Randy Greenwald

Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

Category: The Book

Where to Get The Book

My wise friend Lee asked on Twitter the following question:

“Can we order from somewhere other than the monopoly responsible for killing 90% of local bookstores?”

Lee, who was asking about my book Something Worth Living For, is opinionated as well as wise, as that tweet suggests. On this we are in agreement. I have gone on record (you can follow the argument beginning here) that I am engaged in a one person boycott of Amazon. Partly this is to preserve the existence and prosperity of local bookshops. And partly this is due to Amazon’s cavalier policy toward counterfeiting. I have not bought a book from Amazon for a year, other than to use gift cards given to me specifically for that purpose, and will never do so again if I can help it.

And yet as a writer, one whose own book will soon sit upon a virtual Amazon shelf, I’m aware of the power of that monopoly to sell books. Most who buy my book will buy it from Amazon. I direct people to Amazon because that will be the easiest source for most people. But for those willing to take a little bit more effort, I would be pleased if you would buy it elsewhere. (In fact, I think you should buy a copy from every source!) For example, other large, online retailers like Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million are currently offering it for pre-order.

They are options. But there are others.

1) Ask for it at your local bookseller. If I’m not mistaken, the book will be available through normal channels of distribution and any local book seller should be able to get it. I love to encourage people to patronize their local bookshops and this is an opportunity to do so. This could have the benefit of drawing attention to the book and encouraging that store to stock it. And this will bring it to the attention of a wider public.

2) When I was researching online book buying options, I loved my experience with Hearts and Minds Bookstore, a Pennsylvania Christian bookseller with a vibrant online presence. If I were to order online, this would be among my first choices. Their catalog is selective and they do not currently carry it (something I will soon work to change). If others were to ask for it, the attention there would be appreciated. I bet they could get it and be persuaded to carry it.

3) If you want to pre-order and still support local bookstores, I encourage you to pre-order it from Bookshop.org. Not only does this online site return a percentage of sales income back to local bookshops, it is the only place online currently offering Something Worth Living For at a discount. This is a great source for books for those who do not have access to a local bookshop.

4) Currently one cannot pre-order from the Christian Focus web site, but when the book is released that will be possible, and CFP will be offering significant discounts on quantity purchases.

I am sure there are others.

So, yes, please, order the book, buy the book, purchase multiple copies of the book, from your local bookshop if you can, but elsewhere if that is what you do. As for Amazon, we cannot kill the Beast, but we can defund it a bit. And yet, I understand that Amazon is an option and for most, the easiest (which is why my wife has not joined me on my boycot).

At the end of the day, a book sold on Amazon is a book sold.

And while you are placing an order for Something Worth Living For, consider checking out A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, written by Lee’s wife Sarah. He’d probably be happy even if you bought it from Amazon.

What’s Next after The Book?

Previous posts have left some asking, “So what is this NEXT BOOK of which you speak?”

I’m glad you asked.

I’ve considered several ideas for books and sketched out a couple. One, though, has actually been written (previously mentioned here). It is a memoir of my stumbling into being a pastor. It is a story with many delights and dark shadows. That I once told my wife that I would never be a pastor is a fun story, and there is delight in telling of the people whom God used to shape my direction. But for the story to be true, I need to explore the shadows. My theology was precariously moored and easily hijacked. My character, tending too easily toward anger and a need to please, was a struggle too easily downplayed.

The subtitle undergoes frequent revision.

So yes – delight and shadows. Both most be told if the story is to be true, and I want this one to be true. Pastoral memoirs, in my experience, too easily detail the right and minimize the wrong. Both must be shown if we are to see the hand of a faithful God through it all.

The resulting self-portrait is not particularly flattering. That is okay, though, for the real story is one of a remarkable work of God’s kindness. He pulled the curtains back, exposing the darkness in the shadows. He showed me a way and led me into a much better place. That is the story I really want to tell.

I’ve titled the book A Reformed Pastor. One can read various connotations into that title and I invite you to do so. I am reformed in more ways than one. To see how God has done this in my life is not a story just for other pastors.

It feels pretentious to write a book about myself. Mary Karr is quoted as saying somewhere that when she was a child, she read books so she would not feel so alone. I’ve written this one so that others would not feel alone.

I began writing this memoir nearly five years ago in a four hundred page burst. After shortening it to a more realistic three hundred pages, I laid it aside to work on what became Something Worth Living For. As that is poised to debut, I’ve returned my attention here.

There are people out there, I suppose, with pristinely organized minds who can get stuff from their head onto paper pretty much ready to be seen by a broader world. That is not me. Revision is my friend. Each revision forces me to think more carefully about what I need to say about my life. Each revision I hate just a little bit less than the one that came before. And so, after seven such revisions – I am not a writer easily satisfied – it stands at a new and hopefully improved 76,000 words.

Soon I’ll declare this book finished and will begin the search for an agent or publisher willing to run with it. If it gets published, that will be a wonder. But my life has been full of such wonders. The publication of Something Worth Living For is but one, and so I am encouraged to try. James Montgomery Boice in 2000, speaking of the sovereignty of God in the light of his cancer diagnosis, asked a question that has resonated with me ever since. “Who knows what God will do?”

