How many times have you heard that phrase? If you're like me, probably about a million. If you're also like me, after that phrase was said, you would wrinkle up your nose and scoff. It sucks that the world functions this way. People should be chosen for whatever based on their skills and abilities, not because they know someone. And then it happens to you. Everything becomes clear, and no longer does that phrase hold animosity.
I swear up and down that the reason I got my last two jobs was because my friend worked for the company. (Incidentally, it was the same friend at both places.) But she assures me it was because of my skills. I have a tendency to think it was both. My skills got me in the door, but my friend's recommendation got me the job. That's how I landed myself my latest publisher. My writing lured in the unsuspecting victim, I mean book manager, then her connections got me signed up with Booktrope.
I met Wendy on Facebook. One of her authors was on my blog, so she friended me. We got to talking, and I asked her about what it was like to work for Booktrope. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about it. At the time, The Appeal of Evil was just being finished, and it still had some editing phases to go through. After that, I had to torture myself with querying agents. I informed Wendy that I would submit later on, and she told me to keep her informed of my progress.
When the agent route didn't work out and I was contemplating sending to indie presses, I made sure to send Wendy a message to let her know. She offered to read the manuscript for me and give a recommendation to her bosses if she liked it. I had nothing to lose. Another set of eyes on the story would be fantastic. If she had some suggestions of how to make the story better, perfect. I could only benefit from her reading it.
Well, it turns out she loved the story. Unfortunately, Booktrope was closed to submissions when I went to send the story in, but Wendy was more than willing to send an email and recommend me. Again, I had nothing to lose so told her to go for it. Wendy's recommendation was all they needed to accept me. I talked on the phone to the VP and Wendy for an hour, in case I had any questions. Scarecrow Press, my nonfiction publisher, is the only other publisher I have talked to on the phone. (I'm not saying this is good or bad. Some of my other publishers are fabulous and I've only talked to them through email, but it leaves an impression.)
I'm sure Wendy would probably say that my book is what got me into the publisher, but that was only one part. If she didn't believe enjoy my work, I would still be hunting for a publisher. My story got my foot in the door, but her recommendation got me the publisher.