Publishing Paperbacks: CreateSpace And Ingram Spark

If you are publishing your book yourself in print format, you’ll need to decide what publishing company to use.

This article by Karen Myers on the Alliance of Independent Authors website explains why some authors use two companies–CreateSpace for books sold on Amazon and Ingram Spark for other distribution outlets, such as Barnes and Noble.

Right now, paperback editions of my Awakening supernatural thriller series are published only through CreateSpace, but I’m thinking of adding Ingram Spark, as it appears from Myers’ article that bookstores will be more likely to carry the books. Note that you need to use your own ISBN (the number that identifies your book) with Ingram Spark, so you will spend a little more.

Until Sunday, when I’ll share some tips on book fairs.


L.M. Lilly

Paperback Writer: The Downsides Of Print On Demand Publishing

Most authors I’m familiar with who publish their own work do so via print-on-demand platforms such as CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing, which I wrote about in Using KDP To Self Publish A Paperback.

If you choose to publish a paperback that way, the biggest plus is that you don’t need to pay for a large quantity of books and hope to sell them later, or to pay for any books in advance at all. Each book is printed when it’s ordered. The author is paid a royalty based on the purchase price.

Book 1 in The Awakening Series

But there are some downsides for the author, ones I wasn’t aware of when I started out with my Awakening series.

First, the cost to produce each book is generally higher, which means the author either earns a fairly low royalty or prices the book higher than most traditionally-published books.

Because I prefer to keep my prices in a range that’s similar to traditionally-published books, on trade paperback sales outside of Amazon, I typically make less than $.25 per book. (Sold through Amazon or in person, I earn a few dollars per book.)

Second, bookstores usually won’t carry print-on-demand (POD) books. The main reason is that the books typically aren’t returnable. If the bookstore orders five of them and only one sells, the store can’t send the other four back.

Another reason I heard from one bookstore owner is that Amazon is the competition and the stores don’t want to promote Amazon products. Because many authors use Amazon platforms CreateSpace and KDP for POD books, that rules them out. (If you want to try a different company, check out Ingram Spark.)

For similar reasons, some bookstores won’t carry a book that refers to Amazon anywhere on its cover, back blurb, or inside. I had no idea about that when I published Book 1 in my Awakening Series, though I probably ought to have figured as much. By the time I published the paperback, the Kindle edition had spent many weeks in the Top 50 of Amazon’s occult bestseller list (the highest rank was No. 1) and its horror list. I was excited about that, so I thought listing Amazon Best Seller on the cover was a great idea.

When I reissue the book with the updated cover (shown above), I’ll leave that off. It’s a bit of a tough call, though. When I sell at in-person events, that Best Seller reference tips some buyers over the edge to purchasing.

Finally, there are distribution outlets, such as libraries, that are unlikely to purchase books from CreateSpace.

Because for now I believe my time and effort are better spent focusing on ebook and audiobook sales rather than print despite the above downsides, I plan to continue using CreateSpace and KDP. If I explore other options later, though, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Until Friday–


L.M. Lilly