So I wouldn’t recommend this as a deliberate strategy, but if you do find yourself in the position of having to host a book launch without any books to offer people, here’s how to make it work.
The secret is to have an amazing group of friends and well-wishers who will treat the lack of books as a minor inconvenience, make sympathetic jokes about it, and enjoy the event anyway. It also helps to have delicious food provided by a wonderful caterer working tirelessly in the kitchen while everyone else mingles, and awesome friends and family to help set things up, provide champagne, take book orders, and be generally splendid. I’m so lucky!
Oh, and four days later, the books arrived. And they’re lovely!
In all seriousness, I wouldn’t wish a book-free launch on anyone, because as the days beforehand rolled by and I realized that the books were not going to come in time, I was pretty miserable. I debated postponing, but by then it seemed too late, and I knew some people had already rearranged their schedules in order to attend. I opted to go ahead with it, and I’m so glad I did.
So if something like this does happen to you, here’s my advice: Try to keep a sense of humour about it. It’s not the end of the world, even if it’s your debut novel (as this is mine). And try to surround yourself with sympathetic people. I know that’s sometimes easier said than done, but if you know, for example, any bookstore owners or other authors who can share their own tales of things that have gone awry with book launches, it can’t help but lift your spirits. For instance, I may not have had any books to sell, but at least I didn’t have a car crash through the window during the launch party …