Indeed. Who knows? I will work to get the story out there, and who knows what God will do. If the book comes to be, maybe others might no longer feel so much alone.

Five Ways to Help Birth Book #2

As I mentioned in my last post, with most of my work on Something Worth Living For complete, I now find myself a marketeer

And for this, I need your help. Seriously.

Of course, I need your help getting Something Worth Living For into the hands of those it is intended to help. Earlier this year I shared a portion of the book with a young woman in her early twenties who later wrote me, “I’ve wanted to weep reading because the tone is so gentle, loving and pastoral” and “I didn’t think it was possible to have a theologically conservative document that wasn’t blatantly polemic.” I believe there are others like her. If the book sells well by finding its way into the hands of such people, then I will be grateful. You can help see that that happens.

But I have other motives for wanting sales to be good. Good sales mean a larger platform, and a larger platform increases the possibility that there might be another book.

Publishers need authors to help promote books more than they did in the past. Sales outlets have declined and self-publishing has mushroomed. Publishers must now depend more heavily on an author’s ability to sell his book.

This is done through an author’s network — his ‘platform.’ For some Christian authors, a large, visible ministry generates an automatic platform. For others, good looks and charm go a long way toward attracting a following. And of course, controversy always helps. Being a combatant in an online fight is guaranteed to gain one followers.

But being “a parson, sober and rather dull, no doubt,” (my favored descriptor from Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country) and therefore lacking the above, I need much help from you, my current readers and friends. What kind of help? Consider the following:

1) Subscribe to this blog

To the right of this post is a widget inviting you to ‘subscribe.’ Doing so is painless and only means that a notice of each blog post will show up in your inbox. This helps me put a number to those who have some interest in what I write, and publishers like numbers.

2) Buy The book

This is obvious, I suppose, but after receiving and reading it, then . . .

3) Post reviews on Amazon.

No matter where you buy the book, reviews on Amazon have a long-lasting impact. Posting a review quickly after the book is released boosts its presence and hence its sales. Again, numbers matter.

4) Promote The book

Use your networks. Tell people about it on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. For ease, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and re-post my posts.

5) Encourage reviews of The book

If you have a favorite blogger or source of book news, encourage them to review the book, or tell me who they are, and I’ll encourage them to do so.


Gideon chased an army with three-hundred men and some pots and torches. My motives are far less ambitious. I simply need to stir up sufficient notice for an agent or publisher to ask, “What else do you have?” To this end your help is greatly needed, and appreciated.

What’s Up with The Book?

Several times recently I’ve been asked, “What’s going on with The Book?”

The question brings a huge smile to my face (behind my mask, of course) and places the asker in danger of having to listen to me talk far beyond where he or she intended.

Yes, The Book, Something Worth Living For: God, the World, Yourself, and the Shorter Catechism, is still in process. The fact that I keep capitalizing The Book shows what a big deal this is for me. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read about it here.)

I was pleased in January to have finished something I had set out a couple of years before to do. To then have a publisher (Christian Focus Publications or CFP) agree to invest its own resources into perfecting, printing, and distributing it was, while deeply desired, surreal.

Since then, I’ve worked through the text two or three times. I first significantly reworked the manuscript for initial submission to CFP. Then an editor went through it with me, bringing better order, and a more personal feel, to the whole. Family references became specific. ‘My daughter,’ for example, became ‘Jerusha’ and ‘my wife’ became ‘Barb.’ Then, after the manuscript passed through two CFP proofreaders, Barb and I read through the whole and submitted to CFP 14 pages of suggested corrections and changes. Through it all Christian Focus has been wonderful to work with.

Meanwhile, both I and CFP sought endorsements. I have been moved simply by the fact that people would be willing to read it with an eye toward lending support. Words like ‘thoughtfully applied’ (Mark Johnston / Bethel Presbyterian Church, Wales), ‘centered in Christ and the gospel of saving and transforming grace’ (Mark Dalbey / Covenant Seminary, St. Louis), and ‘pastoral entryway to Christianity’ (Michael Allen / Reformed Seminary, Orlando) touch upon the heart I sought to bring to this. That others sensed that is gratifying. So are words like ‘highly recommended’ (Craig Carter / Tyndale University, Toronto), ‘important work’ (Ray Cortese / Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church, Florida), and ‘a welcome tool’ (Michael Haykin / Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville).

Though we are told metaphorically to never judge a book by its cover, we all do. My kids weighed in (heavily!) on CFP’s first proposal. In the end, the publisher has dressed The Book nicely, preparing it to be seen in public

And public it is becoming. Sites like Amazon and other retailers now list the book, albeit with some missing and inaccurate info (soon to be corrected). Some have already pre-ordered it. (Hint, hint . . . .)

Having signed off on the cover (proudly accompanying this post) and the manuscript, I am now mostly a spectator as The Book heads off to the printer to prepare for its November release.

And so I must transition from author to marketeer. I am writing articles for another blog (not this one!) and plotting ways to help the book get noticed. Shortly I’ll loop you readers into how you can help, for your help I will need.

Thanks for your interest and encouragement.

I’m still smiling. Behind my mask.

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