Picture Book Publishing – IngramSpark or Create Space: Quality Comparison

Before I launch into my next comparison between CreateSpace and IngramSpark, let me show you a short video of the day I received the first proof of my debut picture book, Tercules, in the mail (from CS). The “funny story” I refer to in the video is the one I share in my last post.

I FINALLY received the paperback version of Tercules from Ingram. Ironically, it beat the journal that I published half a month earlier, which still hasn’t arrived. Neither has the hardback format of Tercules. My previous post discusses all about that.

Interestingly, there were things I liked better about the CreateSpace printing of my book, and things I liked better about Ingram’s. After the disappointment I’ve experienced with Ingram, my expectations were low.

While pictures won’t do the images justice, let me show a few to show the differences.

The cover:

The CS print is on the left, Ingram on the right. Aside from the spine being on the front cover (which was my bad…) the differences are interesting. The CS cover is more vibrant. The colors are brighter. The Ingram cover, however, shows the leaves in the background a little better. Also, as noted by another reviewer of Ingram vs. CreateSpace, I did notice that the CS cover is more apt to collect finger prints and minor scratches. Even after being handled a bit, the fingerprints aren’t very noticeable on the Ingram version. At the end of the day, I think I’d still go with CS’s cover.

Here’s a close up of the two:


So while Ingram had a darker, less bright cover, the interior was bright and colorful. CreateSpace had a darker image… which was fine until I saw how nice and bright Ingram’s was. I also pulled up the images sent to me directly from my illustrator, Megan Frank, to see which matched her art the closest. While neither perfectly match her work, Ingram’s is the closest.

Because I’d honestly rather not work with Ingram, I emailed CreateSpace to see what they could do about this. This is their answer (which I appreciated):

Hello Marcy,

Greetings from CreateSpace.

One of the most difficult aspects of desktop publishing is color matching–properly converting the RGB colors into CMYK colors so that what gets printed looks the same as what appears on the monitor or the same as another printed copy.

Unfortunately, we do not currently offer color management for books, and cannot guarantee that the printed book’s color will appear the same as another copy.

Each computer screen and printer has the potential to display and print differently than the printers we use for our print-on-demand process. For this reason we cannot offer an alternative other than adjusting your file accordingly.

You may want to make the images a shade lighter within your native files and resubmitting the files in order for you to check what the proof copy will look like.

If you are not satisfied with the color that is printed, you may need to adjust the colors in your file until you find the correct shade when the book is printed.

I understand that this might not be the response you were hoping for and I truly wish that I would have been able to accommodate your request, unfortunately this is a matter beyond our control.

I appreciate your understanding in this regard Marcy.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns. We’ll do our best to aid you.

Thank you for reaching out to us. Have a good day.

Aren’t they lovely people? I got this personal email one day after I asked the question. If I were an illustrator, I would know how to do what they said, and I’d go in and do it and try again. Since I’m not (and don’t want to hassle my sweet illustrator again), I’m going to leave it.

About Author Images:

It’s not as easy to tell by this image (sorry) but strangely enough, the About the Author image looks pixilated on the Ingram print, while clear and crisp on the CS print. Maybe the brightness of their print had this affect on the author image… I’m not sure. But I don’t love that it looks that way on Ingram’s print. Strange considering how well the rest of the interior looked.

Ingram: Top CS: Bottom

Really, at the end of it all, either one would do perfectly well. Because I have seen them together, I’m going with the Ingram printing. However, I’m pretty sure for my next picture book (due in February!) that I’ll go with CreateSpace and just let my illustrator know to lighten the art a bit so it’s not so dark. But actually, my next book has lots of light, bright colors so it may not matter as much.

I hope this is helpful! I have a hard time finding much information on self publishing picture books. I’m happy to share my journey!

My next post in the series will look at hiring an illustrator. See you then!


Picture Book Planning: IngramSpark or CreateSpace


I recently released my debut picture book, Tercules! My baby has already brought in some really great reviews. I’m one happy mama! I have an AMAZING illustrator and couldn’t be more proud of first published book for children.

Having worked in the traditional market for MANY years, and having so often received great feedback on this story from agents and editors (even though they didn’t pick it up), I finally decided to try out publishing Tercules on my own.

This is the first of a series of posts that will be dedicated to my experience so that hopefully, others can get their stories into the hands of kiddos without some of the learning curves I’ve taken.

One of the major decisions when it comes to publishing a book is choosing a printer. For Reclaiming Hope: Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting Foster and Adopted Children, I chose to use CreateSpace. This was a pretty easy decision because so many of my publishing friends in Self Publishing School use CreateSpace and have had a great experience. This was a natural fit when it came to my non-fiction book.

