An experience that would shatter any author’s expectations of IngramSpark
First, I will say I do not have any direct experience of IngramSpark as a published author. I started an account in early January 2022 when I was planning to launch my second book, but thought I should check with them to ensure their inks were vegan. And they had this to say:
Sooo disappointing. Amazon uses vegan ink globally, but I didn’t want my book to be just on Amazon, so I went with Lulu and I’m mostly happy with how everything turned out. I also know that Mitali at The Vegan Publisher has a team member who’s harassing IngramSpark on a monthly-or-so basis about their inks, so maybe they will turn around sooner than later.
The one reason I still recommend IngramSpark to clients is because I know physical bookstores will not even consider carrying your book unless you distribute through IngramSpark. Mitali will tell you the same thing. Here’s the email response I got from my alma mater (University of British Columbia)’s bookstore:
A few months ago, I helped an author client navigate IngramSpark—which was difficult, but learnable. His proof took 3 weeks to arrive and he started to freak out around the 2.5 week mark, so ordered another one expedited. What I like about IngramSpark is that you can set a launch day, however when that day rolled around and I went to social to promote the book, there was no book cover nor Kindle to be found on Amazon.
I came across this video by Mandi Lynn at Stone Ridge Books on YouTube and it confirmed how difficult IngramSpark can be to work with. So while this is not a “never use them” post, it IS worth warning y’all you might come across the same roadblocks, even if you have used the platform for your books before.
Video and transcript (shared with permission) follow below (headers were added by me).
I’ve been actually dreading recording this video for a while, because I know it’s gonna be a long video and I just—I’m angry, but I’m not as angry as I was last week when all this was happening.
So I figured now that I’ve calmed down and I can speak about things from a factual standpoint rather than a super opinionated standpoint, that this will be better for everyone. So if you guys follow me on Instagram, then you know that I had an utter fiasco with IngramSpark, and this video is to tell you all about why I will literally never work with IngramSpark again, and we’ll dissect the entire thing.
On June second, I uploaded a video that was a tutorial on how to do paperback or hardcover pre-orders through IngramSpark. I have to work with IngramSpark quite a bit over the past couple years. And every single time I’ve published a book, I’ve had an issue. But I figured at this point, I had figured out all the nooks and crannies of IngramSpark, and that I knew what exactly you need to do to avoid the errors. Because IngramSpark just isn’t user friendly. But I was like, “I know what I’m doing now. I’ve figured it out.” What I didn’t anticipate though, was the fact that the way they work on the back end has significantly changed and they didn’t really tell anyone. I mean, maybe they announced it in an email newsletter, but I certainly did not get the memo. And I crashed and burned because of it.
This experience with IngramSpark has literally been the most stressful, annoying, frustrating, and stupid experience of my book publishing career probably because I had falsely assumed that I had figured out how IngramSpark works, and that I’d actually be able to go through an experience with them without any hiccups. And I was brutally wrong.
I’m going to admit, I’m biased. I’ve never been a huge fan of IngramSpark, because like I said, they’re not super user friendly. They don’t make it utterly clear on how you should be doing things. And also, they don’t have great customer service. In fact, I would say they actually have the worst customer service that I’ve ever experienced.
But I decided to give them a second chance when they made this huge announcement that they were removing their publishing fees and their revision fees, but only within the first 60 days. After that you have to pay revision fees. But they were making this big to do about making publishing easier and more accessible. And I was like, “Yes, IngramSpark, this is what we’ve wanted the whole time.” So I gave them a second chance. And I utterly regretted it.
If you want to know the details behind the exact updates that IngramSpark made to their publishing fees, I actually made a whole video on it. When you watch the video, you’ll find that I’m very hopeful and actually excited about the changes. And now I’m not. So you know, past Mandy was very hopeful.
Now, like I said, I uploaded a video on June second, with a tutorial on how to do pre-orders and blah, blah, blah. That video is now unlisted. I will leave that video linked in the description of this video if you want to go ahead and watch it, but I could not in good conscience leave the video published because the whole point of the video was, this is how you do pre-orders. This is how you do pre-orders without messing up. And I had a very big piece of the puzzle that I was missing at the time because IngramSpark changed the way they do things and I did not know that.
Alright, before we go into storytime—because I’m gonna give you guys an exact play by play of exactly how things happened when they happened, all of that—I have to give a little bit of a disclosure. I had taken screenshots of everything. I took screenshots of all the emails. Of all the correspondence. I was going to share them in this YouTube video, along with my own emails that I sent. And then I looked into the legality of that. I’m not sure if I’m legally allowed to share screenshots of emails that have been sent to me because they didn’t give consent for those emails to be shared.
