Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paperback Sale- Limited Time Only

The Soulkeepers is getting a facelift!  With Weaving Destiny coming soon, I have my artist working on a new cover design for the books to give them a series look and feel.  In addition, the paperback version of book one is being re-formated to match the re-branding and correct two minor typos found in the first edition that have already been corrected in the eBook format.

So, with the second edition on its way, I'm putting the first edition on sale.  This 330 page book usually retails for $12.99 but is on sale for $8.99.  It is currently only available POD through Createspace but will be available through Amazon once their system uploads the new price.

To be transparent, this price is only available because I've pulled the book from extended distribution in anticipation of the new edition and am selling it at cost.  I've decided to do this for those readers that don't have an e-reader but want to get the book at a rock-bottom price.  Once the second edition is available, this sale will end.

You can buy The Soulkeepers today at the $8.99 price using this link:

Createspace Store - The Soulkeepers

I'm looking forward to sharing some exciting news with you in the coming weeks on the new art, website, and promotions for Weaving Destiny.  If you would like to be the first to know about these, make sure to "like" The Soulkeepers Series on Facebook by clicking on the box to your right.

Happy reading and thanks to all of you who have read and reviewed The Soulkeepers!  I can't wait to share what Jacob, Malini and the rest of the crew are up to next.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Summer is just around the corner and all of the authors at DarkSide Publishing want to make sure you have plenty of marvelous YA books to read poolside.So, as part of the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Page Turners, I'm giving away five (5) ecopies of The Soulkeepers!

Entering is easy. Simply complete the form below. Improve your odds by following me on your preferred social network!

Don't forget to check out the other blogs in the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop including DarkSide authors Megg Jensen, Karly Kirkpatrick and Angela Carlie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Goodreads Giveaway: Last Signed First Edition Copy

You have six more days to enter the current Goodreads Giveaway of The Soulkeepers.  I wouldn't normally put that news on my blog but it just so happens that this giveaway is special.  See, with Medicine Woman coming out in the fall, I'll be changing the interior and cover of The Soulkeepers to have more of a series look and feel.  I'm not sure yet what these changes will include.  They could be simple, like adding the words Book One to the cover or drastic like replacing it entirely.  But one thing is for sure, it will be different.

So, this giveaway is for the last original first edition autographed copy of The Soulkeepers.  If you're interested, please enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Soulkeepers by GP Ching

The Soulkeepers

by GP Ching

Giveaway ends May 27, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pig Cam

If you follow my blog, you know I love guinea pigs. Some people have asked me what my guinea pig (his name is Pig) looks like.  I took this little video yesterday.  Some of you may have seen it on Facebook, but in case there is anyone else out there that likes to waste time on Thursday morning watching cute furry animals, I thought I would post it here too. He sniffs the camera and maybe eats his poop a little but it's still cute. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guest Post: Lorna Suzuki-On Choosing Lightning Source

Lorna Suzuki is the very talented author of the The Dream Merchant Saga and the Imago Fantasy Series (optioned for a major motion picture trilogy).  She is also a martial arts expert and savvy business woman.  I'm very pleased to have her here today to share her indie experience switching to Lightning Source. If you haven't published yet, I recommend you read this link as a primer to frame up the differences between the companies Lorna talks about.  Enjoy!

With so many aspiring authors looking to publish their works, I often get asked about my experiences with POD publishing companies and why I decided to become an indie author/publisher.

There are many great options these days and because of this, I’ve been pulling my books from the POD company that once published my books.

Why you ask?

Before I knew going completely indie was a possibility, POD companies like Trafford & iUniverse seemed to be the only option. But now, there are other, better options available to those who want to take the initiative.

In truth, even the most basic publishing package these POD companies offer that DO NOT include any kind of distribution is very expensive. To upgrade to a full distribution package can only be described as outrageously expensive, especially as this will not get you into the brick and mortar bookstores to generate sales.

So what is an author to do?
I tell writers that first, try the traditional route. Query agents, submit to publishing companies that welcome unsolicited submissions, etc.

Once you feel you’ve exhausted all possibilities (or you’ve wasted too much time waiting for the gatekeepers of the publishing world to crack open the door), then it’s good to consider all the options open to a writer.

The POD companies are okay if you have money to feed these publishing monsters, as the best distribution packages are very costly (and still don’t guarantee any sales). If you don’t have this kind of money to throw around and want to take control of all creative aspects of publishing, including setting your profit margins, going indie is the better, cheaper, option.

