I did a signing of Ecologic yesterday at our local Borders. They had done a great job, producing some excellent posters and a brilliant signing position with the sort of display of books you'd normally only expect for a big name. All in all, it was a good experience.
There are two types of book signing. There's the signing by the celebrity author, with a queue of people out the door, and there's the signing by the ordinary author like me, where most of the time there's no one at your table.
One of my customers (yes, I did have some) asked me if it wasn't dispiriting sitting there on my own with no one coming up. In fact, it wasn't. (Or at least it wasn't for me.) It had a rather similar appeal to that I'm told fishing has for many. It was a chance to sit and contemplate, to watch the world go by. I sat there for four hours, and it really was fascinating, just watching what people do in a bookshop.
But there were more parallels than that. I started spotting the likely candidates for buyers. I'd try to entice them with a smile. (Women smile back a lot more.) If they came and studied the display I'd say 'hello'. Sometimes this was totally ignored but if I got a response I'd then try to open it into a conversation. It really was like fly fishing, delicately trying to get the link in place without losing the fish.
I don't say this to insult the people who bought my book. They were all extremely intelligent, excellent people. But rather to draw a parallel with the experience.