These are what we oh-so-technically call “pretty” shoes, for Sharon, who writes:
I have two agents considering my first novel, and in the meantime have discovered “a friend of a friend” has personal connections at several publishers in my genre. Having read my novel, the person has offered to approach her connections. This seems too good to pass up, yet, (1) I’m a bit nervous about navigating these waters without an agent, and (2) I’m concerned that if this results in rejections from editors it may hurt my chances of finding agent representation. Any advice?
I’ll admit the friend of a friend angle seems a bit remote but as she herself has offered to contact her connections, I think you could certainly take advantage of her kind offer. However, you may want to ask her for an email address of her contact after she sends them, so you can follow up in due course and not have to go through your friend of a friend repeatedly.
The other thing to be aware of is that you don’t know if this twice-removed friend has a good relationship with her publishing contacts. You’d like to think so, of course, but the difference between going through a friend and going through an agent is that the agent has (usually) built up a reputation for taste, or at least has a relationship with the editor for submissions. Your friend may be a caterer — and yes, she may know lots of publishing people (we do so love our cocktail parties, of course), but she may not be the first person an editor thinks of as having great taste in books.
So, let her share your work with her contacts — you never know where a great connection may be made — but try to get the names yourself to be able to follow up, and continue to submit to agents.