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 Sareeta Domingo, who is an editor with Harlequin Mills & Boon. So, over to you, Sareeta.
1. Please could you start by telling us what your current role is and what it involves?
I’m an Editor, and I’m on the Mills & Boon Modern (aka Harlequin Presents) team. That means that although I acquire across all the lines we work on out of the UK (True Love, Medical, Historical, Dare and Modern), and have authors across all those lines, I work with my fellow Modern team on the copy, covers and strategy for the Modern line specifically.
My role involves working with my ‘roster’ of authors, giving them feedback on their ideas, working with them on editorial notes for their full manuscripts, as well as helping them with other queries, writing cover copy, sorting out contracts and so forth. And, of course, reading submissions and looking out for new talent!
2. What type of submissions are you personally looking for at the moment?
I’m always a sucker for an unrequited love story in general, and an intense romance. I’d also like to see some stories for the Modern line in particular that keep the glamorous sensibility and classic Alpha hero, but with a cool, relatable heroine and a lighter take on the romance; sometimes writers tend to skew a bit dark for Presents.
I’d also love to see a greater reflection of our society both in our author base and in the characters portrayed in our stories – so I’m actively on the lookout for under-represented writers.
3. Is there anything you or your publishing house wouldn’t accept right now?
There’s something for almost everyone across the various lines that Mills & Boon produce; my advice would be to read widely, look closely at the guidelines and make sure that you’re submitting to the right place.
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?
Strongly consider the hooks in your story – what is going to reach out and grab me as an editor, and therefore grab your reader too? And in your first chapter, make sure it comes across as a taster of what to expect across the whole story – plant all the necessary seeds and make me want to know how they’re going to grow. It’s your one shot to show me why I should want to read on!
5. And what about the synopsis? Do you have any tips for writing a really good one?
Make sure you have a clear and simple sense of what your story is. Can you summarise it in a sentence, or two at the most, if you really had to? Or is it too convoluted for that? If it is, you may need to rethink it. And ensure that all the key ingredients of your story – the conflicts, the reason these two characters fall in love, the potential Black Moment etc – are all clearly and succinctly conveyed within it.
6. What are you most looking forward to doing over the conference weekend aside from your one-to-one sessions?
I’m looking forward to the potential to meet new and enthusiastic romance writers, and to give people the opportunity to really learn what we’re looking for and what we’re all about.
7. Can you tell us the last published book you read which you really enjoyed and why?
Well, the first book that sprung to mind wasn’t a romance (though there are loads that I absolutely love, of course!!) but I recently loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. It’s a speculative fiction story in which the secret escape network that genuinely existed for African American slaves is reimagined as a real railway network, and follows one young woman who uses it in a bid to escape to freedom. It’s incredibly moving and a real exploration of character – I’d highly recommend it, especially if you’re interested in American history!