I've done a number of in-person book signings and I've also helped many author friends with theirs. Here are some things to keep in mind.
First, for each bookstore near you, check their website to see if they offer book signings. Contact the person in charge of the process. Treat this first contact as seriously as any query letter. You are making a first impression which will define you as a professional author. Explain in clear, vibrant words what your book is about. Present your background as a local author. Keep in mind that the bookstore wants to sell books. You need to make a compelling case about how your presence there will move inventory.
If you present that case well, then a negotiation begins for a date and time. Aim for a combination which will have the most people in the store. Probably 9am on a Tuesday morning is less than ideal in most cases. Usually midday on a weekend is best, when most people don't have to work.
The bookstore should promote you in their fliers and social media but it is YOUR responsibility as the author to do the heavy lifting. Use every list you have access to. Plug them repeatedly. Talk to the press about your upcoming signing. Get the word out there.
On the day of the signing, arrive early. Bring at least twenty books as well as any giveaways you have available - pens, pencils, and the like. Absolutely have a stack of business cards.
When you are there, don't talk with your friends! I know it's tempting to do. Instead, make sure you look at the CUSTOMERS who come by. Make eye contact with them. Say hello. Draw them in. Show them that you are accessible and friendly.
At the end, no matter how many or how few books sell, thank the store for their efforts both in person and on your sites. The good will you build now can serve you well in the future.
From Terrie - Homeschooling Author
One important thing to know about book signings: Unless you bring in your own people or are famous, most people sell only one or two books at a signing. However, the reason you continue to have them is to build a relationship with the staff. If they like you, they give your book better placement and recommend it to others. Also, in the weeks leading up to the signing, they display your book with a poster. Often the book will sell really well during those weeks, even if no one comes to the signing.
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