We are very lucky to have a huge number of industry professionals attending the RNA conference in Leeds this year – agents, publishers and editors – and over the coming weeks, we will be hearing from them about what they do and what they are looking for from their one-to-one sessions with RNA members over the weekend of the conference in July.
Today, we welcome Anna Baggaley, who is a Senior Editor at Mills & Boon UK. So, over to you, Anna.
1. Please could you start by telling us what your current role is and what it involves?
I’ve recently moved into the role of Senior Editor at Mills & Boon UK. This role is a little different to those of the Mills & Boon acquisition team and my role sits within the UK marketing team. I’m responsible for the UK release of the Mills & Boon series that are acquired in the US and Canada, such as Desire, and for creating a reprint programme of Mills & Boon collections around bestselling themes such as Billionaires or Greek Heroes. I’ve also recently launched our Mills & Boon Trade list which publishes longer format romance fiction aimed at the trade market but still very much for romance fans. Authors on this list include Tessa Dare and Susan Mallery.
2. What type of submissions are you personally looking for at the moment?
In terms of acquiring, I only acquire for the Mills & Boon trade list so I’m looking for longer form romance novels of around 70K words that tell a big romantic story.
3. Is there anything you or your publishing house wouldn’t accept right now?
That’s a broad question as overarchingly we are part of HarperCollins which has so many different great lists for so many different kinds of books! I’m very focused in my acquisition remit in that its only for the Mills & Boon trade list but I’m sure that there will be the perfect romantic home for most kinds of romance within Mills & Boon or our sister imprint HQ.
4. RNA members are sending you only their first chapter and a synopsis. Can you give them any tips on how to grab your attention in such a short submission?
Get straight into the story! You can give hints at backstory later but diving right into the action is the best way to get my attention.
5. And what about the synopsis? Do you have any tips for writing a really good one?
Controversially, I’m not a big fan of synopses and will always be drawn to the writing first, but essentially what I’m looking to know from a synopsis is that the key dramatic moments in novel are in place. Do you have an engaging mid-point? A strong ending? So, for me, keeping concise and focussing on the action of the story always makes for the strongest synopsis.
6. What are you most looking forward to doing over the conference weekend aside from your one-to-one sessions?
My colleague Katie and I get to share a presentation about the Mills & Boon rebrand which launched in January 2018 and has been a great success so we can’t wait to share more with the RNA.
7. Can you tell us the last published book you read which you enjoyed and why?
We’ve got so many fantastic authors and there are so many incredible romance writers out there that it would be impossible to choose so I’ll go for something a little out of genre. I absolutely devoured Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It’s full of so many great twists – and made me nostalgic for being a teenager in the nineties.