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Guest post and giveaway: Mark Mustian

September 13, 2011

I’m thrilled to welcome Mark Mustian here to celebrate the paperback release of his book, The Gendarme.  I asked him about his oddest experience touring for his book and I laughed as I read his answer.  I think you’ll enjoy his guest post.

I’ve had some weird book signings. At one a while back I was placed at a table at a mall chain store’s entrance, patrons having to veer around me to enter, with much resultant awkwardness and lack of eye contact. At another chain event, poorly advertised, the trying-to-be-helpful sales person announced on the store intercom every few minutes in a booming, happy voice, “Please welcome Mark Mustian!”, whereupon I sold zero books and encountered persons I can only describe as suffering from severe mental illness. But no matter. As any experienced book signer knows, you can rarely tell how many will show up and why, and so you have to roll with it, more or less. Still, you learn from your mistakes. Below is one. Now I know.

A red flag should have arisen, at least more than it did, when a week or so before this particular event, a friend who entered the bookstore hoping to buy a copy of my book was told, “The author brings the books”. This precipitated a flurry of calls on my part to The Gendarme’s publicity folks, who claimed the bookstore owner was crazy, and some vast miscommunication had been made, but that I would have to “roll with it”. (See above). I brought my own books.

The subject bookstore was (is) located on the main downtown thoroughfare in a medium-sized southern city. The date suggested for the signing corresponded with a downtown Friday evening event, promising larger crowds than what otherwise might be forthcoming. I dutifully notified all friends, acquaintances and family within a surrounding hundred-mile area, showed up early with my books and a nice placard with the jacket cover, and inquired as to how the bookstore owner preferred to conduct said event. She—a large, bespectacled woman with a Labrador retriever as her assistant—directed me to a back room where I could procure a card table which I could “set up out front”. “They start rolling in about five,” she said, and I envisioned hordes of ravenous book lovers, perhaps knowledgeable of my fame and brilliance, and if not that at least of my celebrated book.

My friends and family showed (God bless them). Abandoning the table out front—which reminded me a bit of the mall event—I spoke with them inside, in the comfort of air-conditioning and quietness. But after a while they departed. I went back outside. A small crowd was gathering, people streaming down the street, a rock and roll band throbbing somewhere. I noticed what seemed to be a preponderance of motorcycles, and people with huge mugs of beer. There also seemed to be, and I say this only observationally, as an author, a shortage of teeth among the attendees. Still, I sat at my table. Should I hawk my books? Yell out at the beer-swiggers and rock-and-rollers and sell them literature? A late-arriving friend suggested I offer doo-rags with each sale. Someone asked “What’s a gin-darme?” Someone else inquired—and I swear this is true—if the book had many pictures.

Now I’ve nothing against motorcycle riders or beer drinkers or people with few teeth. But I soon came to the conclusion that few are buyers of hardback books. I went back to the proprietor. “How do your authors generally do at these?” I asked. She shrugged. “Some do fine, some don’t,” she said dismissively. Even the Labrador turned away. I shrugged and boxed up my things. In settling up, she offered me only my author’s discount price of the books she had sold.

Returning gratefully to my car, I exited the beer and crowd and rock music. It was only later that I determined that she’d shorted me three books.

Thanks to Penguin, I have one paperback copy of The Gendarme to give away.  To enter to win THE GENDARME by Mark Mustian, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open for those with a US mailing address only.  I will use to determine the winner. Contest ends at midnight EST Thursday, September 22, 2011.   Winners will be announced on Friday, September 23, 2011.  Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2011 5:42 am

    Unfortunate experiences. I suspect he won’t be doing many author events again soon.

  2. September 13, 2011 5:58 am

    I already have a copy of this to read. That is a terrible way to conduct business, nevermind a signing. I really liked this part of his guest post: “Yell out at the beer-swiggers and rock-and-rollers and sell them literature?” I would have loved to have seen that!

  3. September 13, 2011 6:30 am

    Ha!!! Poor Mark. Reason #56 for why I’m happier on the editor side of the manuscript!. No need to enter me, since I have a copy :).

    For those doing the Amy Einhorn Perpetual Challenge — here’s a chance to pick up a great title!

  4. September 13, 2011 6:40 am

    This was a great story. Loved reading this interview as well.

  5. September 13, 2011 7:10 am

    Oh, boy that sounds very uncomfortable. Great post!

  6. September 13, 2011 7:15 am

    I love him. He was at my Moveable Feast table last year at SIBA and he is the most humble guy you will meet. I wanted to take him home. This little story he shared is just like him. Poor guy! Makes me wish I could have come, with all my teeth, a bra, and my credit card, and buy all of his books.

  7. September 13, 2011 7:18 am

    I actually feel pretty outrageous. I guess this is just one bad experience among many good ones, but what a crazy bookstore owner! I’ve had a few less-than-proud experiences in bookstores, so it makes me very sad about these events. I hope Mark has had better success in bookstores since.

  8. September 13, 2011 7:40 am

    I laughed as well – what an awful experience that must have been for him! Poor guy. I hope his subsequent book signings have been better.