If you decide you’d like to take a crack at going indie, do your homework! Go on the internet and google as to how many complaints have been lodged by other authors. I was surprised by how many negative comments I’ve found posted about Lulu and CreateSpace!

On the other end of the spectrum, I found only one complaint about a company called Lightning Source!

This is what first caught my attention about this company. Upon further investigation I discovered LS was used by some of the big name traditional publishers to print their books; they charged a fraction of what Trafford charged for setting up a title for the sale of print books; plus, and this is the big one: for the cost of setting up a title, because they are partnered with Ingrams, one of the largest book distributors in North America, they offered the same distribution you’d be paying in a premium package to distribute through a POD company like Trafford!

When I set up my first book with LS, the $70 included distribution. This same level of distribution had been well beyond my financial means through Trafford, hence, the reason I’ve been pulling my books from them to publish with LS.

It seems that many POD companies focus on making their money by charging authors for all these services, including distribution (many using Ingrams). In the case of LS, they charge a much smaller fee to set up and distribute, with the understanding that greater distribution means greater exposure; the more exposure for your books, the great chances of sales. The more they sell of your book, the more they and the author will benefit!

I like Lightning Source’s way of thinking and conducting business with the author. And guess what? For a one-time $60 fee, your book is included in Ingram’s Advance Catalogue!

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I’ve had from authors who ended up going with Lightning Source, too:

What distribution "service" to use on Lightning Source?
That depends on what you want. If you want limited distribution (& possibly some difficulties in receiving royalties) go with CreateSpace as they are owned by Amazon, so they want to keep as much of the profits for themselves, but if you do want greater distribution, I understand it is pretty expensive.

LS charges a little more to set up and distribute your book, but when you consider they will distribute widely (partnered with Ingrams, one of the biggest book distributors in North America) to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, etc. as well as making your books available to thousands of libraries in US & Canada, plus, for a one time fee of $60, put can list your book in Ingrams advance catalogue. (Trafford charges thousands for a premium distribution program using Ingrams.)

I’d recommend going with print books with LS as they are professional, fast & always helpful. (You will usually receive proof copy 1 week after submitting files!)
I make deluxe pdf versions available on my website as they look just like the print books with the maps, graphics, etc.

Go with Smashwords for ebooks to sell on Kobo, Sony, Apple  Store, etc. for various mobile reading devices. (Bonus with As of May 2011, they now convert your titles into Apps for free and distribute to various App sellers!) Set up ebooks separately on Amazon to sell on Kindle.

Is Lightning Source or CreateSpace better?
I did my homework and CreateSpace has limited distribution to Amazon unless you pay a premium for wider distribution, but based on customer complaints, many authors had frustrations with them for various reasons. I’ve also encountered as many authors voicing their frustrations with Lulu. 

When I googled complaints lodged against LS, where they were numerous with CreateSpace, I found only one had been lodged with BBB against LS and many favorable comments posted about working with LS. I’ve had no problems & I’m very happy with them, as are the other writers who asked me about LS and switched over, too.

Is there ever a chance of getting into book stores with LS? If so, how?
Best thing to do is to make friends with the indie bookstores. Just remember, publishers must pay for a strategic location on shelves and tables.

Same question as above, but with libraries? 
Start with making friends with local librarians, doing book readings, support literary events they host etc. When you get your foot in the door, librarians will be happy to help.

My books are creeping into libraries province wide & should have greater presence once I attend the provincial ‘Read Dating’ event next week.
In Canadian libraries, because of Ingrams, books can be ordered through Coutts Library Services.

If printing books to ship ourselves, how many should we print at first?
LS gives you an exact breakdown as you place your order so you’ll know how much the shipping charges will be. How much depends on how many review copies you’ll need, how many you’d like to gift to libraries/friends, etc., how many you’d need for reading/signings, and so on. Just don’t go crazy and order hundreds, then feel bad when they don’t move as quickly as you’d like.
It seems that with iPad, kobo, kindle, etc. more readers are buying print books when there’s an opportunity to meet author & have it signed. My ebooks outsell the print books, but I discovered some readers, after buying the ebooks, also end up ordering print ones through Amazon or B&N because they wanted they on their bookshelves.

LS also offers hardcovers. Should we offer them at all?
You can, but overall, the sales seems to be with ebooks, paperbacks and hardcovers being paid for by those who are collectors, etc. 

What are the benefits of printing your book thru Lulu (who uses LS as it's printer)?
Argh! Avoid Lulu, I’ve heard so many complaints, that's why these authors have switched to LS!

