IngramSpark/CreateSpace Comparison

I spent a little time last night thinking over the CS (CreateSpace) vs. IS (IngramSpark) issue. Yesterday’s post was, if not vague, rushed. This comparison is for a 240 pg 5.5 X 8.5 perfect bound paperback on creme paper. All text, no illustrations.

When it comes to the upload process, CS edges out IS. Ingram has some extra steps and confusing wording in places, and finding answers can be a chore. In my experience, file approvals occur quicker through CS.

CS is free to upload, as often as you need or want. IS charges $49 per title, with $25 for revisions. They do offer discounts or free uploads, with use of a promo code. You have to hunt around and occasionally lurk in writer forums to discover them.

Cover templates. I haven’t used CS’s cover wizard, preferring to use the one piece template. It’s easy. Go to the website, feed in your info, and download. IS…enter your info (more than you need to for CS) and they’ll e-mail you. Oh joy, yet another extra step. Let me log-in, open up that e-mail, and download. CS provides a PNG file that opens in RGB. IS provides a PDF that opens in CMYK, has extra information that cannot be deleted, and is a bitch to work on if you use a laptop. Which I do. I spend more goddamn time zooming and reducing to make an IS cover. CS wins this round.

Cover upload. CS accepts RGB files and converts to CMYK, often with good results. They accept regular PDF, PDF/X-1a, and PDF/X-3a generated by either Adobe or Serif (Affinity Photo). IS might accept those formats. I bought Affinity Photo to avoid the subscription for Photoshop and used it in a test case with CS. The cover turned out great. I didn’t want to risk it with IS though; they’re so specific about those Adobe created files, so I had to get Photoshop, which is fine, I was familiar with Photoshop Elements, so there was less of a learning curve.

Proof orders. This one is a little difficult to judge because of errors made on my part. Then again, if IS had clearer instructions, worded so a normal human wouldn’t have to twist their brain into a pretzel to understand (I exaggerate, but you get my drift), I wouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place. I think IS took a little longer, but the weekend factored into it. However, don’t send an e-mail on Sunday saying the order shipped when it didn’t until the end of the following day, Monday. In IS’s favor, though, they provide tracking information (I opted for 2 day delivery), something CS doesn’t do. Packaging is similar. I’ll call this a draw.

Proofs. I’ve read a lot about IS being the superior product. In fairness, I may have sent CS a file with a different color profile, US web coated swop v2 (300% TAC) versus IS’s mandatory 240% TAC. The color on the CS book is a little deeper, a little bluer. The IS version has a bit more gray, so it’s duller. It’s a noticeable difference when laying one book partially atop another, but standing on a bookshelf, comparing the spines, it’s negligible. And speaking of spines…

The IS book’s spine is narrower, due to the thinner paper stock. I was surprised. I’ve also read that the interior text is much darker, hence, it looks so much better. True, the text is darker, but to my eyes, it looks very much like printing out a sheet of paper on your laser printer. The paper isn’t very creamy either. I’m not saying I want a yellowed ivory type of creme, but IS leans more toward gray-white. Of course, this could change, depending on supplier, stock, etc. For some odd reason, the outer margins of the interior in the IS copy looked too wide. I compared to the CS copy and measured; it’s a bizarre optical illusion.

I conducted a spur-of-the-moment stability test. I held each book in my hand by the bottom right corner and snapped my wrist back and forth several times. The IS copy made a noticeable sound and moved rather freely — in other words, it was a bit flimsy and felt cheap. The CS book had a quieter and deeper sound, when detectable. The CS book is weightier and feels more substantial in the hand. It feels like CS uses a heavier cover stock paper as well; perhaps that’s why they can accommodate 300% ink coverage?

I can’t comment on IS’s hard cover book quality. That’s down the road for me, when I publish my novel(s).

At the moment, when it comes to paperbacks, I prefer CreateSpace’s upload process and end product. I do not, however, care for their expanded distribution. It’s lousy, quite frankly, and that’s why I started with IngramSpark. I’ll have to make adjustments, of course, for each platform. It’s definitely been a learning experience.