However, as I approached the decision to publish a picture book, I found an array of differing opinion, with a majority leaning toward IngramSpark, because of their additional sizing and color options. And it’s true, Ingram offers a Standard and Premium option for color printing. They also offer paperback and hardback (CreateSpace only offers paperback). I really want hardback copies of my picture books, so this was a huge draw for me in the direction of Ingram.

But here’s where my experience brings me all the way back to CreateSpace, and with hardly a look back.

IngramSpark has all kinds of fees. I also find that it’s not nearly as user-friendly as CreateSpace. For example, I ordered a proof of my book. A few days later, I realized I needed to correct an issue on the interior and updated the file, expecting that my proof would be sent with the previous version.

But my proof never arrived. In fact, it said “printing” forever. I finally contacted IngramSpark via their live chat and was informed that I needed to go and approve the newest version I’d updated in order for the printing to continue. However, this wasn’t stated anywhere and, without having asked, I would have waited for the book to print and ship into eternity.

It costs $49 to load a title. What I didn’t know, is that if you approve the digital version of that title (even if you haven’t approved the proof), then any revision to said title will cost you another $25. CreateSpace, on the other hand, doesn’t charge any set up fee or revision fee. I’d love to think that I’ll never need to load a revision file… however, my experience has been that I do.

I’ve also found that everything is just harder in Ingram’s website. It took my illustrator a few tries to get a file that Ingram would accept for the cover. But a simple PDF worked fantastically with CreateSpace, with the first try. It also takes Ingram about 3-5 days to review a new title, but CreateSpace usually has it back to you the next day. There are some distribution issues with CreateSpace… like, if you don’t use their free ISBN, you don’t get the full distribution option. I prefer using my own ISBN but haven’t noticed any major impact on not having the full option (I’m on Amazon, and that’s mostly where I want to be).

Now, let’s look at print and ship times. Because my print proof still has not arrived from Ingram, I decided to load and print one of my books with CreateSpace, just to compare. This is what I’ve found so far.


Book: Castle Quest: An Adventure Journal
Submitted: November 22, 2016
Proof Ordered: November 29, 2016
Arrival Date: (Has not arrived as of January 10)
Shipped from the United Kingdom to my home in Germany
*Update- the proof arrived January 13, 2017*

Book: Tercules (paperback and hardback)
Submitted: December 5, 2016
Proof Ordered: December 6, 2016
Arrival Date: (Has not arrived as of January 10)
Shipped from the United Kingdom to my home in Germany
*Update- the paperback proof arrived January 12, 2017*
**Updated- the hardback proof has STILL NOT arrived as of February 4, 2017**


Book: Tercules (paperback)
Submitted December 26, 2016
Proof Ordered: December 27, 2016
Arrival Date: December 29, 2016
Shipped from the United States to my home in Germany

This has been a highly frustrating aspect of attempting to use IngramSpark. I have live-chatted with them repeatedly. They’ve told me it can take 5-20 business days to ship internationally. However, I’m seriously close to the UK and have ordered things from the UK without such a delay. CreateSpace, on the other hand, got my proof from the US to Germany in two days. (Ingram assured me that people who order my book will have a much faster shipping time. We’ll see).

I can’t compare the quality differences yet because, well, the proofs haven’t arrived. And since Ingram doesn’t track the shipment like CreateSpace does, they can’t even tell you where in the world it is at any given moment. CreateSpace, on the other hand, gives you a tracking number and you can follow your book.

The end result, so far, is this: CreateSpace, hands down. The proof of my books is GREAT! I LOVE it. It’s so much fun to see my baby Tercules in print! After all these years! (I wrote it about 7 years ago, waiting for someone to fall in love with it enough to sell it for me). This is way more valuable to me, that kids can find themselves in my story, than all of the “perks” that might have come with publishing traditionally.

Fourteen people have already left reviews on how much they’ve enjoyed Tercules (and I haven’t even officially launched it yet, with all my crazy marketing). One person even wrote to say that their son told them that Tercules is their favorite book on kindle right now! What a gift and joy! THIS is why I’m playing with publishing… to get the book out there. And with all of my years in the traditional market, I have a great professional background on how to write a good story and find an excellent illustrator.

I’ll probably, begrudgingly, stick with Ingram, only for their hardback copy option. Also, I hear that one has a better chance of getting into libraries and traditional bookstores through Ingram than CreateSpace, and this will be my goal as well. Until CreateSpace launches a hardback option, I’ll have to use both to some degree.

I hope this helps! Feel free to add any additional thoughts in the comments below. Hopefully my next post will be a quality comparison!

*Update- the paperback proof arrived January 12, 2017. You can check out my post on a quality comparison between the two proofs (CS and Ingram).*