It never happens, but HCI (one of my publishers) was able to get The Ultimate Christian Living published and distributed nearly three weeks before March 1, when the book was to be distributed nationally to bookstores. Last week I received a call from one of the marketing gurus who had set up a booksigning for me. But I said, "I know where that bookstore is. I'll walk in, talk to the manager, and make sure everything is arranged."
The conversation went something like this . . . .
Me: Hi, my name is Todd Outcalt, I live in Brownsburg, and I'm a pastor and author of the book The Ultimate Christian Living. You have the book on your shelves and ________ had called you to set up a book signing. So I thought I would drop by and introduce myself.
Manager (all of twenty-five years old with pained facial expression): Who are you again? What are you selling?
Me: I'm not selling anything. I wrote this book (handing manager a copy which I have pulled from the bookstore shelves). I'm dropping by to introduce myself and check on the signing date you had set up with ________.
Manager of BOOKSTORE (ignoring book): Who are you again?
Me (pointing to my name on the book cover): That's me. I'm the author. I think you had talked with _________ about a book signing in March?
Manager: Who? What's this about? We don't do book signings unless they are set up by a publisher! You'll have to call corporate if you want us to carry a self-published book.
Me: No, this isn't a self published book. That's why I'm dropping by. My publisher called you this past week. And since I live nearby I thought I would stop in and introduce myself before the signing date.
Manager: Which publisher are you talking about?
Me (again pointing to the book which the manager is holding IN HER HAND . . . and I swear to Joseph I'm still talking nicely to this woman): This publisher right here. This is the book I'm talking about. It's on your shelves. I just pulled this copy so you could see what I'm talking about.
Manager: Where did you get this?
Me: Off of your shelves. Right back there. That's the publisher. That's the book we're talking about. That's my name on the cover.
Manager (looking peeved, incredulous, too busy to discuss a book signing which she has already arranged): I'm going to have to check on this. We only have one book signing set up in March.
Me: Could you check on that book title and the author?
Manager (still looking peeved, walks SLOWLY over to the computer and punches keys): We have a signing for The Ultimate Christian Living in March.
Me: That's me. That's the book you're holding!
Manager (finally looks at the book she is holding): Who are you again?
Me: Todd Outcalt. That's my name on the cover. (I realize I will need to hand her a business card to prove my identity! I hand her a dog-eared card out of my wallet.)
Manager: Oh, so you're saying you're the author! Okay. Yes, we have you in the system.
Me (wishing to God I had a black pill to take so I could put myself out of my misery . . . wishing I could walk in front of a moving bus . . . wishing that I could some day meet a book store manager who enjoyed books and appreciates authors.) See you soon!
Manager: By the way, how do you pronounce your name?