Andy Haymaker Author

Transitioning from Bits to Atoms

One of the things that’s surprised me the most is how long it takes to get the book out into the world, even after the words are cover art are finalized. I plan to write about my struggles with Adobe Illustrator and PDFs, but for now I’ll talk about working with IngramSpark to get the hard copy editions of the book released. I posted on Facebook almost a month ago about the problems with the first paperback I received. This post follows up by describing how it’s going with the redesigned paperback and the first hardcover.

The revised paperback looks great, so I told IngramSpark to enable distribution. They didn’t ask me which retailers I wanted to distribute to or anything else like that. I did have to price the book, which came out higher than I wanted because of higher than expected printing costs and wholesale discounts, which are required if you want any chance of brick and mortar stores ordering your book. I picked $16.99 because IngramSpark’s pricing calculator told me I’d make about $2 USD per book, even with a less retailer-friendly discount. Less than that didn’t seem like a good path toward making writing my new career.

Something mysterious is happening behind the scenes, because Amazon noticed the book and correctly paired it with the Kindle version. It’s currently listed as unavailable, which is expected because IngramSpark needs do…something?…to be able to print-on-demand the book that they already printed for me once? Anyhow, the matte cover feels and looks great (on right, compared to glossy on left). I think it was worth the wait.

The first hardcover proof came back within days of the second paperback proof. It looks great in many ways, but still needs another spin. First, the same misalignment problem exists. This is clearest on the dust jacket. On the front, the frame is nearly falling off onto the spine. The spine looks terribly misaligned, especially the separator between title and author name (shown poorly in the full dust jacket pic).


The other issue was the paper. I had chosen white paper for the hardcover, because I wanted to compare this to the creme paper I chose for the paperback. The white’s okay, but it feels a little cheap and flimsy compared to the creme. I was worried creme would clash with the cover art beige, but it’s not an issue because the creme paper is very subtly colored and looks white to my eye (though not as white as the white paper).

On the plus side, the case laminate (cover art printed right on the hard cover) looks great. Now people who don’t like dust jackets (I didn’t know you existed until IngramSpark told me about you, but hello! I value you!) can still have a great looking cover with the intended art, even if they toss the dust jacket in the trash. Both case laminate and dust jacket look good to me with a glossy finish. I can’t explain why I like it on the hardcover but not the paperback. Case laminate front and back shown below:

The problem with changing the paper to creme is that the pages are slightly thicker, so the spine goes from 0.938 inches (23.83 mm) to 1.063 inches (27 mm). You’d think this requires redesigning only the spine, but the template IngramSpark requires moves several of the other components to different locations due to the different spine thickness. So I had to start a new Illustrator file and copy everything over section by section. This was much easier because I had organized the content into separate layers, e.g., front, back, and spine backgrounds, and front, back, and spine design elements. I know a lot of designers don’t organize their layers like this, but I think it’s definitely worth it. Coding taught me the value of organization. It’s most important not when you’re first creating the design, but when you’re refactoring and maintaining it. I can’t imagine trying to produce multiple editions of a book with everything on one layer.

For whatever reason, IngramSpark takes a long time to print hardcovers, and no rush service is offered, so I think it’ll be 3-4 weeks before I receive the next hardcover physical proof. Hopefully it’ll be perfect so I can enable distribution.


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