Tag Archives: Ingram Sparks

Navigating the Amazon wilds

The loudest lament among authors today is: wouldn’t it be nice to write? Who has time when you spend hours trying to navigate the world of publishing and marketing. Yet unless you’ve been “discovered” by a large, traditional publishing house or clever agent, most of your effort goes into getting the word out about your book. And even those authors with traditional contracts spend huge chunks of time fulfilling the marketing requirements of their

The reality is you’re at the mercy of a new world of book publishing that’s so convoluted and complex these days that you spend a lot of time wearing a blind-fold and whacking at moles.

For those readers asking: what’s got your panties in a bunch this week, Genilee, the answer is: Amazon. The print version of our books under our own publishing name gradually started to show up on Amazon over the course of the last month, but I’ve been trying to ensure that the hundreds of people I know that use their Kindles could get our books, too.

I spent countless hours waiting, thinking it would work like it did for our first self-published book (Holiday Connections): just show up. Then I spent more hours trying to understand how Ingram Sparks (IS), my huge printing firm, works realizing that it gets distributed by them to Amazon and other retailers so I needed to start there. After several rounds of emails to IS (with absolutely no replies), I finally decided the best and only effective way to “contact us for help” was to pick up a phone. I waited 15 minutes to get through to a real live person. However, the very real, very live and helpful person I spoke with wrote one email to Amazon and our books reappeared in Kindle form on the Amazon site—within minutes of my initial phone call.

I’d celebrate this great victory, except for one reality: almost no one can find our books on the site, and the few that are clever or determined enough to try, find a huge conflict in what’s available.

By searching on Amazon’s site and using one of the book’s names and one of our last names (I used Swope), you get the following results:

For Twist of Fate: 1) A listing where it’s available for $9.99 new and $1.07 used; 2) A listing where it’s available for $30.67 “used & new”; 3) a listing where it is “unavailable.” No listing for the Kindle version. If you scroll down to the bottom of that page you see: Results for “Twist of Fate Swope.” Three things are listed: 1) Wretched Fate, the Kindle version only; 2) Twist of Fate, the printed version only (but wait, didn’t we just take out the first two words and get the same thing as our initial search??); 3) Violet Fate, the Kindle version only.

For a search for Wretched Fate and Swope you get: 1) A listing of an old, out-of-date version available new for $8.99 or for $.01 (really, a penny?); 2) a listing of the older version “used & new” for $83.26 (Would someone really pay that?). No listing for the Kindle version. Scrolling to the bottom to: results for “Wretched Fate Swope” you get: 1) Wretched Fate, the Kindle version only (yea, there it is!! But why does taking out the word “Wretched” get you to the right place?); 2) Twist of Fate, the printed version only; and 3) Violet Fate, the Kindle version only.

For Violet Fate: 1) A listing for the printed version for $8.99, 2) a listing that looks exactly the same except you can get it “used & new” for $28.11. No listing for the Kindle version. At the bottom of that page under: Results for “Violet Fate Swope” you see: Wretched Fate, the Kindle version only (there’s Wretched’s Kindle version again. All you have to do is search under a different name than Wretched Fate, the actual title!!); Twist of Fate, the printed version only; and Violet Fate, the Kindle version (REALLY: in other words, by taking out the word ‘Violet’, the Kindle version pops up. Hmmmmm).

My point in all this is not to paint Amazon or Ingram Sparks as the bad guys. They are just huge and with hugeness comes confusion. I couldn’t have afforded publishing my own books 20 years ago when these two players were emerging and the world of independent publishing was being born. My point is this: if you’re one of us out there trying to get down this great river of being an author through the wild jungle of learning how to get the system to work for you, make sure you have a spare paddle and lots of patience. You’re going to need it.

Genilee Swope Parente



Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Being Part of the Global Community

I needed a distraction from my editorial work this week so I decided to google our new Holiday Connections book. Imagine my shock when I found all four of our books available in the UK, France, Estonia, Denmark, Holland, South Asia, South Africa, Spain, Japan and many places in Canada. And that was just the first five pages of results. Some of the sites, I had to hit the “translate this page” just to understand what I was seeing.dreamstime_xs_50772765

I also found Holiday Connections mentioned on sites such as the British Columbia Booksellers Association as one of the new Christmas releases. I spotted the book in several Christian bookstores; it was listed among the new releases for a small independent bookstore in San Antonio, TX; and I found it for sale at quite a few Canadian independent bookstores. I even found it listed on a general gift site in the UK that also sold jewelry, toys, music and health products.

The feeling was so wonderful, I immediately called mom and shared my search results with her. We both agreed that it brought a whole new dimension to being authors: to know our names and our works are all over the world brings us both much joy.

I don’t know if that will ever translate into sales, and I’m not sure I really care. But the thought that someone across the ocean in Europe, Africa or Asia might be sitting curled up by a fire getting lost in one of our holiday tales or falling in love with Sam Osborne of The Fate Series is thrilling.

It also showed me how much I don’t understand about the big wide world of distribution and global commerce. We went with the same printing/distributing giant that our former publisher—Spectacle Publishing Media Group used: Ingram Sparks. I’d read that they have the widest spread around the world—even wider than amazon’s publishing arm. But how fast this all came about and how very broad that reach is, was jaw dropping

Surprisingly, it didn’t make me feel like a small fish in a huge ocean as you might imagine. It made me feel connected—part of the school of fish that loves books.

final coverReaders: Don’t forget the holiday special for our newest book is available through November. Contact us at if you want to order an autographed book at the discounted rate.

And thank you for being part of that school of fish!

Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


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