I read this the other day on my Classic Dave Barry Tear Off Calendar. This will resonate with any authors who have suffered through the humiliation of a less than stellar book signing:
The way a book signing is supposed to work is: You sit at a table, people come up with books they've purchased, and you sign them. Except that sometimes nobody buys your book. This is Author Hell. You sit there, at your little table, and people stare at you as they walk past, or ask you where the astrology books are. Or sometimes they pick up your book, examine it, and and then put it down as if its a piece of goat dung. After a while, the bookstore employees, feeling sorry for you, start lying. "Don't feel bad!" the say. "We had Madonna in here last week, and nobody came to see her, either!"
To Dave Barry's most accurate portrayal of Author Hell I would add one other issue - you are trapped at your table and thus considered fair game for every wacko who wants to expound on his political positions. I have a new policy. I will cut them off after the first sentence and ask, "Are you going to buy a book?" (they never do). Then I explain I will only listen to political rants if the rantee can first produce a copy of one of my books along with a receipt or some other proof of purchase.