Print on Demand for Self-Publishing

IMG_6391 copy

Those in the know (which I am not) call Print on Demand POD so, from now on, I shall be using this acronym. I’ve created a little video for you to actually see the print quality differences as I found it irritating I couldn’t see proper comparisons when doing my research (it also means you don’t have to read below – YOU’RE WELCOME):

I obviously made mistakes, because that’s what I do. I rush ahead and don’t read up on anything until I’ve realised I’ve made a huge error. It’s all for your benefit though, now you won’t mess up like I have.

Having a print version of your book is really nice but if you’re in the UK you need to be aware of a few things because I had some issues.

  1. I didn’t do this and wish I had – buy your ISBN from Nielsen’s (Bowker in US) before you start. This will cost £149 – (gulp) for 10, which I thought was a good idea as I need one for my paperback, one for my hardback and possibly for future publications. It takes 10 days for these to come through (although mine took less than a week).
  2. Createspace is great because it’s super easy to use but do not use the extended distribution channels. Just use it for selling on Amazon and assign your Nielsen’s ISBN to the book. If you use Createspace’s ISBN it will be recognised by bookshops as an Amazon affiliate and booksellers loathe Amazon. Also, Createspace is printed in the US so shipping is EXPENSIVE and takes forever. I recommend starting with Createspace so you can get used to formatting as it’s far more user friendly and the forums are very helpful. Also, you can experience a bit of trial and error and really get to grips with formatting before embarking upon your Ingram Spark journey. You don’t have to use them as Ingram Spark do allow Amazon distribution but I’ve heard that it’s a pain as it constantly lists your book as out of stock.
  3. If you want your book in actual bookshops you need to use Ingram Spark (quick note, Ingram Spark is a sister company of Lightening Source you can use either but IS is set up for self-publishing, so I chose to use it). IS distributes to Gardners which supplies major and small book shops in the UK. It is VITAL that you have your book with Gardners and other distribution channels if you want it to be sold in a physical bookshop. IS print in the UK, which makes a massive difference in lead time and shipping costs.

I did look into Blurb but I couldn’t get my head round it and I find the printing process irritating enough without design lingo getting me confused. I hear that it’s best for pictures and images anyway.

How much do you make off each POD book?

Well, this is what I make…

Createspace: £8.99 I make £1.83 (originally priced at £7.99 but had to increase to match IS)

Ingram Spark Paperback: £8.99 I make £0.92 (I had to price it higher on IS so that I could offer 40% to book shops, any lower and I wouldn’t have made any profit, any higher and I didn’t think anyone would buy my book.)

Ingram Spark Hardback: £18.99 I make £2.11 (bookshops get 40% discount. I know, I’m well greedy with the hardback but I’ll sell fewer so I’m unapologetic.)

And, just for reference, on Kindle I sell my book for £2.99 and make £1.72 – so yeah, it makes me a similar margin and gives me the least amount of headache but nothing beats having books in print so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

More info on Ingram Spark:

As IS is part of LS the print quality is amaze – the ink just looks better – and they offer a huge variety of sizes in paperback and hardback. One fallback is that you have to pay to join up (it’s £29 but this fee is reimbursed if you sell 50 copies within 60 days) and for every subsequent re-edit of your book it costs £18, which is why you really need to check it through before printing. That being said, no matter how well you prepare, you can’t know how something will turn out until you get the proof back.

IS is still quite a new system and a lot of people have had issues with functionality. However, I seem to have come across it at a good time as it was very user-friendly seeing as they’ve JUST upgraded the system. Signing up was easy and the instructions were fairly comprehensive for the formatting (although I let my designer deal with the cover info). The only thing I felt it lacking was the ‘book’ layout that CreateSpace offers, so that you know for definite your margins are in the right ruddy place and you’ve calculated correctly that the first page will start on the right. You do get a preview but it’s a pdf, which doesn’t really help all that much. However, I can tell you that the first page in the pdf you create will be the RIGHT HAND PAGE, just like with Createspace etc.

To distribute with IS (and it was a pain to get a definitive answer on this) you have to email Nielsen’s ( and tell them that Ingram Spark is the representative for your book(s). It takes 15 days for the distribution channels to be set-up.

In summary:

If you live in the UK I’d recommend signing up to Createspace for Amazon distribution only and assign a Nielsen ISBN and use Ingram Spark for full distribution of paperback and hardback copies.

3 thoughts on “Print on Demand for Self-Publishing

  1. Thanks–very helpful. Independent booksellers here in the USA will not touch you if you use CreateSpace or Amazon. They will not host an author event if you smell slightly of being close to Amazon in any way. I found that helpful when choosing a publisher. Just for your information…
    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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