I will give you a little bit of a lowdown of everything that happened though, and what was said in the emails because 90% of those emails were copy and paste customer service emails anyways.
So let’s start at where everything went downhill. So like I said, I posted my tutorial video on June second. And then June fifth is when it all went to shit. So when I set up my book for pre-order, I set up my book for pre-order with temporary files. And this is because my book wasn’t completely proofread yet. So I just uploaded the version of the book that I had so far, and was like, “Okay, I’ll upload the final files later on.” In the past, IngramSpark operated where as long as you uploaded your final files 10 business days before publication day, then you’d be perfectly fine. The book would be printed and it would be the final files.
“PENDING REVISION” STATUS
So if my book releases June 23rd, that meant the final day to upload for me was June ninth, but I wanted to be extra safe. So I went to upload my final files on June fifth, in case I came into any issues. And I did. So when I went to go upload the final interior files I found that I couldn’t. Like, it was locked. And I couldn’t edit anything because my book status was titled “pending revision.” I was like, “What does that even mean?” So I went to IngramSpark’s lovely help area because it’s basically a giant encyclopedia that they’ve created with a lot of lingo and language that doesn’t always make sense and that you have to work really hard to break down and digest. But they had a page to let you know what all these different title status meanings were. So title “pending revision.” What does that mean, according to IngramSpark? “If your book was already in distribution, when you uploaded revised files, any orders that have already been placed will need to be fulfilled before we can process the revised files in our system. Until the orders have all been printed, your title will show as pending revision. If your book is selling well, and we continue to receive orders, it may take some time before the revised files can be processed.”
And when I read that, I was like, “You guys aren’t supposed to be printing my book yet.” I was utterly confused. I’m like, this book doesn’t release till June 23rd. It is June fifth. I’m supposed to have until June ninth to upload my files. Why are you printing my book already?
So let me explain what had kind of happened behind the scenes. On May 19 is when I first submitted all of my files to IngramSpark to start the pre-order process. And then on May 29th, I had a revised version of the cover. So I went to go upload the new cover of the book to IngramSpark. And by doing that, I got myself stuck in the title “pending revision” status, because they didn’t want to use these new files until the previous copies of the book had been printed. And people had ordered four copies of the book so far. And this cover file that I’d uploaded is what was holding everything up. They didn’t want to use the new cover file yet, because they had four copies of the book printed. Even though it had already been a couple of days, IngramSpark is just really slow to print. And it left me in this stressful little vortex.
So there is a little bit of a plus side here of changes that IngramSpark made. Because previously, when you had pre-orders of your book, you didn’t actually get to see how many people were pre-ordering your book. Basically, what happened is, if you had a print pre-order of your book, you didn’t see any sales on the back end until release day, when those copies of the book were printed and shipped out. Basically back then, you would just kind of sit blindly being like, “I could be selling 10 books, no books, or 100 books. I would never know.” But IngramSpark did make the update that as people pre-ordered the book, you actually got to see that stat on the back end and know that at least sales were happening. So that’s a plus side, I got to see that I had made four pre-orders so far.
So I did the only thing that I could think of doing which is to email them because that’s the only customer support that they have. I wrote them an email explaining the situation that I couldn’t upload my new files. And my status was titled “pending revision.” And I didn’t understand why because I still had more than 10 business days to upload my book. They shouldn’t be printing my book yet. And then I sent that email. And then, you know, because I can’t talk to anyone on the phone, I just started to panic.
And in my panic, I started looking into their Help Forum a little bit more and found their help page for pre-orders and exactly how to do pre-orders for your book. Now I had read this page before because I’ve done print pre-orders a couple of different times in the past, and I’ve done them incorrectly. So I’ve become very familiar with this page, and how not to do pre-orders. So naturally, when I go to do a pre-order again, I didn’t think I needed to check the page, because it did not occur to me that they would have changed the way they do pre-orders. So as I’m reading over this page on how to do pre-orders, they’re talking about stuff that I already knew. I’m like, “Yeah, I know the on sale date and the publishing date have to be the same. Like I know that. I learned that the hard way.” And then I see a line in big red bold letters: “IngramSpark may begin printing titles as soon as the title is enabled for distribution.” And I looked over the page over and over again, because I know previously it used to say 10 business days. And now it didn’t. Now it just said in big, bold red letters, that they start printing right away, as long as the book is enabled for distribution. And in case you’re wondering, in order to do pre-orders, your book has to be enabled for distribution. So basically, they’re saying that the only way to do pre-orders for your book and do them correctly, is if you have the final files ready, when you set up your book for pre-order. Otherwise, you’re screwed, and they’ll print the wrong edition of your book. But they don’t say that during the uploading process. They say that on the help page that you have to go find and sift through yourself, which I guarantee you 99% of authors don’t do that because I didn’t do it until it was an issue and there was nothing I could do about it.