Should you allow returns on your books?
With LS, DO NOT allow returns. For example, Amazon bought a shipment of Dream Merchant through LS. They sold as many as they could and with the last two, they practically gave it away. If I had allowed a return & they bought hundreds & only sold a handful within that allotted time, I would have been stuck with all these books!  If you do it with no returns, then it will be like a true POD service. Trust me on this!

Hope this answers most of your questions! If you do have more, feel free to contact me through my website:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Congratulations to the following Tweeps!

Congratulations to the following lucky seventeen people who get to choose from the books listed in the 1,000 Twitter Follower Reader's Choice Giveaway!
  1. Reelfoothoodrat
  2. Shiningstar786
  3. AlisonDeluca
  4. just1Gabriella
  5. Lisacombs
  6. artdem83
  7. ravenrequiem13
  8. matthiasville
  9. Jessiecochrane
  10. annmarieager
  11. abookvacation
  12. wordspelunker
  13. memoryofagoldfish
  14. kr15stina
  15. arick01
  16. wovenstrands
  17. Thebookmystress
Please contact me as soon as possible so that I can correspond with you about your preferences.  If I do not hear from you in the next 24 hours, you will forfeit your position on the list and move to the bottom. If you didn't win, please consider buying your copy of the book or books of your choice.  All of these selections are an incredible value, most under $3. 

Thank you to all of the readers and authors who participated!

G.P. Ching

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

1,000 Twitter Follower Reader's Choice Giveaway

Please Note:  This contest is now closed.  All winners have been notified.

I've reached 1,000 Twitter followers and I'm celebrating in a HUGE way!  Of course I'm giving away The Soulkeepers, but if you follow me chances are you've already bought it. So, in order to reward my loyal followers and the people who don't wait to buy my book, I'm giving away something else, something you don't already have. I'm giving away OTHER PEOPLE' S BOOKS!   That's right.  I've searched Twitter for the best in young adult fiction and I have it right here.

I'll be choosing seventeen (17) winners, one winner for each title listed.  The first winner will choose one ebook from the entire list of books.  The second winner will choose one ebook from the remaining selections until all of these fantastic ebooks are gone. Here are the ebooks winners can choose from:

Here's the best part.  All seventeen winners will be offered an ecopy of The Soulkeepers, too! If you already own it, no worries...
you can pick another DarkSide Publishing title of your choice as well!  That's right, Anathema, Bloody Little Secrets, Dream Smashers or Into the Shadows.

All you need to do to enter is to tweet this:

I want to win The Soulkeepers plus my choice of YA ebook from @gpching #teenlit #kindle #nook #ebook #giveaway 

And make sure you follow me on Twitter so that I can DM you if you win!  Also, please note retweets do not always show up in my feed. The BEST way to enter is to copy and paste the message and then tweet it.  Don't have a twitter account?  Share this on your preferred social network and follow me there, and I will enter you.  Make sure you tag me in the post or I won't see it.

The giveaway will end Sunday, May 15, 2011 at midnight. I'll randomly choose seventeen winners, and contact them over the following week!


Fine print: You may enter as many times as you like. You must be 18 to enter or have your parent's permission. Only entries that show up in my Twitter feed or that I am tagged in on Facebook will be counted. Entrants will be assigned a number and winners will be randomly chosen through

Corpse Flower: Yes it's a Real Thing!

A reader sent me this link on twitter today, asking if the plants in Dr. Silva's garden were inspired by the one referenced in the article.  The answer is, yes, they are one and the same.  And if you read the article you will have a new appreciation for their ability to repel!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Writing Novels Using The Circus Method

In several reviews of The Soulkeepers, readers have mentioned the intricacy of the plot and how the characters develop as the fictional world unfolds.  I've had a couple of writers email me and tell me that they changed the way they looked at their own story after reading my book.  So, I thought I would share how I develop a story with you.

I call my method The Circus Method. Everyone has heard of the three ring circus, right?  Well, my writing has three rings or, in other words, a  minimum of three story arcs.  These are stories within the story.  You could call them sub-plots, too, if you prefer.

Inside the first ring is an intrapersonal story arc.  It deals with how my main character is changing on the inside.  The second ring is an interpersonal arc, about how my main character deals with the other people in his or her life, like family and close friends.  The last ring is the public arc.  This has to do with how my character reacts to an external event that is bigger than any one person or group of people.  The rings alternate under the spotlight, so the reader gets a small taste of only one story at a time.  The story starts with the inciting event, which takes place in one of these rings but will drive the activity in all of them until the end of the story.

Most great stories have these elements.  If you look at The Hunger Games for example, Katniss is struggling internally with growing up, while balancing her relationships with Gale and Peeta, and at the same time facing off against the games themselves which are beyond all of their control.  I bet you could define any of your favorite works through this method.

