Formatting your e-book!


I wanted to post this blog today in response to a bad review we had recently received. Did I want to lash out and act just as badly to the person who wrote the review? Yes, I did. In the end though I decided to take a negative and try and turn it into a positive in some way.

 Recently I received a bad review regarding our book. It states we were sloppy in the formatting department and also in the punctuation area as well. I have read this bad review over and over until I pretty much know it by heart. First of all, let me say in my own defense, I did put in what I thought was the proper formatting in my paragraphs and indents in the word doc. When I read a book, I do not want to see a big one paragraph chapter. I noticed when I was able to look at the preview that it took out all indents and spacing between my paragraphs. Had I formatted this correctly for e-book? The sad and unfortunate answer is no. It was correct for CreateSpace’s paperback books, but not for e-books.

The review kept bugging me and bugging me. So I started to ask questions. I talked to a  friend Raymond Frazee, who has been instrumental in helping me learn some new tricks with Word 2010. There are others on Facebook pages such as MasterKoda and Buggie 4 Books that are very proficient with word 2007 and 2003. I wanted to learn how to do it properly and since I have gotten that bad review I am learning the proper way to put them in so they will stay.I have been informed though that some Kindle and e-book formatters will take out all spacing’s and indents no matter how much you want them in there. I discovered if your Kindle is on your desk top it will more than likely take them out.

One thing I learned is that if someone tells you it was formatted badly, maybe you should find out what you can do to make it better. Ask around in the chat rooms. If you have uploaded it to Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords, they have community boards where a lot of answers can be found.  Technology is changing all the time and with it we must change too. We must learn the newer ways an adapt.  I learned that if you go to paragraph in Word you can set up your paragraphs to have indents on the first line and you can set it up to have spacing between your paragraphs too.

As for the poor punctuation in the first chapter, the only thing I can say about that is this. We have Microsoft office word for this very reason. It helps you catch bad punctuation or lagging sentences. Is it perfect? No. It is much better at catching things of this nature then I am. We still go through it and read it over and over. We hired someone to edit the story also. I feel very confident in the punctuation part in the first 70 some pages.  That is where we had to stop with her helping on the editing due to conflicting writing styles. The rest is Microsoft office and what we were able to find and correct between 3 people.

The reviewer also said the book was dull. I think that is a personal opinion and not one I can help her with. I have found books that were exceedingly boring for me to read, while other people raved about them. The book is geared towards Young Adult Fantasy, preferably grades 5ththrough 8th grade. We have had a lot of good compliments on our book.  I like books of this age group as do many other “grown adults.”

You may ask how did I take a bad review and turn it into something positive. I worked on what I could. I learned that there are ways to properly insert indents and spacing for paragraphs. I learned that while this works on most e-book readers, it doesn’t work on all of them. Some will still take out all of your indents and spacing between paragraphs.

So if you get a bad review, as long as there are specifics as to what is wrong such as bad grammar, bad punctuation, no spacing or indents in your paragraphs. Listen to what they are saying. Research and find out if you have done it wrong. Make sure you can back up what you have done with the correct information.  These are our books, our babies that we are putting out there for others to judge. Even though it will hurt to have them judged harshly, learn from it and improve it. The nice thing about e-books is they can be changed and updated so they will read better and look nicer.

 As for reviewers who have a personal dislike for indie authors. The only thing I can say to that is this. Don’t give them a bad book!

Writing from the heart.


