The Kirkus Review of O.K. is Great

Download PDF

Because I wanted to see what the professionals think, I submitted my book, O.K. is Great, for a Kirkus Review.  Apparently, this publication is a pretty big deal in the publishing industry.  I was nervous to see what they would say, and I guess I shouldn’t have been.  They were more than okay with O.K.  Here’s my favorite two lines from their review.

“A spirited 12-year-old thinks he’ll never be anything but average until he recognizes his own gifts in this witty and wise novel for middle schoolers from a first-time author/illustrator.” – Kirkus Reviews

O.K. is Great

“This well-observed, funny book for middle schoolers scores high marks for the true-to-life observations, trials, and successes of its lively 12-year-old protagonist.” – Kirkus Reviews

Go ahead and read the full review here if you don’t believe me.

I love my book and think it is the greatest, but I can only shout into the wind so much.  I understand that, but everyone that gives O.K. a chance seems to really enjoy it.  On Goodreads and on Amazon, the reviews have all been very good.  It’s averaging between 4.8 to 4.9 stars out of 5.  My wife thinks that’s quite good, and she’s a math teacher, so it is statistically doing great too!

Here’s my sales pitch of the day.  Take a chance on O.K.  Get a copy today!

A Great Review for O.K. from Readers’ Favorite

Download PDF

The first professional review of O.K. is Great is in, and it makes me want to cry tears of joy.  I didn’t cry, mainly because I’m a man who has troubles showing his emotions, but I’m crying on the inside, like normal.

Readers' Favorite Five Star Review

Readers’ Favorite Five Star Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

O.K. is Great is a preteen coming of age novel written and illustrated by David Tiefenthaler. Otis Kalshwonkee’s been known by the nickname “OK” for as long as he can remember. He hates it because it seems to symbolize the fact that he’s just average in everything he does. His big brother Stu is a gifted sports animal and can do everything better than he does. His sister Ella is a talented pianist and even composes her own songs. Otis is hoping that starting seventh grade in a new school will give him a chance to shine and forget about that nickname and everything it stands for, once and for all. His mom and dad are moving the family to a house in the suburbs, and the new school is for both junior and senior high students. This means, of course, that big brother Stu will make sure everyone knows about the nickname, but Otis still isn’t giving up on his dream of being the greatest.

David Tiefenthaler’s preteen novel, O.K. is Great, is funny, inspirational and exciting all at once. Tiefenthaler’s illustrations make this story feel like a graphic novel, even if it does have more words than one normally finds in that genre, and the drawings work so incredibly well with the plot. I loved the pictures of big brother Stu, especially the one illustrating the dreaded nocturnal elbow drop. Otis and Leo’s training sessions are marvelous and the sports aspect of the story works wonderfully. Tiefenthaler also addresses the subject of bullying and cyber-bullying in a way that is supportive and positive. I had a lot of fun reading O.K. is Great. Otis is an awesome character, and I’m hoping that the author will keep us up to date on Otis’s further adventures. O.K. is Great is most highly recommended.

Shiny Five Star Readers' Favorite Seal of Approval

Shiny Five Star Readers’ Favorite Seal of Approval

Take an #OKSelfie with #OKisGreat

Download PDF

O.K. is Great, my book, is about to take social media by storm.  Here’s my plan to be a trend setter in the world of books.

Step One – Buy O.K. is Great.

Step Two – Read it

Step Three – Take a selfie with the book, but make sure it isn’t a great selfie.  It should only be okay.  Then post that pic on social media with the hashtags #OKSeflie and #OKisGreat.

Want to see some?  Here’s Shelly’s pic!

I'm OK x 2

I’m OK x 2

Next up we have twins with their dad.



Here’s one fan who read the book and then decided to go out for the track team!

Put that tongue back in your mouth, young man!

Put that tongue back in your mouth, young man!

My wife read it!  She couldn’t help but smile for the camera.

I love to snuggle with O.K.

I love to snuggle with O.K.

Finally, here’s one of me.

The camera scares me.

The camera scares me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Dave, you are much too handsome for an #OKSelfie.  You’re probably right.  I posted this to Instagram and got 11 hearts.  I’ve got to dial down my handsomeness, but I don’t know how.  It’s a curse.

Tag!  You’re it.  Get the book, read it, and take a pic.  I look forward to seeing you on social media as I stalk the hashtags #OKisGreat and #OKSelfie.

Promoting O.K. is Great on my Tips4Running YouTube Channel

Download PDF

If you’re a casual follower of this blog, you may not know that I lead a double life.  No, I’m not Batman.  Then again, Batman and I have never been in the same room at the same time.

I’m getting off topic.  What I mean to say is that I have a YouTube channel called Tips4Running where I make videos about tips for running.  My persona on there is “Coach Tief” because I was a collegiate runner, and a track and cross country coach after I graduated from college.  I’ve got a lot of subscribers on YouTube, so I’m using that site to push my book, O.K. is Great, out into the world.  Here’s the quick video promo I made.

Happy Trails,

Coach Tief!

