Using Both IngramSpark and KDP for Paperback Printing

This post explains the ins and outs of how I use both KDP and IngramSpark and why other authors might want to.

I first posted this information on the Facebook Group 20Booksto50K. There are lots of helpful comments on the thread. I’ve incorporated some of the information into this blog post, but check out the original Facebook post for even more information.

Please note that some of this information is specific to U.S. authors.

WHY USE INGRAMSPARK?

PRE-ORDERS & AUTHOR COPIES

IngramSpark allows pre-orders and allows you to purchase author copies before the book is released. KDP Print doesn’t allow either of these. (Yes, KDP lets you get proof copies, but they’re marked as such. You can’t pre-purchase copies to sell in person or on your website.)

I like having both my e-book and my paperback on pre-order on Amazon, and I like pre-ordering author copies that I can have on hand before the book is “live.”

ROYALTY RATE

KDP Print will allow you to set up Expanded Distribution so other sellers can sell your book. But the royalty cut if your book is sold by non-Amazon sellers is very low.

When someone buys your KDP Print book through Amazon, your cut is 60% minus the print cost. With Expanded Distribution, if the book is sold by non-Amazon sellers, your cut goes down to 40% minus the print cost.

IngramSpark allows you to set a Wholesale Discount rate between 30-55%. The Wholesale Discount is the amount IngramSpark discounts your book when they sell wholesale copies—basically it’s the retail profit if the retailer sells at full price. With a 30% wholesale discount, your royalty is 70% minus print cost. With 55% wholesale discount, royalty is 45% minus print cost.

Why would you set a 55% Wholesale Discount? Because a lot of bookstores require it in order to stock your book. Plus they require you to enable returns (where they can return your book if the copies don’t sell). It’s really hard to make a profit at those royalty rates, especially if they end up returning books.

Having my book on bookstore shelves is not a big priority of mine. So I set my wholesale discount at 30%. (35% is the lowest allowed in some international markets.) Online retailers (Amazon, B&N website, etc.) allow this low discount. When someone buys my IngramSpark book online, I make a really nice profit…rather than making pennies with KDP Expanded Distribution.

Note: A commenter on my Facebook post pointed out that Barnes & Noble has allowed him to do book signings with just a 40% Wholesale Discount on his books through Ingram. You’ll need to check with your local Barnes & Noble if you’re interested in going this route.

WHY USE KDP PRINT?

STOCKING ISSUES AT AMAZON

Once Amazon sells all the copies of my book that they ordered from IngramSpark, they won’t order more unless I have good sales coming in. And I just don’t sell that many paperbacks.

When that last book gets sold, the status of my paperback on Amazon changes. They might say it will take a couple of weeks to ship, or even a couple of months. They may even say it’s out of stock. By publishing with KDP Print, the book is ALWAYS “in stock” without a print delay.

My royalty is slightly less than with IngramSpark, but it’s worth it to never be out of stock or have long shipping delays.

BE PREPARED FOR EXTRA COSTS

COVERS

KDP and IngramSpark use different paper. For my books, which I print on cream paper, the IngramSpark copies are thinner. So the paperback covers for the two printers are slightly different dimensions. The thicker the book, the bigger the difference. IngramSpark and KDP also have different formats for submitting files. Your cover designer may charge extra for the additional version of the paperback cover.

ISBNs

One other thing to consider is that you’ll need an ISBN if you use both IngramSpark and KDP. (Either service will provide one for free if you want them to…but you can only use that free ISBN with that particular service, as they own it and will be listed as your publisher.)

I spent over $500 on a pack of 100 ISBNs before I published my first book. It was a painful purchase, but I figure I’ll probably never need to buy ISBNs again. One ISBN individually is over $100, so buying in bulk helps.

Please don’t go to a reseller to purchase a discount ISBN. They own it, not you, and they can pull your book from publication if they want to.

UPLOAD & REVISION CHARGES

IngramSpark charges $49 to upload a book, plus $25 for each revision. There are usually coupon codes floating around to cover uploads and, less often, codes to cover revisions.

I’m a member of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors), and they have a code for members that makes initial upload AND all revisions free. I pay $99 a year for that membership.

HOW IT WORKS USING BOTH SERVICES

ISBN

First, purchase an ISBN. You’ll the same ISBN for both KDP Print and IngramSpark. In the U.S., you’ll purchase your ISBN through Bowker.

UPLOAD TO INGRAMSPARK FIRST, IF DOING A PRE-ORDER

I always upload to IngramSpark first, because I do pre-orders, which KDP Print doesn’t offer.

I upload to IngramSpark & use the future publication date as both the Publication AND On-Sale date. Within a few days, the book automatically shows up on Amazon as a pre-order paperback. I ask Amazon to link the paperback and e-book, and when that’s done, I start marketing the pre-order.

Shortly before publication, Amazon purchases some copies from IngramSpark. In my experience, they purchase enough books to fulfill the pre-orders…plus some extras.

If you aren’t doing a pre-order, you may choose to upload to KDP first. Do not select Expanded Distribution, as that will make it very difficult to use the same ISBN on IngramSpark.

UPLOAD TO KDP ON PUBLICATION DAY

On publication day, I publish the paperback on KDP. The transition is seamless, because the ISBN is the same. The listing remains right where it was, linked to my e-book.

A NOTE ABOUT GETTING PAID

After you hit “Publish” on KDP Print, people who order your paperback may still get IngramSpark copies, if Amazon still has some on their warehouse shelves.

With my first series, people told me they’d ordered my books…but I didn’t see any KDP Print sales. I thought Amazon was failing to pay me. It took months to track down the reason—those were sales through Ingram that I’d already been credited for, extra books Amazon had ordered during the pre-order period. Once Amazon sold out of those books, they started printing new orders through KDP.

Hope this was helpful! Leave any questions in the comments.

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