To buy George R.R. Martin's newest book Dance With Dragons, I drove a half-hour downtown on the day it was released and spent another 20 minutes looking for a parking space, all to get the book at a specific locally owned store: The Tattered Cover. Why? So that I could also get a ticket to Martin's signing at that same store, which happened today.
He started a few minutes late, but not horribly so, and gave a half-hour talk addressing many of the questions he gets asked a lot (such as "Why did it take you so long to write the book?" and "Who's your favorite character?"). I did not get to watch the talk because I was not one of the lucky people in the room with him, but I heard it through a set of speakers.
Then he got with the signing, and this guy is a signing machine. My ticket number was 308, and I was to the front of the line in an hour, had about 10 seconds to say hello while he signed my books, and then he was on to the next person.
I will mention one thing Martin brought up in the talk, which was advice for aspiring writers. He said that the best way to break into the science-fiction and fantasy genres is to start in short stories. Write lots and lots of short stories. Experiment. Get better. Make some sales to the pro magazines. Then write your novel. That way, you are not some unknown writer putting out a book; you are an up-and-coming short story writer with (hopefully) a fan base who is releasing a highly anticipated debut novel.
So, according to Mr. Martin, I am on the right track. Me and thousands of other new writers.