Hooray for Teachers! (63/365)

Download PDF

I’m extremely lucky to work with such a nice staff, and I was reminded of this today.  Because I’m getting ready to launch my book sometime in May, I’m trying to establish some contacts to help me for the big release.  I was hoping the teachers at my school could help me out a bit, so I contacted my administrators.  I asked them if I could send out an email to see if other teachers would be interested in helping me out with the book.  This is the email that I sent out to them.

Hello Fellow Teachers,

I’m going to publish my first book later this spring (probably in May).  It’s an illustrated novel.  The target reading audience is EVERYONE!  Actually, it would be best for age 10 and up. 

I’d like to get some feedback on the book before it goes to print. If you’d be willing to help me with this, email me and I’ll contact you with more information.

I was super worried I’d get no responses, and blank stares from my coworkers at our next meeting.


We have to do so many things, that giving up any time at all is a major request.  However, the response was overwhelming.  I think the list of teachers who responded was around 20.  I have to get back to them with what I had in mind, but if you didn’t know already, teachers are extremely busy people.  What I am hoping they can do is be a part of the O.K. Crew.  It’s kind of like J. Crew, but it doesn’t have to do with clothing.  Nevermind.  It’s nothing like J. Crew.

I want to put together a list of 100 people.  I’m going to give these 100 people an advanced copy of the book.  In exchange, they will help promote the book.  That’s about it.  They say the best way to promote a book is word of mouth.  Well, teachers are social creatures.  They like to talk.  I should know.  I’m the founding member of teachers.  Wait.  No.  I’m just a bald guy.

Anywho, I am much more confident about getting the book out there now.  To quote The Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends as my guitar gently weeps.”  I think I mixed that one up too.  I’m a little off my game today.

How Do You Self-Publish a Book? (62/365)

Download PDF

I’m serious.  How do you do it?  I’m looking into this option right now for my first effort, and my head’s about to explode.

Does it need to be edited by a professional?  What about proofreading?  What does a copy editor do compared to a proofreader or an editor?  How much money should I spend on this option?

Should you get a professional cover?  What size will your cover be?  Who designs high quality covers?  How much should you pay?  What cover looks the best?  What looks the worst?


Here’s my three efforts, and I’m not sure I like any of them.  I think I need someone to combine covers one and two together because I want the reader to see the illustrations, but I also want the reader to know his name is O.K.

How do you format it?  Should I release it just as an electronic book?  Should I print several copies and sell it myself?  What are the advantages of printing it on demand?  How many can I expect to sell?  What programs are the best for formatting the book?  How do you format the interior of the book?  Should I make an audio version?

What will the target audience like?  The book is for middle grade students, but I think it has universal appeal, so how can I market it as a Middle Grade/YA/Illustrated/Realistic Fiction/Comedy.

Speaking of marketing, what strategies work?  Should I target librarians?  Should I contact book bloggers?  How can I sell to the YA audience?  What should I do on social media?  Will other people help me market it?  How can I help facilitate spreading the message?  Word of mouth works best, so I’ve heard, but how can I get that ball rolling?

Social media is a large component of letting people know the book exists, but what site should I focus on?  Is Goodreads the perfect group to target?  Should I focus on social media that a younger demographic uses?  Do people take selfies as they are reading a book on Instagram?  Should I Tweet about it?  I don’t want to spam my Facebook friends, but I’d like them to know about the book.  How do I do this in an appropriate way?

To those who have self-published, you are amazing.  I hope to join your ranks soon.  I just have a few questions that I need to work through first.

The Sandlot meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid (42/365)

Download PDF

During the summer, I spent my writing time turning my first book (which isn’t published yet) into a movie script (which hasn’t been filmed yet, nor is it even close to that level).  One thing that was fun about it though was speaking with a film maker named Dan Dobi.  Just as a point of reference, I met him through our love of YouTube.  He made a great documentary about YouTube called Please Subscribe, and I applied but failed to get a role in it.  Don’t worry.  It didn’t ruin my relationship with him.  I’m not a serious, full time YouTuber, so I knew I wasn’t going to be cast in the film (That movie is on NetFlix by the way).  Here’s my audition tape, if you’re wondering.

I’m off task again.  Anyways, one thing we were looking for when we were putting together the pitch for my screenplay to producers was a comparison.  Apparently, the people with the money want to know what the movie will be like by comparing it to other movies.  That’s how we came up with “The Sandlot meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid”.

It’s simple, and, for my book at least, it’s fairly accurate.

My book, “O.K. is Great” involves a 12 year old kid who’s main goal is to break the mile record for gym class.  His full name is Otis Kowalewskee, but his initials are O.K. and everyone calls him that.  Otis thinks he’s cursed to be O.K. forever, but his dad convinces him to actually try hard at something instead of just accepting mediocrity.  It’s like the Sandlot because there are a lot of sporty scenes in the story like playing football, wrestling, and of course, running.  There’s also the whole angle like Diary of a Wimpy Kid about this kid being small and not fitting in at his middle school.

Here’s a picture from the book.  The bigger kid is Stu, and O.K. is the kid in the headlock.  It’s an illustrated book, and I drew the pictures.  The book is written in the first person perspective of O.K., so the comments by the picture are his thoughts.


Now, only if some publisher would show interest in the book, or a producer would show some interest in the movie!