CUSTOMER SERVICE HELL
So at this point, I wasn’t too panicked, because I was like, “It’s only four copies.” But I was more annoyed because I was trying to get in contact with IngramSpark, and I know IngramSpark. And even though I emailed them, I knew that it would be maybe a couple days before I heard from them, because they just don’t have great customer service. But I do know in the past that when I’ve angrily tagged them on Instagram, that does get a response out of them. And that is something I’ve actually heard from other authors as well, where they get just copy and paste responses from IngramSpark, but then if you threaten them, or be rude in an email, then they actually really respond to you, instead of just giving you a copy and paste response, which is ridiculous that in order to get decent customer service, I have to threaten them. That’s not okay.
But in my effort to try to contact them, I noticed that above their little option to email them, there’s something called IngramSpark Connect. So just out of curiosity, I clicked on it. And it’s a phone call. I think it’s a phone call. It’s either a phone call or video chat, I’m not really sure. But either way, it’s something you schedule and you have to pay for. So if you want to do a 60 minute chat, it’s $42, or a 30 minute chat is $25. And basically, I’m not even sure if this is actual customer service. I think it’s just if you have questions about the uploading process, or any of that, you can schedule a call and they’ll answer questions.
I’m frustrated, because it’s like, if I want to talk to someone, I have to pay you for your time. Like, you’re already getting money from me, when I publish my books. Why do I also have to pay for customer service? Like, I can’t think of an example of a place where I’ve had to pay to talk to someone on the phone for customer service.
And again, I’m not even sure if this is customer service. I think this is if you’re a new author who’s confused by the IngramSpark interface, you can schedule a call and they’ll explain it to you. But if you have to schedule a call to have a platform explained to you, that means it’s not a very user-friendly platform. So what IngramSpark should be doing is instead of having someone assigned to answering these phone calls to explain the interface of the website, they should be designing a better website that makes sense and makes it clear. Like to me that just screams “I’m not a user friendly interface.” But I just wanted to mention that because that irritated me a lot.
So let’s talk about June seventh, because now two days have passed and I still haven’t heard back from anyone, because at this point, I was starting to panic, I still couldn’t go and upload the updated files into IngramSpark, I was still locked out of doing that for my book. And I remembered that I had a contact at IngramSpark because a couple months ago, they reached out to me because they wanted to do a sponsorship. They wanted to do like a partner program sort of thing. Because they were trying to you know, get in with influencers and make IngramSpark and more positive name in the community. Because thus far people like me have not had positive experiences and we’ve posted about it on YouTube and Instagram. And it looks bad for business. So you know, they wanted to work with me.
And when they first reached out, I had mixed feelings. Basically, I gave them a list of issues that I had with IngramSpark and was like, “Hey, I am not comfortable doing a sponsored video. I’m not comfortable taking money from you guys and doing a video that would be biased because I just don’t think it would be—I think it would come off very clearly that the video is sponsored by IngramSpark because in the past, I’ve said in almost every single video that mentions IngramSpark that they’re not user friendly, so it just wouldn’t work.” And I just let them know like, “Here are the things that I think you guys should improve upon.” And they listened to me. Like, they seemed like, “Okay, this is great, we’ll improve on those things. And here’s what we’re doing to improve on that.” And I was like, “This is great, even though I’m not going to be like working with them, at least I know, I’m able to be a voice in the author community.” So hopefully, IngramSpark gets better. I didn’t end up doing a sponsored video with them, obviously. But what I did end up doing was I shared a coupon code that was exclusive to my followers in one of my newsletters, that was for IngramSpark, because this was before they got rid of all the publishing fees.
So because I had someone I was in contact with at IngramSpark, I reached out to that person and I emailed them. And I was like, “Hey, I know you’re not customer service. But this is what’s going on. It’s not turning out great. It’s super stressful.” I tried to explain the situation. And then I ended the email with, “For reference, this is why I hesitate to do a sponsored video or unbiased video with IngramSpark because I have a hard time promoting the service when I personally have run into issues with them every single time I publish.”
