I dropped by the Free Library of Philadelphia Book Festival twice this weekend, once out of idle curiosity and once to see Jane Yolen, who was one of the guests. Jane (above) was promoting Foiled, her first Manga, illo'd by Mike Cavallaro, who also spoke. It was a very pleasant talk and afterwards I stood in line to buy a copy of the first issue.
Earlier, though, Marianne and I were talking with Kyle Cassidy and Trillian Stars when Kyle glanced over at the Children's Book Signing Tent and said, "That's sad." He was referring to an author sitting glumly behind a stack of books with nobody at all coming up to get an autograph.
This happens. It happens all the time. And it has nothing at all to do with whether you're a good writer or not. It's happened to me. I've seen it happen to Samuel R. Delany. It can happen to anybody.
But the incident put me in mind of the single best piece of advice an unpublished writer can hear. Which is: While you're still unpublished, go to every appearance, reading, and signing by people you know are good writers, and take careful note of how they're treated.
Just so that when it happens to you, you don't cut your throat afterwards.