Shapr introduced me to a publisher for my short story!

Eight months ago, Ari Valdez would have described networking as a room full of people in business suits. Says Ari:

“I thought networking was most important for people in other fields, financial fields, or business,” says Ari. “I didn’t think it applied to people in the creative fields.”

Ari (full name Ivan A. Valdez Morales) is an aspiring creative writer from San Antonio who was trying to get published for the first time, but was hitting a wall. He tried the conventional channels — including cold emailing agents — but only received polite rejections and a minimal amount of feedback in return. After doing some research, he realized that he needed connections in the publishing world to get his foot in the door, but didn’t know quite how to go about it.

But then, one of Ari’s friends recommended the networking app Shapr. Ari describes himself as “not very tech-savvy,” so he admits he was reluctant to download the app at first. However, he says the app was user-friendly and immediately made networking easier, more comfortable, and more accessible.

Shapr matches users based on their self-selected hashtags, such as #art or #publishing. It was through the hashtag #writing that Ari matched with Ruby Edlyn Duffau. Ruby is the owner and publisher of Semillas Publishing, a publishing company which seeks to represent underserved minority voices. Says Ari on their first conversation:

“I was so lucky to meet her. She’s just as passionate about writing as I am. She seems to know more about it than I do, which makes her a hell of a guide.”

Ruby and Ari started off simply talking about the field, comparing notes, and sharing advice. During the conversation, Ari mentioned his short story “Creation,” a subversive narrative about “more human” versions of Adam and Eve. Ruby offered the read the story, and ended up passing it along to others on her team, who loved his writing. Semillas Publishing has now shared the story through their site and Ruby has asked for Ari to continue to pass along new stories, poetry and essays. She is also anticipating a draft of Ari’s first novel.

“Networking, meeting different people with similar interests, actually helped,” Ari said. “I thought it was an urban myth.”

Through Shapr, Ari has found a publisher for his work and a friend with great insight into the publishing industry.

Ari says he will keep using Shapr to find other publishing opportunities and friends in his industry, and touts the value of purposeful networking in any field.

“What I ultimately like about Shapr is that it’s professional. The app is a great incentive and complement, it’s a tool. When you start with a specific purpose and goal, it can take you to some very cool places.”

Want to meet relevant professionals near you? Download Shapr for iOS or Android and start networking.