Some ten years ago I was asked to sign books for the publisher at the giant Book Expo (that year held in Denver). The publisher agreed to pay for my hotel accommodations, though I did go broke on airfare and expenses getting there. Still, it was an experience . . . much like having a root canal.
The day I signed copies of my book, I was paired in the booth with a celebrity whose best-seller was near the zenith of the charts, and the line at our table snaked all the way to Boulder and back. When people got in the line they eventually received both a copy of my book and the celebrity's book. Of course, people didn't really want my book. They would step up, see me, and ask, "Who are you?"
It was fun watching people react to the celebrity. I saw men getting angry when they had to shake my hand instead of the celebrity's. Women swooned at the thought of touching the celebrity's body. Many acted as though they were old friends and could hardly wait to have dinner (what are you doing after the signing?).
I offered to have dinner with some of these people (since they offered to buy) but most of them just scowled and walked away to get in line again. Just the thought of having another crack at the celebrity was enough to get most people to return to the four-hour long line. I pointed out they didn't have to wait to get a signed copy of my book. No one was amused. And I actually wrote my book, while the celebrity's book was written by a ghost writer. The celebrity, of course, had fake chutzpah, but couldn't write a coherent sentence to save his tanned little hide.
When it was all over I did have writer's cramp. I was signing books so quickly the two hours went by in a blur. The celebrity sidled up next to me and said, "I'm outta here!", as if he had just completed the most grueling two hours of his life and had to get back to his suite to take a bath and wash off the commoner scum.
Me? I walked around the Expo and took mental notes on the nuances of humanity, watching and listening to people (that's how writers learn to write dialogue!!). I breathed the thin air. Later, realizing that the publisher was paying for my room, I checked in and ordered a drink and a can of macadamia nuts from room service.
Gotta get something out of the publisher. They weren't paying royalties. But I enjoyed every one of those nuts.