This is where the real fun begins!
Book signings are great fun but be prepared to do some preparation. You can't just hang up a sign the day of your event and expect it to be successful. Remember the 5 P's. “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” This holds true in all parts of life, especially when putting something like this together.
A few steps are critical. First and foremost, remember, you are a guest. Don't demand anything. Let the proprietor know your needs, but they have the final say. Some business owners feel, justly or unjustly, that anyone who comes into their business who is not a direct customer of theirs, is an inconvenience. DO NOT be that inconvenience. Be a gracious guest and they are far more likely to be that gracious host you are looking to partner with.
Next, ask the business owner or manager how YOU can help them. This is their livelihood you are asking to interrupt. Give them any fliers or literature they may find helpful and take it down for them immediately after the book signing unless they want to keep it.
BRING A CROWD!! I can't emphasize this enough. Bringing some extra customers to their place of business goes a long way to making you welcome then and in the future. Even if it is only a few people that show up, make sure you invite everyone you can think of, even if you don't think they will come. They might surprise you.
Make sure you have enough books! You don't want to run out of inventory. Unless you are extremely well known, 30-40 copies will be sufficient, but have extras just in case. It's easier to go to the car and get some extras out of the trunk than it is to tell someone, they will have to wait for their signed copy.
Make sure you select a venue that works for your genre. Two things will come from this. First, you are more likely to get permission to hold your event. Next, you are more likely to be successful. For example, I don't think my westerns would be as well received at a high society tearoom as they are at a western cafe or coffee shop. However, a romance novel would be far better received at the tearoom that at a rodeo.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS thank your host. A handwritten card to them by name goes a long way. Remember, you're an author, so writing a heartfelt thank you should be easy.
As always, thank you and God bless.
Author of Lone Oak, Vengeance Is Mine and several short stories with more on the way.