So I was trying to show that I was being frustrated. But I was trying to be nice, like there’s nothing that this lady has done yet that has, you know, she doesn’t deserve my wrath. And I knew that I probably likely wouldn’t hear back from her right away. But I was hoping within like maybe 24 hours. That didn’t happen. Which brings us to June eighth.
Remember, I first reached out to customer support on June fifth. On June eighth, I got a lovely email from customer support that basically said they wouldn’t be able to help me and they were sending my request to someone else higher up in the customer support help area. And so basically, at least I was like, “Oh, they got my email. They can’t help me right now. But they got my email, and they’re sending my email to someone else who probably already has hundreds or 1000s of emails in front of my own email. So great.”
YOU CAN’T REVISE YOUR OWN BOOK FILE
Which brings us to June ninth. Again, I first contacted customer support, June fifth. And I’m just gonna read this out because it’s copy and paste off of their website. This is more or less what the email said that I got from customer support finally. “When you upload a revised file to replace an existing file, it can take longer than a few days for processing.” Granted, it had been like a week and a half at this point. “Once a title enters distribution, the revision process can take extra time. And the amount of time taken will vary for each uploaded file.” And then there’s a lot of other words that are boring and complicated trying to explain the situation. But the important part is at the end here: “Revisions are not processed until all orders, distribution and short run, for the title are printed and shipped.”
I just wanted to make a very important point because the whole point of it when you’re setting up your book for pre-order, they tell you over and over that the on-sale date and the publication date need to be the same, because the on-sale date is the date where the book actually starts printing and shipping, specifically shipping. So the fact that they’re telling me that even though the on-sale date is set for June 23rd that they’re already working on printing and shipping is just so confusing to me. And honestly, it just makes another contradictory statement where they say that you need to set an on-sale date. But what’s the point of the on-sale date if they’re already trying to ship copies early?
So those four books that were ordered was what was holding everything up, because those four books needed to be printed and shipped before they would take new files for my book.
Except it wasn’t just for books anymore. Because the next day, I logged into my IngramSpark account. And I proceeded to cry and panic, because now, instead of four books, it said 25. And that’s a significant difference. So on June ninth, I had actually left my house to go on like a weekend vacation. But I brought my laptop with me because obviously everything was not going well. And I knew I needed access to my laptop at any given moment. So that’s why I didn’t realize how much of an issue this was until around lunchtime on June tenth when I got around to checking my email and logging into my IngramSpark account, and basically everything imploded. I cried, had a little bit of a hissy fit. It was lovely. And at that point, I still hadn’t heard back from my contact at IngramSpark.
And I reached out to IngramSpark again, to be like, “Hey, this is really important. Like, you need to let me update my files, otherwise the book printed will be incorrect.” And I was like, “There’s 25 books that need to be printed. They cannot be printed. Like, I understand that this isn’t how you guys operate, but I’m panicking and someone needs to help me.” And again, I was just getting copy and paste response after copy and paste response. And it was making me so angry.
So at this point, when I still haven’t heard from my contact at IngramSpark, and the customer service people, were just giving me a bunch of copy and paste email responses, I decided to reach out to my contact at IngramSpark again. And I’m going to say this, knowing how unfair this is of me, because I have a contact at IngramSpark and you guys do not. And I think that’s a part that pisses me off even more, because I have access to someone who can kind of nudge things along a little bit more and you guys don’t. If you guys came into the same issue as me, there would probably be no solve to this. And that makes me very angry.
“I WILL NEVER BE WORKING WITH INGRAMSPARK AGAIN”
So I’m gonna read you guys the second email that I had sent to my contact at IngramSpark when I didn’t hear from her, because it had been almost a full week. And that’s just not like her. Like, normally she does respond right away. And I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t responding just because things were going bad. And she just didn’t want anything to do with me. So I just wanted to make it clear how I felt. So my email said, “To say I’m deeply disappointed is an understatement. I thought since you contacted me about doing a sponsored video in the past that you would want to help ensure I have a positive experience with IngramSpark. I’ve been in contact with customer support for the past couple days, have gotten only copy and paste responses that do nothing to actually resolve my issue. Since IngramSpark did not make it clear that they would be printing my book right away for a book that doesn’t release for another month, I now have 25 editions of my book being printed that are incorrect. This is not how IngramSpark operated in the past. So my entire experience has been an utter nightmare. I will be removing all my books from IngramSpark’s distribution, will never be working with IngramSpark again, and plan on posting a video about my honest and negative experience on YouTube so no other author has to go through the absolute nightmare that I’ve been going through. It’s clear to me that IngramSpark does not care about their customers, because I have to wait days to hear back only to get a generic copy and paste response that isn’t helpful. And the only way I can talk to someone on the phone is to pay is clear money comes first.” So obviously I was not in a good mood when I wrote that email. Um, that’s probably the rudest email I’ve ever written to anyone. And I’m not proud of that.