  9. September 13, 2011 7:41 am

    What an arresting title and eye catching cover!

  10. September 13, 2011 9:27 am

    I laughed out loud at Mark Mustian;s guest post. He obviously has a very good sense of humor. He’s had some eyebrow-raising experiences with book signings! The last one with the motorcycle riders and teethless people is too funny. I especially love the question about if the book has pictures!
    I’m surprised the book-seller wasn’t friendlier or more helpful. I wonder if the publisher works with that store much?

    Thank you for a terrific post and the giveaway, Kathy & Mark!

  11. September 13, 2011 9:41 am

    Very funny guy. I once had half a table at a local authors’ signing at B&N. One, and only one, person was interested in me. She was writing a book and wanted advice. It was one of the most humiliating events of my life.

  12. September 13, 2011 9:47 am

    Such a fun post! I so often think about that, when at a book festival signing area I see one person (usually a “famous” person) with a huge line, and everyone else just sitting there. I always go up to the people just sitting there, just to say hi if nothing else! :–) I remember after I had read the ARC for Beat the Reaper, Josh Bazell came to the Tucson Book Festival, and I went to hear him. I think the actual book hadn’t been published yet. Well, it was me, two others, and the rest were his family members! (This past year he drew a much bigger crowd!) It never hurts to count on good old family members! :–) (I didn’t check to see how many teeth they had, but one of the people was his grandma, so you never know!)

  13. September 13, 2011 9:47 am

    I can only imagine how hard some of these book events can be. But what good stories they become in the telling after! I enjoy attending book signings and hope to get to more of them.

  14. September 13, 2011 10:55 am

    Oh my, the way he rendered this tale was like a perfectly written little short story itself! I think I would have probably gone bonkers both times, but I give him the credit for being open and eager enough to do things like this. I need to make time to read the book very soon! Fantastic guest post, Kathy!

  15. September 13, 2011 12:22 pm

    Poor guy. But that’s really a funny story.

  16. September 13, 2011 12:54 pm

    I laughed through most of the interview. He’s a delightful author. I have read the book. Remember really enjoying it. I think it was an ARC. I still have it.

  17. September 13, 2011 1:30 pm

    I did laugh but I am so disgusted and can’t believe what authors have to put up with, sigh.

    Great post, loved every word of that. Missing teeth, lol, seriously in the wrong place.

  18. September 13, 2011 2:12 pm

    Maybe the life of an author isn’t so glamorous. I’d still like to give it a try. I love the cover on this book. The girl’s eyes are piercing.

  19. September 13, 2011 3:02 pm

    Fantastic guest post! Loved it! Is it awful that I was surprised by the humor in the guest post after reading the book?

  20. September 13, 2011 3:19 pm

    Hahaha oh DEAR! While it’s pretty amusing, I’m not sure I’d jump into his shoes anytime soon.

  21. September 13, 2011 3:31 pm

    Awesome post!!!

  22. September 13, 2011 3:39 pm

    Wow! Tha’s all I can say, Wow!

  23. September 13, 2011 4:13 pm

    This is one of the books I’ve had on my TBR stack since it was released and still haven’t gotten to. Shame on me, I need to move it to the top. With such a serious book, who knew he would be so hilarious?

  24. September 13, 2011 6:14 pm

    what a great guest post! i never thought of asking an author what his or her strangest moment at a book signing would be.

  25. September 13, 2011 8:33 pm

    We never get authors this far north so I cringed when I read this post!! I would love to have met this author and I have all my teeth!! 😀

  26. September 13, 2011 10:38 pm

    This post was too funny! I try to stop by and say hi, especially when authors are alone at a signing!

  27. September 13, 2011 11:17 pm

    Kathy, thanks for hosting this giveaway. I’ll post this in mu blog’s side bar. It sounds as if this author was not signing books in the right location.

  28. September 14, 2011 1:47 am

    All I can say to that book signing experience is… Yikes!

  29. September 14, 2011 5:36 am

    What a fiasco with the beer guzzlers but even more the book store woman sounded quite lost. Heart goes out to Mark who lived to tell another delightful rendering of his every day life. Fingers crossed for future book signings with new fanfare to regal his readers with 😉

  30. September 14, 2011 11:45 am

    Eeek — sounds awful! (But hilarious to hear about — sorry, Mark!). Thank you for the giveaway — I’ve wanted to read this one for forever and a day.

  31. September 14, 2011 8:19 pm

    I can’t imagine a bookseller/proprietor directing the author to set up his own card table (and bring his own books)! Mark gives “roll with it” a whole new attitude!

    I really enjoyed THE GENDARME, I imagine more book groups will read/discuss it now, with the paperback release.

  32. September 18, 2011 10:58 am

    Ha! What was that bookstore owner thinking? Or was she thinking at all?! It’s good to know that Mr. Mustian not only knows how to roll with it, but that he has a great sense of humor as well!. But more seriously, I’m looking forward to read The Gendarme – it’s been on my wish list for a while and I really appreciate the chance to win a copy.

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