How I Got My Literary Agent: A. Lynden Rolland

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring A. Lynden Rolland, author of the YA supernatural novel OF BREAKABLE THINGS. Her agent is Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. GIVEAWAY: Lynn is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book, whereas other readers worldwide can win the ebook. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: naturalred78 won.)
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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring A. Lynden Rolland, author of the YA supernatural novel OF BREAKABLE THINGS. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Lynn is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book, whereas other readers worldwide can win the ebook. (UPDATE: naturalred78 won.)

of-breakable-things-novel
a-lynden-rolland

A. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. As a former
English teacher, she enjoys visiting classrooms to discuss reading, writing and
publishing. When she isn’t writing or chasing her two young children around
town, she moonlights as a writing tutor and gymnastics instructor. Her debut
novel is OF BREAKABLE THINGS (April 2014, Month9Books), a YA supernatural
story. You can connect with A. Lynden Rolland online through
her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

PINK SLIP IN THE MAIL

The first time I mailed a query letter the envelope gave me a paper cut. I should have seen it as a sign. The fact that I used snail mail tells you how long ago this journey began, and the fact that I sent out only one query tells you how naïve I was going into it. I checked the mail with a childlike diligence every day. A week later, there was my SASE, perfect lettering and all. My penmanship is typically slop. It’s a cursive-print hybrid mess that only a handwriting analyst might understand. But with lettering so intricately lined, so neatly arranged, the SASE had to contain good news. I rushed back to house, tossed the rest of the junk on the table, crisscrossed my legs and fell to the floor, ripping open the envelope. At first, I didn't think there was anything there besides my query. Was it possible that my dream agent had accidentally forgotten to include the shining request for the full manuscript? I expected it to fall out with a thud like a block of gold.

(Classifying Your Book: How to Research & Target Literary Agents.)

I thumbed through the contents again, flipping the envelope upside down and shaking it. Out fluttered a neon pink square. Pink. Freaking pink. Surely such a positive color would be representative of good news, but immediately the term "pink slip" came to mind. If that was the intention, I'm telling you now, agent: NOT FUNNY. Not funny at all. I didn't even receive a personalized rejection. Hell, I didn’t even get a full sheet of paper! Just the standard thank you, 'this business is subjective' blah, blah, (shoot me in the face) blah.

I didn't think it would sting quite as badly as it did, but that horrid, pink demon-slip left quite the paper cut on my ego. Everyone gets rejected. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times. But writers take things to heart. Writers are perfectionists. We analyze and internalize things more than other people. If we weren't overly emotional, we wouldn't write dramatic fiction.

MORE REJECTIONS

Eventually, I racked up over forty rejections. I took the criticism in stride. I rewrote; I reworked; I revised. Every time I wanted to jump off the roof, I reminded myself that my house wasn't high enough … I'd only break a leg, and then I'd be crippled and still rejected. Pass.

Many agents were encouraging. They liked my writing. They liked my premise, but I was already hearing the word trend. YA Paranormal was on its way out. I came very close with one agent, but in the end, it just didn’t work out. I was thankful for her advice, but I was crushed. Hope is a beautiful thing; each time an agent would request the ms, the elation was such a high. But the tricky thing about hope is that it acts similarly to helium. It doesn’t last forever, and when I was inflated to cloud nine, that only meant I had further to fall. And fall I did. I was done with it.

(Definitions of unusual literary terms & jargon you need to know.)

AND JUST WHEN I WAS ABOUT TO GIVE UP, THIS HAPPENED...

I gave up. I shelved the manuscript. My skin was not thick enough to withstand the knives of rejection. Ironically, the same week, I received an email from Rachael Dugas at Talcott Notch Literary Agency. She requested the first fifty pages. A few days later, she requested more. It was not my first full request, and I was no longer that optimistically eager moron. This time I didn’t get my hopes up. A month later, I checked my email to find:

Hi, Amy--

Thank you for your manuscript and your patience. I simply loved [Of Breakable Things] and would be interested in representing you. Can we set up a time to chat sometime early next week, perhaps sometime Monday afternoon?

Best,

Rachael Dugas

Blink.

Squint.

Reread.

Jaw drop.

My first tiny piece of success as a writer. I fell to the floor in tears. Would the moment have been so gratifying if I’d succeeded the first time? Certainly not. I’d like to believe that those paper cuts have made my skin a little thicker, but if anything, at least they’ve made me a bit more colorful, a bit more interesting, and a bit more appreciative.

GIVEAWAY: Lynn is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book, whereas other readers worldwide can win the ebook. (UPDATE: naturalred78 won.)

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