Thursday, July 4, 2013

IngramSpark Update - Is the New Company User Friendly?

With a wedding coming this fall, the youngest on a traveling gymnastics team, still paying for child number two's college and hoping to have some money set aside one day to retire, I am always looking for ways to make more money in my "second job" as a self-published author. Anything I can do to increase sales and do so with as little actual monetary investment (other than my time) is a topic I am constantly researching.

Broadening my distribution in hopes of increasing sales is one of avenues of investigation. When I first heard of Ingram's decision to launch IngramSpark, I took note. I even shared my initial ideas on the subject on this blog.

What were my hopes? Simple, actually. They included:
  • easy to use
  • no cash outlay, or at least minimal
  • an greater access to the reading public
Upon IngramSpark's launch, I was well, dismayed. To put it simply, I don't really have time to master the learning curve to use Ingram's new division. Lightning Source, which I do use for POD and distribution for one book, was complicated enough to make me publish the other 30+ non-fiction books I have authored on CreateSpace.

Rather than summarize my frustrations with trying to gain some insight into the IngramSpark site, I will encourage you to read a masterful review by none other than Aaron Shepard, one of the foremost advocates in the self-publishing field in using LSI and Ingram as key components of a business model.

Why take the time to investigate IngramSpark? 

If you are looking for print-on-demand services, ebook and paper distribution on a global scale and don't mind dealing with the complicated procedures, by all means, investigate further.

I all have to say in judgement is I have come to value my time a little more. I am still very willing to invest time, effort and frustration in learning something that will help my tiny business achieve my goals for it. But my limited business time has become valuable enough to me financially that there are limits.

I use CreateSpace for my POD and distribution, both in North America and Europe, via Amazon. I use Amazon KDP for my Kindle books and BN's Pubit to sell ebooks for the Nook. Recently I even expanded my ebook distribution to Kobo.

I don't have to learn any new skills to make my books available using these companies as my distributors and purchase points for readers. Not so for IngramSpark. 

CreateSpace and KDP, and KDP's competitors, are simply too easy to use. If I had one goal for IngramSpark it would be to match that ease of use for small publishers and self-publishing authors. That would ignite serious competition for Amazon's companies and the others, which would benefit authors, small publishers and the consumer public as well.  I simply see no evidence using IngramSpark would make my life easier as a an author and publisher by using its services.

If the company will work to become as userfriendly as CreateSpace, KDP, Pubit and Kobo, I will certainly revisit the idea of using IngramSpark. Until then, I have other ways to invest my time.