I was just so frustrated because in the past, when I pointed things out to IngramSpark, and pointed out issues, they seemed eager to fix them, or at least look into them. And I understand running a business is running a business. It’s not black and white and as simple as we think it is. And having good customer service isn’t as simple as we think it is. But I was just so angry, because I’m like, you’re willing to invest to have me do a sponsored video, and I’m sure other people to do a sponsored video, but you’re not willing to invest in better customer service.
In my opinion, if you don’t have good customer service, you don’t have good business, especially for something like a print on demand company where people are going to have issues. And obviously IngramSpark does not set up their interface to be user-friendly. So they’re going to have even more issues. So I’m willing to bet if they just fixed the way their business operated and made their interface easier and more obvious on how to use it and what the rules are of doing things like pre-orders, then they would have less inquiries into customer support, and then therefore need less staff to answer emails.
I later learned that their Customer Support team was backed up by thousands of emails. So in case you’re wondering why, when you write to IngramSpark you don’t hear back from them for days, that’s why. Because they have so many requests coming in every single day for customer support. But again, if their interface was set up better, and they made their rules around publishing and how to meet deadlines, and all of that more clear, then they wouldn’t have people contacting them five times a day for the same issue because they’re not hearing back from customer support. Because let me tell you, when I started to panic, I think I sent in five different requests to the same person for the same issue. And that’s when it occurred to me like, “Oh, here’s the issue.” Because as an author, you start to panic. And you think the only way I can get a response is to send them a bunch of emails and then you’re just adding to the problem and it’s a huge thing.
So then it’s just this little cycle that IngramSpark has created for itself. And they are having a hard time fixing the problem. So like I said, at this point, I was getting super, super, super annoyed. So I made another post on Instagram kind of expressing my annoyance and letting people know not to pre-order the paperback book anymore, because it would be incorrect. And I tagged IngramSpark, because like I said earlier, I find that I get better and faster customer support when I tag them on Instagram, and do it angrily, which again, is not how customer support should work. You should get good customer support without needing to post angry stuff on social media.
So lo and behold, I believe it was like a couple hours later, I got a response from IngramSpark on Instagram saying that they responded to my email. So I went to check my email again. And it turned out, I did have a response. And the response for was from my contact at IngramSpark. And she was letting me know that she was deeply sorry, and that she was out of office and she was forwarding her messages to someone else who she didn’t know was also out of office. So the messages were just being forwarded to no one, and nothing was happening. And she was sorry about it. And she was just like, “I’m gonna do my best to fix this issue.” And I basically told her, the only way to fix this at this point is to cancel those 25 orders. And they did not do that. And my request was basically ignored, because I’m sure it’s not an option, but I figured I would give it a shot.
SOME EXCEPTIONS MAY APPLY
And then I noticed I also had another email coming from the IngramSpark customer support. And it was another copy and paste email. But it was a little more specific to my problem. Because I said to them, “I tried uploading this before the 10 business days. Why are you printing my book?” And they responded with: “IngramSpark generally begins printing 10 business days before on sale and publication date. However, some exceptions may apply.” And I’m like, “What the heck does that mean? That’s not even the same thing that your website says. Your website says you just start printing right away. So if that’s the case, just tell me that. Don’t tell me it’s 10 business days and some exceptions may apply.” Like what does that even mean? I’m the exception. Am I that special?
So the message also said: “IngramSpark may begin printing titles, as soon as the title is enabled for distribution,” which is what their website did say. And then it also said, “If you submit a revision with a new cover and/or interior file after you add distribution to the title, there’s a high risk your latest files won’t be the ones printed and shipped to the buyer,” which I already knew from their website. But I was just like, “Why is this information you’re telling me here slightly different from the information that’s on your website?” And that’s the most frustrating thing; when the website that’s supposed to be like the clear, “This is how you do stuff” is slightly different from what customer service is telling you.
