I recently attended a work related conference. While most of the events and receptions were open to all attendees, there were a few that explicitly said, “By Invitation only.” One such event was a minority and women networking breakfast that I really wanted to attend. I expended a bit of energy trying to figure out how to nab an invitation to this event. I am, after all, minority, and the last time I checked I was still a woman. But up to the night before the breakfast I hadn’t received an invitation or figured out how to get one.
That night, I crashed a reception. It was quite by accident. I just walked into the wrong ballroom not knowing the reception was “By Invitation Only.” I had already engaged an older Irish man in conversation by the time I figured out I was at the wrong reception. We spoke for hours. Sometime during the conversation I mentioned to him about the breakfast that I so wanted to attend but was not invited.
With a very deep Irish accent the man asked, “Why don’t you just crash the darned thing?”
I hadn’t contemplated that. I had never crashed a professional function before that night, and that was quite by accident. But the Irish man had a point, they weren’t checking IDs.
So the next morning, bright and early I did exactly that; I crashed the breakfast. I remember being nervous, my mind reflecting on the famous party crashers who met the president. But crashing the breakafast was the best thing I could have done. I was able to network with many professionals in my field of work. I met a young lady and began talking to her. She introduced me to an older professional who told me of someone from my home country he mentored. He made contact with that person and I discovered that person was one of my friends from high school with whom I have now reconnected (talk about degrees of separation). For the rest of the conference that man introduced me to many professionals in my field and offered career guidance. He has become my unofficial mentor.
The moral of the story, “Sometimes you have to go where you are not invited.”
This holds true especially in the field of writing. If we have to wait for the invitations, if we go only where we’re supposed to, do only the conventional things we’re supposed to, we just won’t sell books. Sometimes we need to think outside the box and find ways to promote books that are irregular. As long as it brings attention to the books and brings sales we’ve accomplished our goals.
A few years ago book trailers were unheard of. Self-publishing was considered non-lucrative at best, inferior at worst. Yet today book trailers are commonplace and there are self-published books on the bestseller lists.
Many publishers have specific formulas for specific genres. Yet it is those authors who go outside of the formula whose books make the greatest impact. So to all my fellow writers whether you’re published or unpublished, sometimes when you see the sign, “By Invitation Only” you gotta crash the party.