I very recently had the pleasure of taking part in a tour of Ingram Spark as part of the MK Lit Festival. If you don’t know who they are Ingram Spark are a print on demand printing and eBook publishing tool and the UK factory is based in Milton Keynes.
I had to get up early as it was quite a long drive for me to attend but one of the highlights of the day was meeting up with friends I have made via Instagram and members of World Indie Warriors.
As I drove to Milton Keynes the first thing I noticed was that there are a lot of roundabouts. I felt like my Satnav had broken and I was in a parallel universe of never ending roundabouts. As I met with Nicola my nerves were quickly eased. We both travelled together to the train station to meet up with Jodie and Cassidy and then on to Ingram Sparks.
We went upstairs to a large meeting room that over looked the factory. Here we were given tea and biscuits, free stationery and useful resource books about publishing with Ingram Spark.
Everyone quickly introduced themselves and then they started the presentation. The presentation told us about how the company began and what they are about. It then went onto how to use iPage to get your book listed, set your pricing and metadata.
We were then given access to a bookshelf of publishing resources and permission to help ourselves. There were sample books so you could see different size options, different print finishes (matt, gloss, etc), books full of tips on publishing and examples of a children’s book and a comic.
I helped myself to one of everything. My bag was super heavy but I knew this was a very valuable opportunity and after hearing the talk I was invested in the idea of self publishing.
Then we got to have the grand tour! This was a real highlight. Our tour guide referred to it as the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory equivalent for Book lovers and he wasn’t wrong.
It was fascinating watching the machines churning out pages on printers that were bigger than me. The ink cartridge was basically a massive barrel. Huge rolls of paper were loaded into the machine and they fed into the printer, coming out on a roll full of print. The pages were folded and chopped and moved along a conveyor belt to the next part of the production process. Another machine printed the covers to the specification requested. They then entered a machine where pages were bound and matched with the correct cover. The books continued on their conveyor belt until they reached a machine which trimmed the cover to size and sorted the books for distribution. Massive mail bags that would rival Santa’s sacks were bursting as they awaited collection.
We made the most of getting to meet up and Nicola (local to the area) took us to a beautiful pub for a drink. The sun was streaming and we kicked back and talked about writing. There is nothing better than being surrounded by like minded creatives who understand your crazy imagination. We took full advantage of the opportunity to connect on a more personal level offline.
I loved hanging out with them so much, I definitely want to meet up again. There have been whispering of another WIW meet at London Book Fair! I just have to figure out childcare and travel etc.
Seeing the books made, filled me with excitement. My inner voice kept squealing, “That could be your book one day!” I wish I could show you pictures or videos of the factory but they made me sign an NDA. Seeing it come to life made me eager to get my manuscript ready for print so my ink and paper creation can go for a ride on their conveyor belt.
If you ever get the opportunity to go on their tour, do it. If you are thinking about self publishing, definitely consider Ingram Spark.
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