‘The end’ you write, thus concluding your first ever novel in the classiest way possible. It’s a thing of beauty, and like a parent with a wallet full of baby photos you’re keen to show the world.

Self-publishing is the most efficient and effective way to get your book in front of potential readers. No dealing with agents, no begging for the attention of publishing houses, no watching your manuscript collect dust on your desk; it’s instant publication gratification.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark are arguably the two biggest players in the self-publishing industry. Each service brings its own set of pros and cons, and choosing either, neither or both will depend on what you want your book to look like and what you hope it to achieve.

But which is worthy of your affection? To find out, let’s take a closer look.

The perks of Amazon KDP

You may have heard of CreateSpace, Amazon’s original self-publishing solution. In 2018 this tool was integrated with another service, Amazon KDP.

Taking a leaf out of the Microsoft and Google playbook, Amazon is able to offer up an incredible amount of free self-publishing services, effectively neutering much of its competition. KDP also grants authors access to Amazon’s enviable customer base and ecommerce capabilities.

The more specific perks of self-publishing through Amazon KDP include:

An end to end service

If you’re looking to publish an ebook, which most first-time authors inevitably are, the process couldn’t be simpler. You upload your book, you tell Amazon how you’d like to sell it, and they take care of the rest. In effect this is a manuscript in, money out system.

Special treatment on Amazon services

Using Amazon KDP means that you’re restricted to the (admittedly sprawling) Amazon network. But as a benevolent god Amazon will reward you for your loyalty, with programs like KDP Select, Kindle MatchBook and Kindle Book Lending allowing you to offer a better sales pitch to your readers, thus increasing your chances of success.

Loads of free stuff

Show me a person who isn’t keen on free stuff and I’ll show you a liar. The Amazon KDP freebies come thick and fast, including:

  • Zero upfront cost to publish and sell your book through Amazon channels (they take a 30% cut of sales.)
  • A free Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) is attributed to every book published through KDP – this acts as the company’s equivalent of an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). It should be noted that if you want to publish outside of the Amazon network you’ll need to purchase an ISBN.
  • Free access to the Kindle Create formatting tool.

The perks of IngramSpark

While it doesn’t boast the omnipotence of Amazon, IngramSpark has carved out an impressive self-publishing niche.

While it could be seen as a case of befriending the school bully so he doesn’t take your lunch money, IngramSpark doesn’t see itself as a competitor to Amazon. It proclaims on its website that it has a great relationship with the tech giant, and it’s true that the IS offering is different enough from KDP to represent a distinct service.

How different? Here are a few examples:

An awesome distribution network

Perhaps the major selling point, particularly for those who prefer to publish their book in its physical form, is the IngramSpark distribution network. They are developing into the world’s premier retail book distribution group, acting as middleman between you and the bookstore. Strong, long-term relationships mean that IngramSpark can offer reach and profitability for your physical copies that the KDP Expanded Distribution system just can’t match.

Get your ebook everywhere

Where Amazon KDP straps you (willingly) into the Amazon straitjacket, IngramSpark will ensure that your ebook gets everywhere. Not just to Kindle, but to Nook, Kobo and other ebook platforms too. If you want your book to be available on as many eReaders as possible, IngramSpark is the best choice.

Hardcover and saddle stitched editions

The strength of IngramSpark’s physical publishing offering is highlighted by the fact that you can print super fancy hardcover and saddle stitched editions of your book. I’m told they smell that much better too.

Amazon KDP or IngramSpark?

At the risk of being labelled a fence-sitter: Yes.

There are two reasons why IngramSpark might be preferred: greater control over your book, and a better physical publishing proposition. If you want to see a hardcover copy of your book sitting in your local bookstore, this is the service for you. Be aware that little more work will be required to make your dream a reality though.

Amazon KDP sees you trade choice and control for simplicity. The service makes self-publishing an ebook an absolute breeze and demands an investment of exactly $0 from new authors. It also demands blind loyalty, however.

Should you do both? You sure can, particularly if you hope to sell your tome in both physical and ebook form! KDP is great for ebooks, offering the best exposure and earning the most money, while on the physical copy side of things, bookstores and libraries prefer to work with IngramSpark.

While you might’ve typed ‘the end’ on your manuscript, the truth is that writing your novel is but step one on the long walk to self-published nirvana. Whether you take the short and easy (but somewhat narrow) Amazon route, or a more scenic stroll on the IngramSpark trail, is entirely up to you.

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