Self-Publishing: Print, E-book or Both? (Part 2)

To read or review Part One of this series, “Self-Publishing: Print, E-book or Both?” click HERE.

To get your book, whether print or electronic, in front of your reader’s eyes, you must proceed through the following areas:

  1. BUDGETING. (This is placed first intentionally. Open a spreadsheet or start a list in pencil right away. Jot down and change costs as they come up. Expand number of columns to compare options, vendors, etc.)
  2. ADMINISTRATIVE requirements. (ISBN numbers, copyright registration, URLs, IDs and passwords, book description, and author bios. Put this type of data in a single file you can access easily; you will be going there frequently.)
  3. FORMATTING. (This includes the cover design/text and body copy, including internal graphics. Requirements will be different for print and e-book.)
  4. PRODUCTION. (Major step for print book. Much simpler for e-book.)
  5. DISTRIBUTION. (Where your self-publishing service provider is the key player.)
  6. MARKETING. (Where, like it or not, you are the key player.)

This virtually repeats the list I gave in Part One but put more practically. The process should feel less daunting if you keep these six areas in mind while choosing your publishing method and working through it. We are now considering the print/e-book combination so as to reach all possible readers, and the printed book will be POD (Print-on-Demand).

Introducing IngramSpark and CreateSpace

The two main players that provide both POD and e-book publication with most or all the necessary services in the six steps above are IngramSpark and CreateSpace. (Apologies to other vendors—and there are some good ones out there—but space limits the discussion here.)

IngramSpark is a self-publishing service provided by the industry-leading book distributor, Ingram. While its sister company, Lightning Source, has long provided printing services to large publishers, IngramSpark, a more recent addition, offers comparable printing and distribution to small and independent publishers. The e-book can be added when ordering a print book or tacked on later. Books published with Lightning Source and IngramSpark enjoy the vast distribution network of the parent company, Ingram.  IS offers additional printing options including hardcover printing and more reasonable internal color printing than CreateSpace.

CreateSpace Publishing is a print-on-demand (POD) service affiliated with Amazon, thus providing self-publishers with the vaunted marketing and distribution services of CS interfaces smoothly with KDP (Amazon’s Kindle) for e-book production. CreateSpace requires less user expertise in the publishing process that IS.

So, what’s the difference between IS and CS? Glad you asked. Spoiler alert: I don’t intend to pit these two giants against each other with one winning and the other losing. They have different strengths and are best used in tandem.

Comparing IS and CS

IngramSpark On-line Dashboard
IngramSpark On-line Dashboard
CreateSpace On-line Dashboard
CreateSpace On-line Dashboard

Several on-line articles explain the differences and compare the costs and strength of IS versus CS. Google it. Study as many as possible. Let  the similarities and differences sink in.

One such is “IngramSpark vs CreateSpace: Battle of the Print on Demand Services,” by Dave Chesson. After noting that both services are “very similar, meaning they deliver essentially the same results,” he provides a chart that compares the two in 12 areas (upfront cost, yearly subscription, cost to make changes, average cost per book type, etc.). Dave does a lot of essential homework for you. In the end, he chooses CreateSpace, a conclusion different from others and my own, but valid for someone who wants a more simplified service.

Another good piece is “KDP, CreateSpace, IngramSpark & Payhip: 4 Routes to Readers,” by Ali Dewji of I_AM Self-Publishing. Despite being something of an ad for the site’s self-publishing service, it provides an excellent description and comparison of the enterprises in the title. For CS and IS, check out “What’s good about it?” and “What’s not so good about it?” What he says about KDP (Kindle) and Payhip is informative. He concludes, quite in line with the consensus opinion, that “All four options have their merits and if you have a paperback and an e-book, they are all worth using to provide a really solid network from which your book can be bought. This gives your potential readers the freedom to purchase from whatever channel that they like.”

Best in Combination

 Fortunately for me, a precise and exhaustive comparison between IngramSpark and CreateSpace was done by Giacomo Giammatteo on two websites, his own in Part One and Part Two and on that of the Alliance of Independent Authors. While the base material in the two versions is the same, there is enough difference to make both worth perusing. These were written in 2014; services and numbers have somewhat changed in the interim. There are some excellent reference charts, namely “Giacomo’s 5 Basic Categories,” “Comparison between IS and CS by features,” “Profits based on Channels of Distribution,” and “Summary of Pros and Cons”—perhaps worth printing for reference.

Use Both Barrels

Giammatteo’s conclusion, entitled “A Good Option,” is worth quoting in full:

What I do is use both CS and Ingram.

I use CS for the advantages it offers:

  • Fast and good distribution to Amazon.
  • Fast and affordable shipping to US customers.
  • Shipping “review copies” to bloggers and/or for giveaways like on Goodreads.

And I use Ingram for the advantages it offers:

  • Distribution to all stores except Amazon.
  • Fast and affordable shipping to international customers.
  • Shipping high-quality copies as samples to bookstores, for autographed copies, etc.

A more recent post (May 2016), Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark by Amy Collins, corroborates Giacomo’s, the consensus, and my own conclusion.

Self-Publishing: Summary

Bicycle Built for Two
Bicycle Built for Two

Self-publishing, also called independent publishing as Theresa Crater reminded me in a comment on last week’s blog, has assumed a proper place alongside, and perhaps even in front of, traditional publishing, also called legacy publishing per Theresa. Self-publishing, by whatever name, is here to stay. We might as well master it. Stay informed and remain flexible.

Keep your purpose (target audience) in mind and reduce your options (print/e-book/both, do-it-yourself or a self-publishing service, IS/CS/both) at the outset.

Pay attention to the six phases (BUDGETING, ADMINISTRATIVE, FORMATTING, PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, MARKETING), not skipping or skimping on any, but not hanging too long on any one either. Use a self-publishing service to do what you can’t or don’t want to do yourself.

And, above all, keep on writing creatively. I find that if I split my day between administrative/promotional work and new composition, I finish up with left and right brains in balance rather than listing precariously to either starboard or port.

Finally, let us know with a Comment below about your own self-publishing experiences as a VF author. I’ll bet you all have valuable self-publishing do’s and don’ts to share.


5 thoughts on “Self-Publishing: Print, E-book or Both? (Part 2)

  1. robingregory says:

    Very helpful, Victor. Thank you so much. My book is with IngramSpark. So far they are of little help with distribution, so I’m considering other avenues. Also, I’m taking my ebook off Amazon KDP Select because I don’t like the “pay for pages read” policy, and they limit my ability to do giveaways.


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