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Welcome to the virtual Maya launch party

Posted on 4 February 2010 | 10:02am

Seventeen … the number so far of texts and emails from journalists wanting to know why they haven’t been invited to the launch party for Maya, my new novel published TODAY!!

Three … the number of others asking the same question.

The journalists are likely to think this is because I have so few friends.***(see note at bottom) More likely is that my real friends know I am not a launch party kind of person. And the ‘why haven’t I been invited’ stats comfirm me in my view that book launches tend to be events for the media, rather than events that might help get you good media for the book.

It doesn’t stop them being paranoid about missing something though. The Evening Standard have tried via my agent, my publisher, my charity, my party and my website to find out where this mystery event is being held.

So this morning I thought, let’s put them out of their misery, let’s have the launch party here, online, on the website, on Facebook, on Twitter, wherever people want to hold it. Welcome to the virtual launch.

Here I go, I’m a bit late, a bit edgy but I’m arriving at the launch party … there’s someone from the publishers to meet me, oh God I’ve forgotten her name …

Hi, er … mwah, mwah.

‘Great turnout,’ she says. ‘Gail’s on her way.’

Mmmm. ‘Come on in …’

‘Have you met Cindy from the Times diary?’

‘Lovely cover,’ says Cindy. ‘Is it based on anyone you know? (subtle sexual innuendo in the word know?)

‘Er, no, not really.’

Man sidles up.

‘Hi, I’m from the Telegraph diary … great turnout … can I ask you about the sex scene?’

‘Alastair,’ says publisher person, looking over shoulder of Telegraph man. ‘Gail’s arrived.’ (Gail is uberpublisher, and young publisher person knows who boss is.)

‘Excuse me,’ I say to Telegraph prurient ‘Gail’s arrived.’

Mwah mwah. ‘Thank God you’re here,’ I say (Gail is old friend and knows how much I hate looking-over-shoulder type social events. ‘Just smile and be nice,’ she says. ‘Treat it like the dentist. It’ll soon be over and it won’t hurt when you’re home.’

‘Hey Gail,’ says man, loudly. Gail introduces him to me as visiting exec from US. Makes introduction. No mwah mwah. Manly handshake.

‘Love the cover Alastair,’ he says. ‘Very different to The Blair Years.’

‘Yes, it is. Different sort of book really.’

‘Can I leave you two to it?’ says Gail. ‘Ian’s arrived I think.’

‘What? Where are you going?’

Diarywriteralert beeps in rear of my brain. I turn.

‘Hiiiiiii,’ says pretty twentysomething in skimpy black cocktail dress. ‘Feel a bit overdressed, but going onto another doooo later.’

‘Which diary do you work for?’ I ask, pulling back slightly to avoid having to mwah mwah complete stranger.

‘How did you gueeeeess?’ she asks. ‘Wow, that is amazing.’

‘Kind of instinct. Trained observer you know … comes with writing novels I guess.’ Do my James Bond eyebrow raise.

‘Go on then, which paper, bet you can’t guess that?’

Standard I’d say.’

‘OMG that is unbelievable’ … giggle … flirtatious eye contact … ‘so tell me about Maya? Who is she, that’s what I reeeeally want to know?’

‘Alastair,’ says publisher person ‘do you think we can do some pictures?’

‘Yeah sure … excuse me. Got to do some pictures. You know how it is.’ Skimpy Standard girl does mock hurt. Eyebrow raise turns to wink. Castigate myself for flirting with someone less than half my age

‘Thought you needed rescuing,’ says publisher person.


Freebieloving-scroungeralert beeps in front of mind.

‘Al, how ya doin’ … not seen you since we were on the Mirror doing shifts together. Lot changed since then.’

(Vaguely) ‘Oh yeah. How are you?’

‘Any chance I can get a few signed copies, for old times sake maybe?’

‘Er, not sure what the deal is on getting copies.’

‘Speak to Vicki over there,’ says publisher person. ‘Freebie loving scrounging e-bastard,’ she adds, steering me to the photographer.

‘Do you want to say a few words?’ asks Gail.

‘Do you know what, I think I’d rather tweet’ …

And so I do …. Maya out today. FB/twitterfriends go Waterstone’s and make sure well displayed. Launch party at

Then I do a few mwah mwahs, evade the Mail on the way out (at least the publisher had not let them in) and jump in a cab for home.

Enjoy the book, those who get it.

* Meanwhile, thanks for the messages from those impressed with the quick delivery of The Blair Years. Remember it is 15 quid, with £7.50 going to the Labour party.

*** Need a bit of advice. I understand 5000 friends is the limit on Facebook. I am just short of that and have almost 1,000 outstanding friend requests. I think it looks a bit winky-wanky to set up a fan page, so what do I do?

  • Jane A

    I love the idea of the virtual party & am very pleased to be here. No more what-to-wear stresses either, and the first time I have been to a party at 10am. Very entertained about the James Bond eyebrow raise.

    On your last question it is uber-winky-wanky to have a fan page. Add people in as people drift out. It’s like a different sort of party – the room will only hold so many.

    Good luck with sales; it’s a great book.

  • Mark Hammer

    great canapies, but soooo noisy

  • Pearl Freeman

    Good luck. Big piece in Metro today I see

  • gareth

    where’s the toilet?

  • Em


  • David Banks

    In an equivocal review in the Times you were compared to Iain Banks, and his novel ‘Dead Air’ which is high praise indeed.

