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The Fame Game

The Fame Game

I recently had two launch parties for my debut novel, Blue Gold. It’s published by Urbane, who recently won best independent UK crime publisher by World Wide Business Review. Two launch parties? Why not, I thought, it’s not often you get published for the first time. It’s about as Rock Star as I’ll ever get.

The first party was at Waterstones Piccadilly. Yes, the big daddy of UK bookstores. Which in itself caused a problem. There are at least three event spaces that are used on any given evening, and despite agreeing with the events manager beforehand which one I would use, they pulled a switch on me at the last minute. Not a problem in itself, except that I had issued very clear instructions to all my party attendees which now told them to go the wrong part of the six-storey building. Oh, and my event space hadn’t been hoovered yet and the person who was going to serve drinks was running late.

So, fifteen minutes before my launch party started, I was bustling around, trying to chivvy along the cleaner, get some hasty poster instructions done to guide my guests to this party, while also talking to an old friend who had turned up early for the party and couldn’t stay for long. Definitely not Rock Star. My plans for world domination (or at least a minor lift in my book sales) were looking decidedly shaky… Thanks to my lovely wife – who did most of the haring around at this point – it all went off fine in the end. Yes, a few guests went to the wrong place at first, but they quickly realised and managed to hunt me out.

It was lovely to see so many friends there from different aspects of my life. One of my writer chums – we were on the Faber Academy novel-writing course together – had her debut novel published at the start of the year. Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land. It’s already a bestseller and is being sold across the world, with the full weight of Penguin’s marketing team behind it. It was fun – if a little envy-inducing – to compare notes in the pub afterwards about the differences in our marketing campaigns. Not that I begrudge Ali her success, she’s a brilliant writer with a distinctive voice.

My second launch party was two days later at Waterstones Windsor. You certainly can’t get lost in this store, although like the first party, there was a definite rush to get the store set-up for my party with only a few minutes to spare. I attend a Sci-Fi and Fantasy reading club every month at this store, so I know the staff well. I knew they were doing this on a Saturday evening as a favour for me, so I was keen to get lots of book sales through their till at least as part recompense.

I was fortunate enough to have an A-list film star come to this party (for his privacy I won’t name him here). I know that sounds unlikely, but he and his wife had moved into the road we live on at Christmas, and while he had been away for most of this year filming we got to know his wife. She was charming and very friendly and so we invited her to my launch party. As luck would have it, he returned from filming just in time and came along to show his support. I couldn’t believe my luck. Where were the journalists, the press photographers, to record this auspicious moment? Anyway, he was charming and I know that he came to my launch party to support me. That’s good enough.

This week, it’s back to real life and trying to market my book. As an author of an indie-published book, I know it’s not going to sell itself. The red carpet will have to wait.

This article was originally a guest post on Helen Hollick’s blog.