does not work for a publisher, they are the publisher’s customer.  They buy books from the publisher and resell to THEIR customers.

Most wholesalers have the word “distributor” in their name. This is to identify them as companies that distribute books to bookstores and libraries, but they are not the same sort of distributor that you need when B&N sends you a letter telling you to “get a distributor”.

If you want your book to have a chance at a bookstore chain like Barnes & Noble or BooksAMillion, and if you don’t want to hire a distributor, a wholesaler is your next best bet.

The two biggest book wholesalers for the book industry right now are Ingram and Baker & Taylor. You can find their application processes on their websites. Send your books in with the proper paperwork and try to get your titles into at least one of these wholesaler’s warehouses.  Ingram and B&T do not usually take small presses, but B&T will sign up a small publisher if they have enough marketing and sales plans to support the book.

Ingram has recently partnered with IBPA and through them, a small press CAN get listed in Ingram’s system.  However, only a very small fraction of those books get ordered and stock at Ingram.  Only the books with strong demand get stocked, the rest are just listed and Ingram will order a book from the publisher when a store backorders one.  (and the kicker?  Most bookstores will not back order.)

Remember, if you get an order, you will be selling your books to the wholesaler at a discount of at least 55 percent. They will usually order only as many as they need to fulfill the demand coming in from their customers … stores and libraries. If they are overstocked or books come back from the stores, they will return those books to you for a full refund. (Having fun yet?)

So, back to the math:

A book priced at retail is $16.95

A publisher sells it to a wholesaler for $7.63 (55% discount)

The wholesaler has paid $7.63 for the book.

They then turn around and sell it to the bookstore for $9.83 (40% discount off of the retail)

The wholesaler pays for the overnight shipping and packing materials.  The profit for the wholesaler is $2.20

Many of my clients want to know why they have to give so much of the profit to distributors and wholesalers. The short answer is: they don’t.  It is possible to convince your local stores to stock your book on consignment or to sell them directly on Amazon yourself.  However, the shipping costs, time spent and number of venues that will not take your book often turn out to cost publishers FAR more than a wholesaler’s cut….


Go buy Kiana Davenport’s Kindle Book Now


I have read the stories of Penguin cancelling Kiana Davenport’s upcoming book because she published a Kindle edition of some of her older stories. Stories that had already been REJECTED by Penguin.

It seems to me that Penguin is foolishly trying to intimidate all of their authors by making such a loud, scary fuss over Davenport’s decision. It looks like they are trying to scare the rest of their authors from ever trying to do the same thing.  I wager that they will soon see a huge backlash that will make them sorry they ever tried that.

First – GO BUY Kiana’s book!

Second – Published authors? Go publish all of your unpublished and out of print work yourself as eBooks. Run, do not walk. Make sure that PENGUIN is the one that gets the message…. publishing is not the lofty realm of the privledged NY houses and has not been for a long time. You have the right to publish what you have created.

Time to scare the hell out of Penguin….


Social Media and Online Book Marketing


We had a wonderful time today talking to Sherrie Wilkolaski about Social Media and Marketing your Book Online.

Here is a recording of her great advice for authors:



What Sort of Publishing is Right for You?


Below is the recording of last week’s great session about the different faces of Self-Publishing.

We also mentioned some websites everyone should check out before choosing a self-publishing option. These are forums and/or blogs where folks ask questions and provide information about their various experiences with some of the different vanity presses, co-publishing companies, publishers and literary agents.

Here’s a list of some links we really like:

Preditors & Editors – Whispers And Warnings
Activity Stream – Absolute Write Water Cooler


Vocabulary Friday

We’ve had several questions from friends, clients, and colleagues about what all this publishing “lingo” actually means.
So, in honor of a beautiful spring Friday morning, we thought we’d put together a list of terms that are frequently used and sometimes misunderstood.
Digital Printing – A form of printing technology that uses smaller machines and makes short runs more cost effective. Typically more expensive per unit, anyone can hire a short run printer.  Digital printing gives self-publishers more options. (This is a great option for small print runs and the quality is top-notch!)

Offset Printing
– Traditional way of printing using big presses for big print runs. Offset printing makes sense for non-traditional trim sizes or any printer run of over 1,000 units. The cost per unit is a lot cheaper but the upfront investment is much higher. (Inventory must be managedmake sure you have a warehouse!)

Print on Demand (POD) – POD uses digital  print technology to print just in time inventory (JIT). All publishers have some form of POD program. POD is only to manage inventory. (If small press or self-published author decides to POD, it should be an inventory decision not a financial decision!)

Vanity Presses – Vanity Presses are companies that specialize in self-publishing programs. In recent years they have co-opted the term POD term to give themselves more credibility. Most Vanity Presses will provide your ISBN and have the capability to take your book from manuscript to finished book.

Co-Publishers – Co-publishers design their programs so they are “sharing costs”. For most Co-publishers, the term “co-publishing” is actually just a fancy way of not calling themselves a vanity press. However, there are several quality co-publishers out there that can help a new author get their book packaged and ready for sale.

Distributor – Distributors are companies hired by publishers that will warehouse, fulfill and sell your book. They will take a percentage of your sales and a percentage against your returns. Most distributors have a sales team that actively sells your title (IPG, NBN, etc.)

Fulfillment House – A fulfillment house will pick, pack and ship your book. They will also ensure your book is available at the major wholesalers (Ingram, Baker & Taylor) and Amazon as well as the .com sites (,,, etc). They will also handle all of your billing and collections.

– A warehouse picks, packs, and ships your book only. Some warehouses handle billing but many do not. Major publishers tend to have their own warehouse services.

– A company used by retailers and libraries to supply books in a timely and efficient manner.  The number one place any self-published author needs to be! If you’re not listed at Ingram and Baker & Taylor, you cannot be ordered easily by bookstores and libraries.

Happy Friday everyone!