Saturday, September 1, 2018

Guest Post featuring Shawn Robinson: An Overview of Self-Publishing, Part 3

Note from the RW Team: To give our writers a small hiatus, we are welcoming author Shawn Robinson to do a 5 part series on self-publishing over the months of August and September. We hope that this will prove very useful, especially to the teen/indie authors in our audience.  
 Next week will bring our quarterly Book Scout Bulletin, featuring several awesome YA books. In the meantime, please give Shawn a warm welcome! 

In the third part of our blog, we want to explore two of the biggest Self-Publishing services out there: Amazon and Ingram. Amazon is the obvious one for many people and often well used by authors. Ingram, however, is an absolutely massive distributor, but many Self-Publishers do not end up taking advantage of their services (or even know about them).

Today, we'll try to take a brief look at each of them.

Understanding Amazon

All right, one of the big things you need to understand is the Amazon online bookstore. Amazon is a HUGE entity that spans the globe. If you put your book up for sale on Amazon, your book will be available for sale through Amazon sites around the world in a matter of days.

Amazon doesn't charge anything for putting your book up for sale. They offer services for making up a cover or formatting your book for printing, but they are not required costs. You can actually do all the work yourself and save the money. The only time you have to pay is when you sell a book and they take the fee off the cover price of the book.

Amazon has two companies they use to get your book out there to the unsuspecting public: Createspace and KDP.

Createspace is a fairly simple site to use. Through Createspace you can put your printed book up online for people to buy. You submit a PDF of your interior file and a PDF of your cover, set your prices, set where you want to sell the book and away you go! 

A typical 200 page book will cost you around $2.50 to print, another $4.50 in charges and then the rest should be yours. So if you sell your book for $10, you'll make around $3/book. Those costs/royalties are estimates. In the end, it'll likely end up costing you a bit more than you expect and you'll make a bit less than you expect. :)

Createspace only does print books (POD). Once you set up your book, it takes a few days to get going and then you're all set. You can also order proof copies for yourself (that's a copy for you to do some editing and checking over of your book--it's not-for-sale) and you can buy multiple copies for yourself for only the cost of printing and shipping. That means you should be able to get some copies in your hands for somewhere around $4-$6/each for selling to family and friends! 

KDP is the other company Amazon uses and they have, in the past, focused on ebooks. They are easy to use (nicer interface than Createspace) and your book will upload and update very quickly.

KDP also produces paperbacks (POD), but there are a couple limitations. First, you can't order wholesale copies for yourself. That's not a huge problem since you can use Ingram (see below), but it's annoying as Ingram is more expensive to print than KDP and Createspace.

The other problem is that KDP only provides books to the US, European and Japanese regions. That might sound like it covers a lot of ground, but you'll notice big English reading markets (Canada, India, etc) are missing. 

This is a big problem for me, personally, as a Canadian author. Most of my readers are in Canada and it took me a while to figure out that my book wasn't for sale in Canada... it just looked like it was. :( They put it up for sale, but listed it as unavailable, telling customers it would ship in 1-2 months (but it never would since KDP Print doesn't ship to Canada). It's not until I started to dig that I found out it's because KDP doesn't work with Canada.

For me, I use Createspace for printing and KDP for Kindle (ebook). Both KDP and Createspace have reporting sections to let you know how many sales you've had. They are both easy to read and update relatively quickly!

Overall, Createspace and KDP are amazing to work with. No complaints as to their customer service.

Understanding Ingram

Ingram is huge. Ingram is massive. Ingram is also invisible. 

Well... not invisible, but I would venture a guess that few first-time authors will have heard of Ingram. Let me give you an example to let you know how big Ingram is. Take a look at a bookshelf full of different books at your library or in your house or at a store. Chances are about 70% of those books were printed by Ingram. 

Ingram is a printer. That means that you can do POD through their IngramSpark division. Their print costs are a little higher than Createspace/KDP, but some people feel their quality is better. I have found their shipping sometimes to be cheaper so you might find wholesale copies are cheaper through Ingram than Createspace.

Ingram is also a distributor. That means that they distribute your books around the world. If you put your book for sale on Ingram and let them distribute it, they will get it out there to everywhere from Books-A-Million to Book Depository to Foyles to Chapters to just about everywhere else! If you put your book on Amazon and also set your book up with Ingram, you pretty much have covered the entire online world and made your book available to just about every bookstore on the planet. Ingram is also great to work with as their customer service is incredible!

Now, here's the catch with Ingram...

Ingram has fees for setting up a book ($50) and for updating book information ($12). I'm sure you don't want to pay that, so here's what you do:
Google "Ingram coupon codes" I have about 8 or 9 titles on Ingram and I have not paid one single fee for setting up a book or updating a book's information because I have found coupon codes every single time. Look for coupon codes. :)

In Conclusion...

So, there you have it: a quick overview of Amazon and Ingram. They are both great to work with and they are both the way to go for the Self-Publisher!

Meet the Orator:
Bio and author picture are sourced from Author website ( Used with Permission.

I’m a writer, a husband, a father, a Christian, a hiker (or at least I was till some recent health problems), a lover of coffee, a biker (not the cool kind, but the kind that rides around on an old motorcycle and has a blast) and someone who enjoys watching movies with my sons and playing cards with my wife.

I have written (so far) four books. One is a book of short stories, the other three are a series (Arestana series). They are geared to younger readers and I have a blast writing them! You can check out my books here:


  1. Wow! I've never even heard of Ingram before. (Or about the pricing with any of these services, tbh.) Thank you!!!

  2. I’ve never heard of Ingram before (probably not surprising) so this post was massively helpful! Thanks!

  3. I'm so glad this was helpful! Ingram is such a huge part of the publishing business, but you're right, no one has heard of them. :) I'm amazed at how helpful they are, how good their customer service is and the quality of their printing. They are definitely the way to go!

  4. Great post, Shawn! I've never heard of Ingram either (I thought it was a typo for Instagram at first, LOL)- thank you for sharing! :D