In my vast experience (yeah right), booksignings are an activity best done in pairs or groups. I never wanted to be that lonely author sitting at a table in the middle of the bookstore, endlessly re-arranging stacks of books and bookmarks, praying for even one person to approach.
Signing with at least one other author can make it less intimidating for you, and for those readers who might want to check things out without feeling trapped by someone trying to sell them something. Two authors means no commitment—at least not right away.
My other suggestions:
1. Bring chocolate. Or some other tasty bribe to coax people to the table.
2. Smile. Even if you’re horribly nervous. The customers are nervous, too, believe it or not.
3. Stand in front of the table every once in a while and hand out bookmarks or first chapter samples to passersby. They can check out your offering when they’re safely behind the stacks. I’ve had people return to chat afterward, so I know this works.
4. Be friendly and engaged. Ask those who stop by what they enjoy reading and then find a tie to your book, if there is one. Have a one-line blurb of your book ready when someone asks: “What’s it about?” Because someone will ask that question, guaranteed.
5. Bring a big poster of your cover. If it’s allowed, hang the poster near or on your table to help people decide if your book is interesting to them.
Did anyone see the interview JK Rowling did with Oprah? She mentioned she had a signing in New York where people were lined up around the block and she had to stop after signing 2000 books. Wow. Talk about hand cramps.
We all have to start somewhere, right?