Proofs have arrived

My IngramSpark proofs have arrived for the first two DS Guide reissues. They’re……okay. Part of it is my fault. Jewel tones look  great in RGB color for e-books, but print requires CMYK, and CMYK is a cruel bitch. Add IngramSpark’s 240% total ink coverage specs and the bitch gets even more cruel. The red of volume 2 ended up being more maroon. It’s not wholly unexpected, when I was using Lulu it ended up pretty much the same. I’m kind of past caring. And I forgot to mention, I had the wrong font size on the back of volume 1 and had to fix and re-upload. Thankfully, IngramSpark is waiving fees for resubmitted files for the next two months. The crazy thing is, I’m killing myself trying to make things right for a very, very, niche audience when I could be working on this: Continue reading

First published work

“You’re talking as if you’re Methuselah, falsely presenting yourself as an ancient and decrepit nag. It’s true, you’re no dewy-eyed colt, but you know, as well as I, that there’s many a woman who prefer to mount a seasoned, proven stallion when overcome with the urge to go riding.”

I thought I’d write a post about the first thing I ever published. It was a play, The Lovers’ Ruse, a bedroom farce, or what I suppose would be considered a romantic-comedy in today’s terms. Due to life getting in the way and several hiatuses from writing altogether, it took eight years for me to complete and publish it in 2015.

Between 2005 and 2007, I had a good run at writing. I couldn’t stop. But I was starting to burn out, especially on prose. As an exercise, I thought I’d try writing dialogue only, and how better to do it than as a play? I was influenced at the time by several opera buffa, the plays that inspired them, and the works of Molière. Specifically, The Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais (opera by Rossini), Il Matrimonio Segreto, an opera by Italian composer Cimarosa (a vast improvement over the English source material, The Clandestine Marriage), and Molière’s The School for Husbands, along with other various French plays of the 18th century.

The Lovers’ Ruse is a basic set-up with stock characters. Young lovers facing obstacles, a scheming servant, a well-meaning but old-fashioned parent, a helpful acquaintance, etc. Initially, the dialogue was very stiff, very formal, and very stylized. I realized I had to loosen it up some to make it more accessible. It was the right choice. It’s still stylized, but not nearly as much. Rhythm is also incredibly important and overall, it flows quite well. There’s also a great deal of wordplay, the piece wouldn’t work without it. At times, I don’t even know where some of that repartee came from. I credit that to those carefree and sometimes elusive muses.

A curious thing happened while writing that had a positive impact. I had a character that was mentioned a few times early in the play. He doesn’t make an appearance until the end. It occurred to me; why not have every character talk about him at some point, but each with a different perspective? He’s obnoxious, he’s a rogue, he’s witty, he’s industrious, and so forth. When he finally appears, the audience (or reader) can decide the kind of man he is for themselves. Is he some, none, or all of the things he’s purported to be? What made that decision even better, was it allowed me to get out of a bit of a bind in a particular scene.

What makes The Lovers’ Ruse so different is that it’s so unlike what I usually write. I tend to skew toward darker, psychological character studies or horror, suspense, occult. It’s like coming across a moon garden of white blooms at midnight; light, charming, and wholly unexpected.


Slowly getting things done

I finally finished the changes to the volume 3 manuscript. Then I had to do the e-book version. I don’t know about others, but I prefer to write in my set-up for print books, with all my painstakingly created formatting. When I first started, I had mountains of mistakes when it came to formatting a document. After a lot of trial and error, I have my preferred templates, depending on what I’m working on. The episode guides have their own, novels another. E-books have a designated template, too. For those, I do some copy-and-paste sleight of hand from my print document.

I can’t stress enough how formatting will make your life simpler. Invest the time to play around with styles & formatting. Find what you like, then make your templates. I have a style for damn near everything. For example, the signature in a letter.

Formatting pic

With the formatting marks option toggled on, notice how there are no arrows to indicate tabs in the closing and signature? That’s because I formatted a special style with a very generous before text indent. When creating a heading style for your chapter title, add the appropriate amount of space in the above paragraph option in the indents and spacing section. I work in LibreOffice because the less said about Word the better, especially as a Mac user. But I digress…in fact, I’ve gone way off track.