But either way, at the end of the day, they’re still saying, the book gets printed right away no matter what, even if it’s before the 10 business days, which I just find so strange. Anyways, all of this fiasco was happening while I was on my little weekend vacation. So there was only so much that I could do. But I did come up with a slight fix the problem, because IngramSpark was making it pretty clear that I was screwed. So I was like, alright, there’s nothing I can do about the 25 orders that have already been placed. But let me do something about future pre-orders.
AMAZON KDP TO THE RESCUE
So on June twelfth, it was Monday, I was back from my trip, I was somewhat renewed and slightly less stressed. And I said to myself, screw it, I’ll publish the book on KDP. So I had my final files ready. And I went, I uploaded them to KDP. And they got published. So the paperback book of The Trail to You and Me is out now. So if you want you can order the paperback book before its official release date on June 23rd. And it might even get here before June 23rd.
I also have a pre-order campaign going on for the book. So if you buy a paperback edition now before June 23rd know that you can still submit your receipt for the book in my pre-order form and get the free goodies that you get for pre-ordering the book even though it’s not technically a pre-order anymore. It’s just you buying the book, but the release date isn’t until June 23rd. So I figured I would allow it to count. And I couldn’t even feel like I was allowed to promote my pre-order campaign because I didn’t want people to pre-order the book when it was this fiasco of getting possibly the wrong edition of the book.
So yeah, go ahead and buy the paperback edition of the book right now and then fill out the pre-order form and you’ll be able to get cool stuff like a signed bookplate, a vinyl sticker, something else that I’m forgetting. But most importantly, you’ll be entered into a giveaway to get signed editions of Meet Me at the Summit and Let the Rubble Fall with the new covers. The only way to get the signed editions with the new covers right now is by entering this giveaway. So make sure you enter the giveaway by buying the book, filling out the form. Oy.
So like I said, I submitted the files on KDP, I hit publish. The book published in less than 24 hours, which meant that the pre-order link on Amazon turned into a Buy Now button. So for those of you who don’t know, the way it works is if you print your book through IngramSpark and KDP, if they have the same exact ISBN number, they kind of link up. So IngramSpark will fulfill any orders for expanded distribution, and then KDP will fulfill the orders for Amazon. So I wasn’t able to get rid of the pre-order button everywhere else. But at least on Amazon, which is the main place where people buy my book, I at least have the correct edition there. And I would always link people to buy or pre-order the book on Amazon. So I prevented myself from at least having future whoopsies of books being printed.
PROBLEM SOLVED (JUST THIS ONE TIME)
So June twelfth, I got another email from customer support. And at this point, it was clear that my contact at IngramSpark was working with the customer support directly to make sure that they were resolving my issue, which again, I am so thankful for, because I needed that help. But at the same time annoyed, because you guys would not get that same treatment and I got special treatment. But I have to mention it. But basically what they ended up doing was they went into my account and they manually made it so I could upload new files. And they also said once I uploaded new files that they were going to bypass the approval process, and allow me to instantly approve the files. Because the way it works is even after you upload your files to IngramSpark, it takes another two or three business days for IngramSpark to manually check your files and allow you to, you know, approve or decline the files. So they bypassed that which allowed me to log into my IngramSpark account, upload the new files. And then it was like an hour or two later that the files were approved. And I was very thankful for that. But they let me know, it was a one-time thing that they were doing for me and it was not going to happen again.
So at the end of the day, I ended up getting the final files uploaded and approved on June twelfth, which was a week later. So this entire fiasco took a week to play out. It was very stressful, it was not a fun time, but it was resolved. Now, they let me know that this does not guarantee that the correct files will be printed. And again, I had requested at one point for all the orders to be canceled, and they kind of just ignored that, which I figured would happen.
INCORRECT VS CORRECT BOOK COPY
But yeah, they let me know, “You know the files are uploaded, this doesn’t guarantee that the correct book files will be printed.” So I don’t know if the correct files will be printed. So if you guys order a copy of the book and it is not the correct copy—and there’s a very clear way to know it’s not the correct copy. If you didn’t get the correct edition, you’ll know because you’ll open the book, and it says sign up for my newsletter. But that’s it. It doesn’t give you a link to do that. And I believe it will also have a page that says Dedication. Yeah, it’ll also have a page that says dedication rather than an actual dedication. Chapter one will have this lovely chapter header, but then the rest of the chapters will not. The rest of the chapters will just be blank, and they won’t be formatted correctly.