A friend of mine recently told me I should write a blog and write from the heart. I have always been a very private person, not letting anyone get too close to me. I have kept people at arms length if  not more. I can relate to a lot of people’s pain whether it be from abuse or a painful past or even surgeries. I don’t talk about my own much but am willing to talk to others and help them with theirs. I let them know that I have been there too so can understand. I used to talk when I was young but found no one really cared. One person even said, “the further in time you get from the incident the less people care.” So I stopped talking about it.
Now flash forward a life time with kids and getting them raised and again I find myself talking about something I never figured anyone would want to hear about. My son, Charlie who has learning difficulties while in school, people want to know about! Charlie has dyslexia and cross modalities. Together we have written a book called “Kai’s Journey”. We are indie authors and have come a long way. I found that people wanted to know more about Charlie’s struggles and how he overcame them and still graduated high school. When we were querying agents I was told by an ISU professor to not share too much. Less is more. So I stopped telling the agents about Charlie and his struggles to become an author. Now that we have joined the MasterKoda site on facebook and gone onto a few of their parties and talked, People want to know about him!
The local school has contacted us asking if we would talk to a student about how to become an author. The AEA is wanting to talk to us also to maybe help set up a new way of teaching for kids who don’t learn in the “normal” way. As the principal Mr. Kozak stated, “teach outside the box” by incorporating their pasion with the lessons needed to be taught. To go along with that, I have also contacted the guidance councelor to talk about doing presentations to schools concerning some of the perils to watch out for when walking the road to getting published. I have found that here in Iowa,even authors who have been published for a long time really dont’ want to impart much information as for the ways of getting published. I want to let those kids know that while it is something to strive for to be careful out there and question everything!
I am by far an expert on any one thing in regards to getting published, but I am learning everyday new things and new ideas. I hope to pass that knowledge on to new and upcoming authors from Iowa. We may not have Chicago, or New York here but I am here and all it takes is one snow flake to start an avalance! I am quoting a friend there. Just because we are out in the boonies doesn’t mean we can’t help others find their way. While we don’t know how this will all come about we are pro actively reaching out to others to possibly help out aspiring authors and poets to realize their dreams. I realized long ago, no one is going to come knocking on my door asking for my knowledge or to ask us to speak. I am taking the initiative and going out to our local school and using them as a pilot to see how it goes and how we could improve if needed. We are still working on stories but also trying to start other venues in our area too.
Our journey to getting published wasnt’ just us writing a story, it was a group effort. Our local school helped us, friends helped us. Our local newspaper took an interest in us and helped us. Our local library was a great resource for information we were looking for. No matter how outlandish it sounded. Even our local vet helped us too! We hope to repay all those people who have helped us by paying it forward and helping others who are also looking to reach their dreams. So to sum all this up. You never know who does want to hear your life’s story, good or bad. You never know who you can help until you try. Most important of all, if you have a dream, never give up!

Our own shameless plug!


Kai’s Journey – Charles & Wendy Siefken

by Page Bookshelf Central on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 10:20am ·
“Kai’s Journey” is a story about a young man, set ten years in the future. Kai has spent those years fighting for survival and trying to find a way rid the world of the disease his father created.. His father was a military scientist charged with the task of perfecting a formula that would create a superior breed of soldiers. Kai’s father accidentally created a race of zombies. Like a virus, it soon spreads to the entire world, unleashing a period of unsurpassed chaos and conflict. In the midst of this turmoil, Kai comes across a young woman named Clover, who is part of a clan traveling across the United States to try to find what is left of humanity. Clover is a part of a clan of werewolves who can turn at will but aren’t blood thirsty savages as depicted in general history. . Along the way Kai and Clover come across stragglers who join with the group as they journey across the upper part of what used to be known as North America.One night while Kai and Clover were watching a meteor shower they meet a group totally out of this world. Kai and Clover begin a heroic journey, fueled by the increasingly dim hope that somehow, the human race will have a chance to start over.

From the title I expected a story along the same lines as The kite runner, but oh no this is definately nothing like that. This is a story of a quest; a quest to cure a disease and rid the world of zombies and Kai, for reasons that will be made clear in the book, is the one who feels he must carry out this quest. A thrilling book and that is praise indeed as I don’t normally read or watch anything to do with zombies.

We have an article in the Marshall Times, its an insert in the Marshalltown Times Republican. Its a local news paper. I really do like how Mike Donahey did the article too. Very well done! I was so excited I was all giggly at the gas station! not a normal mood for me to be in,, (Giggly) that is.. but was just excited to see my son in the paper and our book being out there! awesome!