DS Guide volume 3. The hard part is done. I need to make a print copy cover and get a proof from CreateSpace. Unfortunately, there are no coupons available at the moment for IngramSpark to discount or waive the upload fee. And that’s a bummer. Especially since I’ll need to buy more ISBNs as well. I’m aiming to have all the previous books reissued by early July. Then maybe, maybe, I can finally get back to work on my novel. That said, I do believe I’m one of the very few who gets away with making Leland Devore wait.


What do we have here…?

Well, look at that. Order acknowledgements from IngramSpark in my mail box first thing this morning. How do you suppose that happened?

Reminder: waive the “hold until on sale date” option when ordering books for yourself at IS. I was comfortable changing the on sale date because these are re-issues of old books.

Oh, IngramSpark, you scamps

Let’s face it. IngramSpark does intentionally keep things a tad murky. Although my uploads went off swimmingly and the e-proofs (which must be approved to enable ordering of physical copies – what?) looked fine, I made an error nonetheless. Learn from my mistake.

When you finally get around to the ordering process (I wanted a single proof of two different titles) there’s a strangely worded little option about holding until the sale date (or something along those lines). This is important now — WAIVE IT! I couldn’t figure out why my order was just sort of languishing in Pending mode, even though I chose to pay a little more to expedite the print job and shipping. After digging around on the not-so-user-friendly help section, I finally found the answer, which was that the publisher has the option to waive. Thanks for being clear as mud. And guess what, there’s no way to edit your order. Instead, I edited the On Sale date, bumping it up about a week to next Tuesday. We’ll see what happens.

I’m passing this along because I find so little info out there about navigating the IngramSpark maze. Live and learn, right?




The careful approach paid off

Another quick update. The file uploads to Ingrams were good. Ordering proofs is a bit of a different animal from CreateSpace however. You have to approve a digital proof before an order will be processed. That’s kind of weird. Anyway, the digital proofs looked great and I’m awaiting the physical copies so I can issue a final approval and get them out there. Two (almost) down, four to go. Now that I know the process it’ll be much simpler going forward.

The self-publishing merry-go-round

Quickly checking in since I’ve been lax in posting. Truth is, I’ve been busy trying to get the episode guides reissued. It’s a process, and today I’m feeling a bit burned out by it all. But there is good news. The first two books (e-books) have been re-released. Volume 1 print edition has also been released…to one channel at least. It’s available on Amazon and is working through the IngramSpark machine as we speak. I’m keeping a positive thought that there won’t be any issues with Ingrams. Fingers crossed.

I avoided IngramSpark, as I did CreateSpace, in part because of complaints that the process was complicated, vague, and lacking in straightforward instructions. True, CS had/has very outdated info and I think Ingrams does it on purpose to weed out the not-so-serious, only looking to make a fast buck type of self-publishing authors. I can say that although it’s a different animal, setting up a title on IngramSpark isn’t that bad or difficult. I’ll pass along this advice; take your time. Don’t rush. Read and watch tutorials on the web. There are a lot of folks who post a video or blog entry that can be incredibly helpful. If, like me, you’re delving into CMYK covers, practice, practice, practice.

Speaking of which, the new print edition has more of a smoky slate blue compared to the jewel tone sapphire of the e-book. I like it. I finessed the interior file as well and I’m pleased with the outcome overall.

One down, far too many to go

Finally released the revised Vol 1 e-book. We’ll see if Apple rejects it because I don’t consider the episode range as a subtitle. They do, apparently, which is a pain, and necessitates making changes to either the cover or the metadata. As far as the print version, I need to do some behind-the-scenes things with CreateSpace before release, but I’m not stressing myself over this. Slow and steady, a bit at a time. Thinking or worrying about too many things at once just bogs you down.

The read through of Vol 2 is going well. Not too many changes (it’s those damn commas, they get me every time). I think I made more important ones (fixing typos, mainly) prior to the KDP and CS uploads. I’m aiming to have the Vol 2 e-book out by the end of the month. With any luck, I’ll have the new print editions for both 1 and 2 out by then as well. Fingers crossed.



I’ve thought it over. For the time being, I’m only going to focus on transcribing my existing notes and addressing the Lulu/Nook issue. Any work to the novel will be a bonus, should it happen. Then, it’s on to the next hurdle.