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Laura Bradford on Celebrating Romance

Laura Bradford

Laura Bradford established the Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. She considers herself an editorial-focused agent and takes a hands-on approach to developing proposals and manuscripts with her authors for the most appropriate markets. During her own misadventures as a writer, Laura came to understand the importance of having a friendly but critical eye on your side, a career strategist in your corner and a guide who can lead you through the travails of publication.

She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and she is an RWA-recognized agent.

I come to agenting romance as a lifelong lover of the genre. I read my first romance when I was eleven—it was an Anne Stuart mis-shelved in the young adult section at my local Waldenbooks.  I’d gone to the mall that day–as I did every Saturday—to spend my allowance on books.  Sweet Valley High, no doubt, or something else with equally romance-heavy underpinnings. I read Gone With The Wind that year, too. In one twelve-hour-long sitting (maximum nerd!) Anyway, I read that entire Anne Stuart book in the mall food court (I’m trying to paint you a picture, here) while waiting for my mom to come pick me up and the rest is history. I was hooked on romance forever and ever after that.  My first job was working at a bookstore (another Waldenbooks) and I did that through high school & college and after college and while I was interning for my first literary agency and beyond. Fifteen years, all told and for most of that time I was the store’s (whichever store I happened to be working in at the time) romance specialist. I faithfully read the genre (hardly a chore!) and studied Romantic Times magazine and hand sold books & developed our local romance-reader communities.

In high school, I managed to convince my computer skills instructor that working on writing a romance novel during class time would allow me to employ all of those computer skills she was teaching me. Since she was a romance reader herself, she let me get away with it. After college I decided to REALLY give writing a go and of course if I was going to write anything, it was going to be romance.  I joined RWA right away and at my first meeting, the guest speaker was a literary agent, which was a career option I’d never even considered (because I never knew such a job even existed). I didn’t end up becoming a romance novelist (turns out I didn’t actually like writing all that much) but I did become a literary agent and surprise! romance is a pretty major focus of the work I handle.  In fact, even the genres and categories I handle that aren’t romance usually contain romance.  Romance is pretty clearly the river that runs through my list. So basically, I have been a big ol’ book nerd since I was a kid and a literal romance novel pusher since I was seventeen.

Who can say what makes a romance fan a romance fan?  I read everything when I was little and who can say why I gravitated more towards…Little House on the Prairie than A Wrinkle in Time. I imprinted on the books I loved and that was that.  As an agent, I chose to work with romance.  At my first agency, I actually wasn’t allowed to work on romance and that led me to move someplace else where I could. It just fits for me, and it’s fun, and thirty years into reading it, I have never stopped wanting to read more. And like any self-respecting fan-girl I can never get enough of talking about it. I have had the which-Julie-Garwood-book-is-your-favorite? conversation about seven billion times and I never get tired of it. For the record, it is a four-way tie between Honor’s Splendour, The Bride, The Prize and The Secret. If you hold a gun to my head and INSIST that I pick just one (so mean!), I’ll have to pick Honor’s Spendour, since it was my first Garwood and holds the softest sentimental spot in my gushy romance-loving heart.

As for what keeps romance fresh for me now…though it is always something you can count on with its guarantee of a happily-ever-after, as a genre, it is always evolving and shifting and cycling.  New sub-categories are always emerging and authors find new ways to spin our old beloved classics. That keeps this reader, fan & agent very happy.

For more information on what Laura is looking for and what her agency represents, please go to the website for Bradford Literary Agency and follow her on Twitter: @bradfordlit

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