Daily Archives: July 5, 2016

Is Your Time Valuable?

How Ingram Spark Fail My Test!

Time is valuable to me. And when something takes far more time than it should, I question the value that I’m getting for the time I am spending. Although I want to expand my distribution of Secrets I Learned From Ordinary House Cats, I made the decision NOT to place it on the Ingram Spark platform. Why? Because Ingram Spark Failed My Test!  I’m not here to slam Ingram Spark, just to give you my experience in setting up a book with them.

Secrets I Learned From Ordinary House Cats has been such a good seller on Amazon and Kindle, that for 2016 I decided I wanted to expand the contents slightly (add some graphics, photos, and bio’s for Ziggy and Zack); and create a new cover that would have the title on the spine. This meant I had to pump up from 88 pages to 102.

I use Book Cover Pro to create my covers now that I no longer use the Create Space Cover Templates. Secrets I Learned originally had a cover template from Create Space. In order to upload the book to Ingram Spark, I needed a new cover – or one that I designed myself so that I owned the cover.

With my crazy schedule of work, book marketing, creating art and just life overall, I took about a month to make the changes to the interior; and about another month to create the cover from scratch to look as close to the original cover as possible. This time also included turn around time with Create Space to view a printed copy of the book’s interior and the cover. I had to go back to the drawing board several times to get it just right. During this time I was having trouble with loosing the cover file, since I would save it to my Dropbox and my cover software then couldn’t recognize it so I had to create the cover over again. This user error happened a few times until I got wise to the user problem. Probably could have been avoided if I wasn’t doing this late at night.

So now I come to setting up the account at Ingram Spark. Not a great experience, too many screens, too many questions, and terminology that is a little different than we’re use to. Book royalty on one platform is called publisher compensation on Ingram Spark. I had to call on that one, to confirm royalty info. Seems simple enough right? Your 1099 that you receive for royalty income each January is just that: Royalty! And is stated so on your tax return. I didn’t even bother to ask Ingram Spark if publisher’s compensation is considered 1099 Royalty Income or something else.

Last week I logged onto my Ingram Spark account, now that all the publishing info was set up (that had taken me more than an hour to set up the account. Probably 2+ hours if you include the call I made to them for tech support). I’m ready with my documents… are you ready to see how many documents I needed:

Print Book Version:
*Word document (formatted and sized to meet the size of 5.06 x 7.81 – my choice of size back in 2013 when I first published the book).
*Converted Word document into PDF
*Cover document in Book Cover Pro so I can edit and re-generate if necessary.
*PDF of cover (this is the “generated” copy from Book Cover Pro (Note: with a new ISBN for this book at Ingram – couldn’t use the one from Create Space even though I own the ISBN and it’s for the same exact book).

EBook Version
*Same cover just front only and another ISBN
*Word Document (reformatted to adjust for ebook version which includes no extra spacing; no extra returns; no headers; no footers; no page numbers; etc., etc., etc.
*Word Document now converted to PDF.

Went to upload all this and learned that the ebook PDF has to be ePub 3.0 not PDF. Four hours have passed and I’m now saying, OK… lets resume tomorrow.

Next night I go in search of ePUB software that will convert my ebook and will meet the validation requirements according to IngramSpark or they will reject it. Ingram does not give any recommendations or direction on how to do this. A Google search resulted in 2up.ch/app, a foreign company and will convert my file for 65 Euros. ePubconversion.com email reply to me was:  To convert the book file to Kindle (Mobi) OR ePUB file format, it will cost you $99. If you want the file in Kindle and ePUB (Same file for Barnes & Noble eBook Reader, Apple iPad ) it will cost $153 (value $198). Above price includes one free ISBN number (value $125) for ePUB file format along with the ePUB conversion. Kindle does not need ISBN number. Cost remains same if you don’t want ISBN.

Then I found ePubconverter.com and was able to load a file for 30 days and try it to see if I like it. When I finally had a file that worked (it failed 4 times), I then ran it through validator.idpf.org per Ingram Spark only to receive 9 pages of errors. Nine Pages!!!!!!! ‘Error while parsing file “value of attribute “id” is invalid; must be an XML name without colons’. God Bless you if you understand that error message. By the way, there are NO colons in the document – anywhere. FYI, this software is $36.99 just in case you want to buy it after the 30 days. It did convert my file but not to ePub 3.0, the validator said it was ePub 2.0.

Now I return to Ingram Spark today and decide, “OK, no ebook just print with them.” So I proceed with the process of print only and now Ingram Spark will need to validate my Print version. Poof! Only 3 Errors… but one is fatal for me. “Font’s not embedded in the PDF. LSI requires that all fonts be embedded. Submit a new file with all fonts embedded.”

HTF do you embed a font? I’m pretty technical, but not on 9 pages of error messages and embedding fonts. This is coding that goes way beyond me. What happened to “life needs to be simple” or “simpler” and computers were suppose to make us paperless. My desk is covered in papers because of the notes, files and formats that I’ll need to remember tomorrow or next week when I have time again to work on this.

So… The straw that broke my camel’s back was the 9 pages of errors messages and the embedded font requirement. I’ve taken this experiment as far as I’m going to go. I give Ingram Spark an “F” – “FAILED at My Test.” If you have better luck than me I applaud you a thousand times over. But I’ve reached the end of the road on Ingram Spark and any possible recommendations of them to consider.

My last piece with them was a phone call to delete all files so I could use the 2 ISBNs that I assigned to Ingram Spark. Now that was the easy part!


Rosemary Augustine, Author and Publisher

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