I don’t like to blog about incompetence, but I think in this case I must make an exception.
My latest experience with Ingram Spark has left a bad taste in my mouth about relying on self-styled professional printing and distribution, especially from a service which touts about its global reach. I would have done better if I had simply gone up to the local FedEx Office and printed the damn things myself, then sold them direct from my site to anyone who wants them. But I wanted the distribution, which I cannot manage on my own. When I was working with Lightning Source alone I had access to global distribution. Now, I have discovered that Ingram Spark set my distribution to just the U.S., with the failure to notify me or indicate on the help module that I must set distribution myself for several different channels, and whether to destroy or not. With the ebooks, I had to indicate separate pricing for other channels and Apple. I did not see the difference since I was charging the same price. Even numbered pricing was not possible, apparently. So I set the prices according to page count rounded up to .99. Then I had to indicate what prices should be set for each currency involved.
In 2014, Ingram Spark started sending me compensation reports by separate sources, so in other words a report for Barnes & Noble and a report for Apple, as well as other reports. I don’t see why they could not just lump them all together on one report. It did not seem logical to me, because all of it was going to go on one sales account record anyway. But that was not what got to me.
What got to me was the idea that I had absolutely no control over what was going on with my books, and day before yesterday I received an invoice for a group catalog fee which I should have received back in November. Now, today Ingram Spark told me by email that they were adjusting the invoice to March 31, and I would be charged for it accordingly. Also, emails to them to cancel a title I have already set to “out of print” at Bowker went ignored. The title was still on sale today. I got on the phone to talk to support and was left on hold for almost an hour before I gave up and emailed them that I was thoroughly angry at their incompetence and if I did not receive satisfaction for my frustrated efforts, I would sue. It was not just the frustration, it was the thorough disappointment that a publication service which I had come to rely on did not perform as promised. I was patient for over six months, as the weather prevented any kind of normal operations, but now it is April and by now they should have returned to some kind of regular schedule. Then I reasoned that I was left on hold so long because they were understaffed or there were other angry publishers giving them grief. If that is the case, then perhaps I should be looking at other options.
Since my books were not being distributed as I expected, I had already lost thousands of dollars making them attractive to readers without knowing that a significant sector of the marketplace did not even know they were there. This is another facet of service incompetence which makes me angry. It was bad before, with Lulu and CreateSpace, but this is even worse. Since I discovered this lack of attention to detail I have tried to correct the problem myself. But it’s like fighting with one hand tied behind my back.
I am also trying to redesign covers for my back list, while trying to finish one book and begin research for another. Now, I may not be publishing them in print first, and I may begin using Smashwords again for the ebooks. Smashwords was extremely limited with distribution, but I had access to some of the majors and subscription sites. It was not global but it was better than nothing. Hell, sometimes I think I should give up on print altogether, and statistics show that people are reading less than ever. But thanks to all the frauds and incompetents in the book world, none of my books are going to enjoy their day in the sun. I did not expect to be a #1 bestselling author, I expected a reasonable return on my investment; but it looks like it’s all money down the drain.