You know how it is when you’re months away from publication – a launch party seems like a must-have accessory for your forthcoming book. Good friends and acquaintances, glasses pleasingly filled with Prosecco, gathered around welcoming your book to the world. Depending on the kind of author you are, there could be laughter or there could be a lot of intense discussion around the existential themes of your work. I suppose there could be both. Your editor talks at length about your brilliance without so much as a hint of irony or gritted teeth. In an ideal world, a semi-clothed Ryan Gosling would burst from a cake and serenade you (but that might just be me). And everyone will buy a book, which you’ll sign with a carefree flourish and not a trace of cramp.
Time passes and suddenly it’s the week before your book comes out. You’re in a tailspin trying to get everything done and belatedly, it occurs to you that you need to book a party venue and possibly order some drinks. An avalanche of anxiety tumbles down from Mount Paranoia – how much wine do you need? Is twelve bottles enough? What if no-one comes? And does it matter if they do? What do launch parties actually do? WHY ARE YOU EVEN BOTHERING?
Tomorrow is the day of my launch party for Completely Cassidy: Accidental Genius. It’s a book that has taken a long time to arrive, for one reason or another, so I wanted to celebrate the fact that it had made it into being – an actual book that I can hold in my hands and stroke. Hence the party. To be honest, I don’t think there was any chance that I wouldn’t have a party. I don’t expect it to sell oodles of books (although a few would be nice). I don’t expect it to make the society pages (or any pages, really, unless someone kindly blogs about it). What I do expect is to laugh and catch up with people I don’t see very often and wear an Elvis wig while drinking a sherbert cocktail. I want to take a few hours to contemplate the fact that my publisher and my agent and I did a good thing – we made a book that readers will enjoy.
There are arguments for and against launch parties but I think if you decide to have one, then do it for the right reasons – to celebrate getting your book out there. Then if anything else comes out of it, it'll be the icing on the Ryan Gosling cake.
NB To anyone coming to my launch party, I have booked a venue and there will be drink. Honestly.