Blog ReviewsBlog, Reviews
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

IngramSpark-ing Creativity: Your View of Self-Publishing Is About to Be Changed


Independent authors have a vested interest in discovering the creative, marketing, or educational spark that allows their work to flourish. Authors of all kinds are driven not only by a creative impulse but also by an impulse to share their work. And of course, with all of that comes more practical business concerns: promotion, income, and distribution.

IngramSpark is a self-publishing platform. It's one of the big names in self-publishing alongside Smashwords, Lulu and of course, Amazon. Regardless of your perspective on these companies, the free blog which IngramSpark offers is a useful tool for developing your knowledge of self-publishing, and making the best of your creative endeavors. This blog provides helpful insight into the publishing world in both the traditional and self-publishing arenas, but will be most obviously helpful to those considering pursuing an independent course, or who have already published independently. Regardless of your scale or your particular desires for a piece of writing, the IngramSpark blog is worth a moment of your time.

Indie and self-pub articles

The IngramSpark blog focuses mostly on promotion of your writing, and on reaching more readers. This is clear in their blog structure and is important to their core audience: independent publishers and self-published authors. For these groups, there are articles on utilizing radio, soliciting reviews to promote on sites such as Goodreads, and a comprehensive guide to publishing digital content in the inter(net)-connected generation.

These articles are useful because they are sized to the content they are presenting: they don't waste time and head directly to the point, providing advice that is easily digested and immediately useful. Articles come from a range of authors: some of these pieces are from IngramSpark employees, but a large portion is from guest authors as well. When a guest author writes for the blog, their Twitter handles and other contact information are often included prominently in the article, so it becomes easy to network with the same authors who are providing this advice (and to check up on those authors' credentials and expertise). Direct access to authors and the ability to network with others in the industry is invaluable, especially to independent authors.

Resources that offer direct access to authors and the ability to network are invaluable.
Any resource that offers direct access to authors and the ability to network with others in the industry is invaluable, especially to independent authors. Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash.

Step-by-step guides

For those earlier in the creative process, the articles available at IngramSpark have foresight to offer. More than 100 articles site-wide deal with planning ahead, answering questions like: How do I plan my book's promotion? How do I create a press release? How do I write and distribute an advanced reader copy of the work? How do I solicit a foreword? What should my timeline be for publishing?

Answers to these questions are exceptional resources for authors, because they tell us which twists and turns to expect before we encounter the consequences of a lack of foresight. This kind of wisdom helps develop our authorial skills, as much as our writing skills. As such, it offers a kind of advice that is often overlooked in more traditional writing blogs.

The craft: All-star contributors

Of course, no publishing blog can stay entirely away from the craft of writing itself. Many of the articles offered at IngramSpark are designed to help you hone that most fundamental skill: writing. Standout articles in this vein include two articles by Grant Faulkner. For those who don't know, Faulkner is one of the brilliant voices/minds behind the smash success that is National Novel Writing Month. This is a man with particular insight into how and why people write – but more importantly – what it is that stops a writer from succeeding, or from finishing their work.

Another recurring contributor is Roz Morris. Morris has a great deal of insight into ghostwriting, having worked as a ghostwriter for several years before launching her own successful novels. Now she is a two-times published author, and a prominent name in writing advice: she is exactly the sort of person that an aspiring or struggling writer should look to for advice on how to move forward. Her articles on the site deal with topics such as: writing with confidence, constructing a solid plot, writing captivating characters; and my personal favorite, how editing can be a creative endeavor.

Finally, contributors like Alex Fullerton bring a particular brand of business acumen to the IngramSpark blog. Fullerton is a writing coach at Author Support Services. This means she has many years of coaching authors and helping them "Plan, Write, Design, Edit, [and] Print" their work. On offer from Fullerton via the IngramSpark blog are articles that offer advice on narrow specialties. She gives very specific advice on how to write children's books or cooking books; and she gives some insight into what to expect from a 1-on-1 book coach, which is of course her personal specialty. These very specific articles are great examinations of narrow fields within publishing, and because of this specificity, these articles have a lot to offer to those interested in those particular topics.

Author platform

Of the less prominent resources offered by the IngramSpark blog are articles devoted to creating your author platform. Increasingly, a freelance author's platform is the main face of their business. The days of representing your work in person have gone the way of the dinosaur, and it is now through digital representation that most authors drive their sales. There are a bit less than thirty posts on this topic on the blog, but I've found these to be some of the most helpful articles offered.

To start, your author website is the face of your platform as an independent publisher. An article by John Burke, a developer of webtools and self-publishing industry professional, gives the run-down of what readers, agents, and potential business partners want to see when they visit your site.

Next up, Jodee Blanco, two-times New York Times best-selling author, gives some advice about public speaking and speaking engagements for promoting your work. Her insight is valuable because her brand as a speaker and an author are equally strong. Blanco has the type of personality and success that others can learn from.

Other topics come from a variety of sources and help to flesh out the reader's authorial image. Some articles that stood out on first reading were each meant to contribute a portion of the author's overall presence in the writing world, for instance: helping your novel reach mainstream audiences; planning and attending author events; the importance of a professional author photo; and how to write an author bio.

Social media

Finally, and perhaps most obviously (given its importance in the contemporary publishing landscape), the IngramSpark blog offers a variety of content that centers on the effective use of social media to promote your work, whether that be as an independent author, or alongside a traditional publishing company.

Prominently, the IngramSpark blog encourages Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. These are often given for the author of each article, and a Twitter handle, at least, is always included for each contributor. This makes it easy to use the blog as a sort of networking tool, allowing readers to track down the source of articles which inspire them, or which they find most valuable. Further, the articles themselves have a lot to offer. Articles discuss advanced methods of marketing on social media, such as microtargeting; and help to answer common questions regarding publicity for your work. These articles are an effective source to broaden a reader's use of social media and to increase the effectiveness of their current usages.

Social media can broaden a writer's audience when used effectively
Social media can broaden a writer's audience when used effectively. Photo by Con Karampelas on Unsplash.

In addition to helping to explain and develop these core elements of social media use, several articles address more contemporary trends in digital advertising and product development. One article by Margot Atwell, the director of publishing at Kickstarter (yes, that Kickstarter), details the sort of projects that can achieve crowdfunding in the literary world. The article discusses how to establish a community, and how to target a particular audience in order to create something "magnificent." Similar articles discuss the marketing landscape on YouTube, how to create social media videos to support your product, how to leverage awards and endorsements, and how self-publishing can lead to increased access to the world of traditional publishing.

Tied with a ribbon

Obviously, the resources that the IngramSpark blog offer are excellent and reputable. The contributors to the blog are from prominent literary companies and technology companies, which offer services parallel or tangential to the publishing industry. This is not necessarily an endorsement of the IngramSpark services in the publishing arena, but it does reflect well on the company that they can boast such extensive contributions from employees with experience ranging from National Novel Writing Month and; to Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms; to New York Times best-selling authors.

Not only is the advice offered in the blog compact, and immediately useful, but it comes from reliable, and oftentimes, unique or rare sources. For those interested in IngramSpark, the company responsible for the blog offers services to assist authors at every step of the publishing process: from designing a cover to securing an ISBN number, to delivering the finished product via print-on-demand services.

Get in-depth guidance delivered right to your inbox.