If you have a book signing/talk at a store and five people show up (a homeless guy, your best friend, and a woman with two kids), is it total waste of your time?
Depends on what you did with the situation. Maybe you drove 200 miles to get to the store and sold only one or two books. That's not fun and you spent more than you made, for sure.
But it's still not necessarily a bust.
Book signings are not just about book sales and/or attendance.
They are also about meeting booksellers and Community Relations Managers (those people who set up such events).
Even if you didn't draw a crowd or sell many books, they may book you again if...you got to know them, helped with the mailing list to promote the event, were polite and pleasant, offered to sign stock, sent promotional materials ahead of time, and let them know you appreciated the work they did on your behalf, no matter the results of those efforts.
Maybe someone in the store will even turn your books face out or write an in-store recommendation and hang it on the shelf in front of your books. Maybe they'll hand-sell it when a customer asks for a recommendation in your genre.
Maybe they'll give you the contact information for a sister store in another city. Or maybe they have recommendations for local places you could contact about teaching a workshop or events where you could sit in on a panel at a conference.
On some events (maybe even a lot) you may lose money and time and patience. But you can still make it a winning situation.
10 hours ago