DISTRIBUTING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS: CREATESPACE + INGRAMSPARK
"Hi Ksenia. I'm researching which way to go with self-publishing and am veering toward CreateSpace. [I heard] you use them with your books but that you are looking at Ingram for libraries and bookstores. I didn't realize that you could use both, but what I liked about Ingram is that they have access to the bookstores. Did you get your own ISBN #'s? I've read that is the way to go. I'd appreciate any guidance you can give me."
Thank you for reaching out, Mandy. I suppose it's time I summarize my experience with both channels. It's been two months since I have pulled Rosehead and Irkadura from CreateSpace's expanded distribution channels and posted them on IngramSpark (Ingram's indie distribution arm).
Many of you have told me that you have successfully ordered my books from bookstores and got them in the libraries, which means I did it right. It was not without a few hiccups, though, and I'm still learning the whole system, but I will outline what has happened when I did the change, and what I will do when I publish The Badlings and set it up to distribute via both channels from scratch.
At first I distributed my paperbacks via CreateSpace only (plus I distributed ebooks via other online channels like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play etc.).
I got free CreateSpace ISBNs after reading Hugh Howey's encouraging blog post where he states that he did the same. I figured, it worked for him, it will work for me. It did. I have happily selected all 6 distribution channels, the 3 standard ones (Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, CreateSpace eStore) and the 3 Expanded Distribution ones (Bookstores and Online Retailers, Libraries and Academic Institutions, CreateSpace Direct). You guys told me you were able to order my books from bookstores and get them in the libraries. I thought, "Awesome! I'm done." Only I wasn't.
I got invited to do a reading at Spokane's Auntie's Bookstore, and the lovely staff there told me that they got a few of my books to stock but only because people demanded them. It was going to make them no profit if they sold them, they told me. I couldn't understand why. They said I needed to get my books on Ingram so that they could buy them at a 55% discount to make a profit. It was the first time I heard about Ingram. I set out to investigate.
Turns out, Ingram was used by all traditional publishers, and bookstores were used to the system. It made sense, business-wise. I mean, why buy merchandise for your store if you can't make a profit on it? I had my own startup for about 5 years, and I knew that if I didn't make at least a 50% profit on my product, I was toast. So the 55% discount made sense. After searching the wide sparkling internets about it, I found this and this blog posts by Giacomo Giammatteo on how he uses both CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and I set out to do the same.
The rest of the post is here.