When I started out writing, I dreamed of many things. Award acceptance speeches. Being on Richard and Judy. Seeing someone read my book on the tube (hopefully not going ‘this is a god-awful pile of tripe’). Last Friday I saw the book in a shop, on a shelf, in WH Smith’s. ‘I wrote that!’ I said to the nice man behind the counter. ‘Oh,’ he said, as he scanned in cut-price chocolate bars. ‘That’s nice.’
And, of course, the book launch.
Until this year, my experience of The Book Launch was limited to Bridget Jones. I thought this was how launches were. How I dreamed of asking Salman Rushdie if he knew where the toilet was, and someone introducing me by shouting ‘Oi!’ into a microphone. Now, my book launch is tomorrow. In fact I should be thinking of what to say instead of writing this. But I’m not worried. I will just follow the rules of parties, as espoused by the aforementioned Bridget.
- First, look gorgeous. CHECK. Got my dress ordered ages ago. Got my hair appointment booked. POTENTIAL RISKS: having to wear wellies as unable to walk over ice and snow in high heels, as unable to walk in high heels at the best of times.
- Totally ignore Daniel and suck up to famous authors: CHECK. I don’t think anyone called Daniel is coming so that should be fine. Maybe a Danny. POTENTIAL RISKS: I’m not very good at talking to people I admire. I have a tendency to wave my hands a lot, sometimes sloshing wine all over them, and tell them stories about how I first came to read their book, until they start nervously eyeing over my shoulder. Or else I get so starstruck I just stand behind them pointing.
- Circulate, oozing intelligence: ‘Did you read this week’s Heat magazine? What’s your take on 2012 as the year of the celebrity marriage apocalypse? I’m just so gutted about Seal and Heidi.’ Er….maybe not. Is there still something going on in Chechnya?
- Introduce people with helpful details. This is where my encyclopaedic knowledge of other people’s ages, previous jobs, and bibliography will truly come into its own. It’s a useful side effect of constantly comparing yourself to other people.
But really none of these things matter. Maybe I’ll invent my own personal party rules. Feel free to quote me.
- Try not to get too drunk. You’re aiming for drunk enough that you feel relaxed and confident (anywhere between no drinks and twenty drinks, depending on the person), but not so drunk you can’t remember entire conversations. Apart from anything else, it is a waste of valuable networking time.
- Try to make one more friend than you had before.
- Always wear shoes you can run for a train in.
- Always remember the time of the last train. Tattoo it on your head if needs be.
- The ideal after-party feeling is 10% sheepishness, 20% glad someone else was more embarrassing than you, 10% useful networking, and 60% fun/hangover.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully something like this.