There were a few things that were recommended to me by others that I found to be a total waste of time:
How were you able to book so many book signings year after year?
I am pleased to say I have a very good reputation as an author and promoter in the Edmonton area. Some store managers have said I'm the only local author who really sells much; some have said I'm their favorite (even though they shouldn't have favorites); and some have said I am one of few authors that comes prepared to sell and then does it; and one local store only allowed me to sign books, no other authors. I think that all of this says a lot. I've worked hard to create good relationships with store staff and to be an author that requires little work on their part.
My first signings were done professionally from the start. I had bookmarks and business cards made, a table cloth, posters for some of the stores (those that would put them up), and I invited everyone I knew. Very few of my invitees showed up, which left me with the regular customers. The very first signing taught me that, outside of a book launch party, I could not rely on those I invited, and that everyone who walked through the doors were MY customers, my invitees--whether they knew it or not. That is how I look at every signing. I don't need a lineup as soon as I get there. That would be icing, but the real cake are the hundreds of people who walk through the doors during the time I'm there. In my mind, they're there to meet me, learn more about my books and buy some. lol
I also consider myself an extension of every store I'm in. For those 3 or 4 hours I am part of the staff (again, in my mind), so I welcome people to the store, help them if I can, plus tell them why I'm there. If I am at a table near the doors, I prefer to be the only "staff" there so that I'm not fighting to catch the attention of customers with some poor girl handing out coupons. I become the greeter, and if I can I'll hand out the coupons myself, tell them of any specials and show them my books. I find this approach works best for all. Customers don't get mobbed, the real staff can walk the floors, and I get to do what I love--meet people and talk about my books. :)
It is because of what I do at a signing and how I do it that I am asked by managers to come back and do more signings. Some have called me to find out when I'm coming back. I'm usually one of the first authors they'll call if they're having a huge event too. I believe that's because they know I'm genuine around people, I consistently sell books, and I'm easy to work with. All I need is a table near the entrance, a comfortable chair and my books.
Tip: The best time for book signings is October to December. Christmas shoppers are looking for affordable gifts, espeically now.
I've written a couple of articles on book signings:
What are the specific first steps in getting booked at a bookstore?