I always hear that at book signings an author shouldn't just huddle behind her signing table with her nose in a book, but should get out and interact with the customers. But what if I'm doing a signing on a day when customer traffic is very slow? I'd feel very uncomfortable stalking the one customer in the store. As a customer, I'd be very uncomfortable if an author were pushing his/her book on me, so I don't want to do that to someone else. How can I make book signings a positive and productive experience, even on the slow days?
As a book reader/buyer myself, I don't like being stalked by an author either. Sometimes I don't go over to an author's table to find out about their book because I don't want to be in that awkward position of not wanting to buy it. I mean, what do you say? "Sorry, I forgot my purse," and hope they don't notice you in the checkout line buying the 4 books you came in to get?
One solution to this is the launch party. This is becoming more and more popular. Remember the release of the last Harry Potter book? Several bookstores in my area had huge midnight parties with treats and games and costume contests, etc.
You don't have to be quite that extravagant, but a party atmosphere is fun for everyone and you don't have to sit there feeling like a loser because no one comes over to talk to you. Check Josi Kilpack's blog for details on having a launch party. Then use your imagination to adapt that to your own book.
Even if your book has been out awhile, if you can make it feel more like a party you can avoid those embarassing moments. Play a game that ties into your plot or have something for the customer to do besides just look at your book. Have a free drawing. Serve cookies. Do a signing with several other authors. If all else fails, have your friends and family come in and pretend to be customers. If people are at the table talking to you, other customers are more likely to come over and listen in.