    The reviewer took issue with the fact that the reader could not sympathise with the narrator. So that’s Martin Amis’s oeuvre dead in the water then.

    Good luck with the book, not that you’ll need it.

  • olli issakainen

    Have you ever heard of Dunbar´s number? It is limit to number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Commonly cited approximation is 150, not 5,000!

    Ps. I was surprised to read from your Fanhouse UK BFC column that there is not a character called Mr J. Coyle, a sideways career move consultant, in Maya. George Clooney could have played him in the inevitable Oscar winning movie adaptation of Maya starring Keira Knightley.

  • Ela Wiązowska

    It’s great to be at the virtual launch party. Can’t wait to get my copy here in Warsaw(I hope the mail service won’t fail me). Good luck with sales.

  • Gerry

    Looks like I overdressed! What are Ross and Ramsay are giggling about?

  • Em

    FYI, I worked as a bookseller and then a buyer in my salad days and savvy authors would make a beeline for us at launches. It’s true we might have been the only people there who were genuinely happy to be there. We appreciated the free food, free booze, and possessed an actual love for books. We also were the people who could make a real difference with sales. These days a lowly buyer may not decide on the number of initial copies purchased but may have a powerful effect on returns and re-orders over time. And one should not underestimate the power of a book recommendation from a bookseller to a customer. Those recommendations shouldn’t have been influenced by the quality of launches but they were.

    Ben Elton and David Lodge (and others) would come into our bookshop and argue with us about returns of their new releases (after three months) and ask us to justify the number of copies (always too low in their opinion) we’d keep in stock at any given time. i’ve actually sat with a couple of authors and showed them our sales history to explain. I don’t recommend you follow in their footsteps, but it illustrates how well they understood our power.

  • Gerry


  • Ray Merrall

    Hiya Alastair [hand extended for kiss on ring]
    Hateful cartoon p26 Private Eye today.
    Maybe you should have invited them into the “party” along with their new pals from Dacre’s organ.

  • Paula Harrison

    Mwah mwah, lovely do, saw the Metro did nice piece on it – didn’t see her at the party – rushed to Waterstone’s, they said they don’t have book till Saturday! Why are books never in shop when they come out???? Mwah

  • C Burke

    ‘Alastair, this launch party is great! Can you be a doll and get out and turn the hot tub water temp up?’

    Sure, but don’t look’.

  • sara elnusairi

    Hi Alastair. Congratulations on the new book. Set up a fan page. It’s not that ‘winky-wanky’ – it’s not like setting up a fan club or anything. It’s not like you really have over 5,000 friends, anyway ;0) xx

  • Andrew

    Excellent party Alastair, I would have brought nibbles if it wasn’t such a viral campaign. I very much look forward to reading Maya soon.

  • C Burke

    ‘Oh God, Alastair! Put some trunks on at least!. Is Tony coming?’

    ‘That’s ok. Where’s the key bowl?’

  • Alan Quinn

    Sorry I’m late AC, the book launch looks to be going well. The Blair Years arrived today, superb service, faster than the strike of a Diamondback Rattlesnake. Many Thanks.

  • Lou Rossati

    Bugger! Have I missed all the champagne? And where’s the ruddy loo? I’m busting. Anyone seen the man of the hour? Oh, there he is. No, I’m NOT going over to introduce myself. That would be so…winky-wanky. Besides, being terribly British I’ll just wait until someone introduces me to him. Which they probably won’t. Ho hum. Must order the book, and move my signed copy of Blair Years to bedside table with intention of finally reading it.

    Then go home and start a Facebook page, “I bet I can find a million people who want Alistair Campbell’s Facebook friends limit to be raised”.

  • Robert Jackson

    Yes …great party and as well as the buzz about Maya there was the buzz about Grayling being ticked off for comparing apples and elephants.

    Still – quoting Goebbels(sp?) – if the lie is big enough then no one will dare challenge it.

    The problem with this Tory lie is that it HAS been challenged and found wanting. Yet they intend to carry on propagating it as if it has some meaning.

    Arrogant? Stupid? Strategic?

    There will come a point at which, much like 2008 US Republican Presidential candidate John McCain correcting a lady who asserted Barack Obama was an Arab, Cameron will have to backpedal.

    Great party – yours – not Grayling’s.

    Good luck with the book!

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire


    OR …


    THURSDAY: Announcing … on the eve of this first anniversary of your weblog, Mr Campbell, congratulations, the heartiest imaginable

    Now, that’ll be when the REAL party starts, after the virtual “book launch” for your new novel, Maya, on Thursday (see your blog details, published opposite)

    See, at precisely 3:23pm Friday, it will be one year to the moment since you entered the blogosphere here

    So, it’ll be befitting that at 3:23pm, beginneth the synchronised throwing our top hats in the air, whilst we croon “ … jolly good fella, for AC’s a jolly good f … an’ so say all of us,” right?

    Then – POOF – you blow out that single celebratory candle and we all clap loudly, across the nation

    The candle a-top the secret-recipe-Nigella’s Special Birthday Boy fruitcake and you make an earnest wish. All this palaver to mark the Alastair Campbell weblog birthday numero uno, eh? Good job it’s only once a year, then

    Still, jolly well done, you. And equally Team @ SilverFish, too

    As for the candle blow, with your robust lungs, sir, I’m sure one big poof’ll be enough

    TM ——–