But, coming up with your three rings is the easy part.  The trick is to write more like Cirque Du Soleil than like your everyday circus.  If you've ever seen a Cirque show,  you know that wherever you look in the theatre something is happening.   You may be watching an acrobatic act but the actor from scene one is singing opera to your left and a contortionist is hanging from a trapeze above you and to your right.

The same happens in great writing.  The character's intrapersonal turmoil must jump into the ring with his interpersonal conflicts and the greater public threat must in some way circle back and be meaningful to the main character in a way that goes beyond coincidental.

If you can do all of these things, and still describe the pattern of the tent upholstery, the smell of popcorn and animal dung, and the sound of the next act waiting in the wings, you will have written a story worth reading.

Good luck with your writing.  I hope you've enjoyed touring my literary circus.  Don't step in the elephant dung!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

John Locke Pricing Experiment: Wrap Up

The end of my test week is here and I've changed the price of The Soulkeepers back to $2.99.  I have to admit, it was tempting to leave the 99 cent price tag as it is easier to sell copies, for sure.  But in the end I did lose revenue and with book two in the series coming out in the fall, it's a little early to discount it permanently.  Here's a wrap up of the results.

  • Once I dropped the price on Nook copies as well as Kindle copies, my sales further increased to about 4.5 times there usual rate.  Still short of the six I needed to make up the difference in royalties but significant sales growth.
  • My Amazon rank also improved significantly from approximately 80,000 to a high of 10,000 but it's back in the 30,000s today as the initial spike of 99 cent buyers leveled out.  
  • I am certain that I reached new readers with the price change, both because I sold more in the UK than usual and had some new reviews from people who purchased at the new price, but also the "customers also purchased" section changed significantly.  There are more adult books in the mix.  So that price point may have enticed certain readers out of their usual genre.
The ultimate takeaway? The 99 cent price point is a powerful tool to expand market penetration when used in combination with targeted promotional efforts.  It isn't a magic bullet and those who are succeeding at this price point are doing so for more reasons than price.  It's true, 99 cents might get your foot in the door with some readers but you probably won't make more revenue than you would at $2.99 unless you also increase promotion concurrently.  Plus, the free-99 cent readers are a different group of customers than the $2.99-$4.99 readers.  So, shifting your price around is probably better than remaining static for the simple reason of reaching a varying audience.

I hope this information is helpful to you.  Write-on fellow indies!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

FAQ: Is The Soulkeepers a "Religious" book?

A:  No...and yes.  Let me explain. I'll try my best to be vague enough to not reveal spoilers.

If you think that A Thousand Splendid Suns is a religious book-a Muslim book-then The Soulkeepers is probably a religious book.

If you think The DaVinci Code is a religious book, then yes The Soulkeepers is probably a religious book.

You could make some comparisons between The Shack and The Soulkeepers but the later is definitely not as religious or as prescriptive.

In a recent blog post, Elizabeth Ann West mentioned the cross in my picture. I am Christian(Lutheran to be exact) as are most of the people where I live in Central Illinois, but I never intended for The Soulkeepers to be a prescriptively "Christian" book.  I wrote it because I read tons of YA books but in almost all of them, the main character has "never thought much about religion".  But statistically in America, around 90% of kids are being raised in households that practice a religion.  I wanted my character to reflect that young adults do think about God and an afterlife. However, I also wanted to reflect that this thinking is individual, unique, and not necessarily the same as the beliefs of their family unit. 

The Soulkeepers takes place in Paris, Illinois, a tiny town on the border of Indiana.  At the beginning of the book, my main character is an atheist, transplanted there from his birthplace in Hawaii.  As such, the story takes place in a Christian context, as that is the primary religion in the area.  This is similar to A Thousand Splendid Suns taking place in a Muslim context.

The story behind The Soulkeepers is, also, based on a fictionalized account of Judeo-Christian biblical history.  I would compare this to The DaVinci Code as it uses rarely heard of religious texts to add to the world building in a fictional setting.

And yes, like the Shack, my main character is not an atheist at the end of my story.  However, he is also not part of any one religion. He has a uniquely individual experience that changes him, but that experience isn't prescriptive.

The interesting thing to me has been hearing reader's interpretations.  Everyone who has contacted me has interpreted The Soulkeepers in a different way.  If you have read it or do read it, I'm interested in your opinion.  Do you think of it as a religious book?  A Christian book? A spiritual book? Or simply a work of fiction in the context of the American Bible belt?

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