So that is a foolproof way of knowing if you got the wrong edition of the book printed and if you did, and like June 23rd comes out, your copy ships out and you get a copy that does not have the final interior files, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Message me on Instagram, email me through my website. Let me know that you got an incorrect copy and I will personally ship you a copy. I will even sign it to be like, “Please forgive me. I’m so sorry this happened.” I will do my best just when you contact me. Send me a photo as proof that you got an incorrect copy.
WE MEAN IT WHEN WE SAY WE PRE-ORDER
But the story doesn’t end there. Because today, my friend Bethany—you guys may know her, she’s also here on YouTube. She had ordered a copy of my book and it came in the mail today, June 16th, which would be totally normal if she had ordered the book on June twelfth or later, after I had published it on Amazon because Amazon’s not doing a pre-order of the book anymore. It’s just as soon as you order it, it gets printed and shipped. But the thing is, she ordered a copy of her book on June fourth, which meant she pre-ordered it, which meant that it should be IngramSpark fulfilling the book order. But IngramSpark also shouldn’t be shipping the books until June 23rd. So I’m not sure what’s going on. Because it was clear on IngramSpark’s website that they print the books right away, but I don’t believe they should be shipping the books right away.
But either way, if this was IngramSpark, the good news is, is the files that she got was the final files. And she ordered it on June fourth, which was way before I was able to update the files on IngramSpark. But the weird part is, I personally can tell whether a book is printed by IngramSpark or KDP. The binding of IngramSpark and KDP is slightly different. Like on KDP, the crease on the front cover is a little more obvious. And then on IngramSpark, it’s a little more subtle, and the edges are like slightly more rounded and nice, whereas KDP is kind of square.
But the biggest tell-all in my opinion of whether something is printed by IngramSpark or KDP is the barcode. On the last page of the book, I found KDP. Their barcodes tend to be in the center of the book right here. And then above it, it says where it was printed, and when it was printed, whereas IngramSpark, last I checked—granted, this is a copy of IngramSpark from like two years ago so it could have changes—but IngramSpark is very different. They have the barcode in the bottom corner, and then off to the left has this thing that says, ICGtesting.com, printed in the USA. So I will say IngramSpark has changed their final page with the barcode quite often. But I’ve always found that IngramSpark books always say the ICGtesting.com, somewhere on this back page.
DOES INGRAMSPARK USE KDP TO FULFILL ITS ORDERS?
Now, you may be wondering why I’m mentioning all this. And I’m mentioning all this, because from what I can tell the copy of the book Bethany got was printed by KDP. But she ordered the book on June fourth, and I didn’t publish the book on KDP until June twelfth. So I don’t know what happened. But to me, it seems like it’s possible that KDP is fulfilling the IngramSpark orders. I don’t know if IngramSpark like, flagged my orders and said that they weren’t going to print it or maybe they already printed it, and then they destroyed it. And then they passed off the orders to KDP. I have no clue what happened. But I wanted to mention it, mostly because I’m confused.
But what I’m trying to say is there’s a possible happy ending to the story that the files actually got fixed, and everyone will receive the correct version of the book. I will say, even if you receive the incorrect version of the book, the story is fine. There are very few typos. There are typos, but there’s very few. Like, it’s not an embarrassing amount of typos. It’s just as someone who professionally formats books for clients. And a version of my book went out that had very quickly-done formatting. I’m embarrassed. So yeah.
WHO REALLY MESSED UP?
So to end this video, I want to answer the question of did IngramSpark mess up? Because, frankly, everything that happened was technically my own fault. I’m the one who wasn’t aware of the new rules. I’m the one who uploaded files of my book that weren’t finalized yet. Like, I’m the one who messed up. So you can blame me for all of this if you want. And at this point, I’m fine with that. I have definitely seen my punishment of the amount of stress over this situation. And if you want to blame me and you don’t want to blame IngramSpark, that’s totally fine.
Technically, IngramSpark didn’t do anything wrong. They do put on their website that you need to upload the final files of your book. Granted, you have to go searching for that information, but it is there. Everything that went wrong went exactly the way IngramSpark said things would work on their website. It’s not like their website still said “10 business days before release date.” Their website said, “Your book will be printed right away. Do not enable for distribution unless you have the book ready for printing.” The issue is they don’t make it clear how to do things correctly. And you have to go sifting through their Help website to find out how to do things. And even then, the language is not dumbed down. It’s very technical, and you kind of have to interpret it sometimes.
