She answered a great many of the questions so I’ll post two of them for now and follow up as I get them. Thank you so much to the totally fabulous, shiny and sparkly Laura Bradford for your time!
1. is she looking for anything in particular in submissions at the moment as regards to genre?
LB: No, nothing in particular at the moment. Anything commercial (as opposed to literary), any variety of romance, mystery, urban fantasy, women’s fiction, YA. I like material that is really fresh and different… unusual settings and themes. Unusual mixes of genres.
2. On Laura’s site she welcomes electronic query letters but not electronic submission. Am I reading that correctly? No subbing the synopsis & 3 chpts by e-mail?
With a book as large as the one I want to submit, in her agent’s POV, is the first 3 chpts really enough? What does she think when she starts reading a sub with her agent’s hat on?
If she doesn’t really think the book clicks with what she’s selling these days, will she, if possible, make a recommendation to another agent that she thinks might work out better?
LB: It is really hard to read off the computer screen all day, which is why I prefer to limit electronic queries to query letters only (without sample chapters). As for 3 chapters being enough, if I am hooked by the sample, I will definitely ask for more. If I am not hooked by the first 3 chapters, then that is a problem. If the voice really, really works, I might still ask for more on the off chance there is a plot problem that can be fixed.
I am an editorial agent and I am not afraid of working with an author when the manuscript is close but not quite there. As a general rule, when wearing my Agent’s hat, I need to be every bit as ruthless a reader as an editor or book buyer would be. Neither an editor nor a book buyer is going to continue to read a manuscript that bores them, or is slow to start. If anybody thinks to themselves before they send off their manuscript “I wish I could send 50 pages because that is when the story takes off,” then Stop. Right. There. It isn’t ready. If you know it is slow to start, fix it so that it starts with a bang. If the story is really “big” and the first 30 pages is a short relative sample, I can still tell immediately whether the voice works for me or not. And I can tell what the book’s scope will be when I read the synopsis.
As for recommending another agent if I pass, I really don’t do that. If the MS was good, I’d want it for myself. If I pass on it, it usually means I don’t think it is ready for publication. If I don’t handle the kind of material you’ve sent, which is another reason I’d pass, I would generally tell you.