I love being an independently-published author. Choosing to go this route has afforded me the privilege of writing without worrying about deadlines, my books will never be "back-listed," I get paid a higher per-book royalty than most traditionally-published authors, and most of all, I can market and promote my work in any way I wish. Although I love to do personal speaking appearances, one of my favorite ways to promote is still the good old book store signing.
Even in the age of e-books, throngs of people can still be found lingering among the shelves of a book store on any given day. There is just something about the atmosphere that draws them in (not to mention a good cup of coffee at the store cafe!). Whether you gravitate toward the larger brick-and-mortar chains or the quaint neighborhood shop, you can have a successful book store experience by following these tips:
1) Schedule the event on a day/time that the store will have the most traffic.
Saturday afternoons are usually a safe bet, in most cases. If you can
schedule during or close to another store event, even better!
2) Get to know the store manager or signing coordinator. Get a full name, phone number, and email address for that person so you can keep in contact. Make sure they "know" you as well by sending them a media kit.
3) Ask the manager/coordinator what kind of and how much publicity they will be doing for the event. Don't be afraid to make suggestions. You may suggest something they never thought of doing! Also ask what they need from you in order to better promote the event.
4) Send or drop off posters and/or something they can pass out with your info prior to the event.
5) Do your own publicity--word-of-mouth, website, blog, Facebook, etc. Let people know you will be there. DO NOT leave publicity solely up to the store--the books are yours, not theirs!
6) At the event, don't sit at your table. Get up, move around, and greet patrons. Tell them about your work and invite them to check it out. Smile and be friendly.
7) If the patron isn't interested for him/herself, ask who they might know who would like an autographed book. Remember gift giving occasions like birthdays, etc.
8) Don't be pushy--if they are interested, great. If not, give them your info for future reference. They may want to buy later. Thank them for looking.
9) Dress and act professionally. People may not judge a book by its cover, but they DO judge the author that way! Sad to say, but true.
10) After the signing, thank the manager/coordinator personally, and offer to sign a few copies for them to keep in the store. Follow up with a handwritten thank-you note within a few days.
I hope these tips will be helpful to you, and would love to hear anything else you have done to make your signings successful!