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.