“EASY AND ACCESSIBLE”
And then if you want to have things explained to you, they don’t have like video tutorials or anything like that. You have to, you know, schedule a phone call and pay to have things explained to you, which is just not good in my opinion. And I think what makes me the most frustrated is the past—was it month or two, IngramSpark has made a huge deal that they eliminated their publishing fees to make publishing easier and more accessible. But the last way I would describe their publishing platform is easy and accessible. Nothing about publishing on IngramSpark is easy. Every single time I’ve published a book on there, something has gone wrong or there was some sort of oversight that I have.
I’ve published 13, I think it will be 14 by the end of this month books. 14 books at this point. And anytime I have an issue, it is always with IngramSpark, it’s related to IngramSpark. I have not had nearly this amount of stress with KDP. And I know people don’t love KDP support right now. That they don’t always have the best support. And I know that people talk all the time that their accounts are like suspended, or they’re locked out of their accounts for no reason, or whatever. And I’m aware that that’s an issue with KDP. Like every business has their issue. But I personally haven’t experienced that. And I personally have had amazing, wonderful experiences with their customer support, mostly because I can call them on the phone.
SHE DOESN’T WORK FOR CUSTOMER SUPPORT Y’ALL
And what irks me even more is that IngramSpark isn’t providing this customer support. So instead, people have actually started contacting me, like, on YouTube, on Instagram, because I make the IngramSpark tutorials, people email me asking for customer support help, and I do my best to help them. But at the end of the day, I don’t work there, I can only explain things to people. And I should not be standing in as customer support for a business that does not pay me. In fact, they give me headaches. I’ve had a lot of people ask me like, “Okay, but like, what if I upload the final files when I do my pre-order for IngramSpark?” If you want to do that, that’s totally fine.
I personally like—this is just me taking a stance at this point. I cannot support them as a business anymore. I’m glad I had this experience, so I can share it with you guys on YouTube. I would much rather I go through this nightmare than one of you guys go through this nightmare, because I was at least able to get the support and connections that I needed to (I think) solve the problem. But I cannot in good conscience recommend them anymore, and work with them anymore.
If you want to work with them. I that’s totally fine. Do your proper research. Definitely, you know, look at their website. Look up everything on their website before you start doing stuff. But my stance is just, it’s not worth the stress. And then people ask me, “Well, where do I do print book pre-orders?” Because frankly, when you do it with IngramSpark, Draft2Digital or Barnes & Noble press, I frankly think all of those options are not great options for print pre-orders at this time, because for all of them—not technically Barnes and Noble press—but it’s recommended that you have your final files ready when you start the pre-order process for your print book. So unless you have those final files ready, it’s not worth the stress. Or it’s not possible to do a print book pre-order.
So my recommendation to you is to just not do a print book pre-order. It’s just not worth it. And honestly, it doesn’t make that big of a difference anyways. Just do a newsletter signup instead have people sign up to your newsletter so they’ll be emailed and notified on release day when your book is available for order for print. I think that’s what I’m going to do from now on because I’ve just learned like when it comes to pre-orders and all that, sometimes it’s just too much stress and not worth the amount of sales and reward that you get out of it. Like there’s pros and cons to pre-orders, but I’ve definitely thought like, maybe for my next book,
I don’t do any pre-order, not even an ebook pre-order just to test out different marketing strategies. That’s a whole different conversation though. We’re not going to get into that today. I’ve been standing here for over an hour now.
Naturally as I was about to wrap up the video, the battery on my camera died. But anyways, that’s my experience with IngramSpark. I’m just happy to be done with it. I’m happy to share the experience with you guys. I hope you guys never go through what I just went through.
So if you work with IngramSpark, just proceed with caution, do lots of research and upload your final files. That that one I can confirm. Yeah, I’ve said it in in the past is that the best way to work with IngramSpark is to publish and finalize the book through KDP first, and then once you know it’s perfect on KDP, to then upload it to IngramSpark because KDP is way more forgiving. It’s faster in terms of printing approval, all of that. IngramSpark is just slower.
So yeah, anyways, I need to sit down I need to drink water. My voice hurts. Pre-order The Trail to You and Me please, because I can say that now. Order the book because this has been a stressful release.
I’m extremely grateful to Mandi Lynn for making her video and keeping it real for the rest of us authors who have yet to have a good experience with IngramSpark. Need a book coach to help you navigate options for your book so you can get it in the hands of readers? Read more about my services here and contact me if you’re ready to begin!