Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chatting with Publishers: Dominic Wakeford

We welcome Natalie Kleinman with the second in our new series for the RNA blog, 'Chatting With Publishers'. This month Natalie chats with Dominic Wakeford, Commissioning Editor, Piatkus Fiction.

Welcome to the blog, Dominic, and thank you for agreeing to answer my questions.

Can you tell us something about your journey to your present job?
My first job in publishing was in the ebooks team at Random House, which just so happened to coincide with their publication of the  Fifty Shades trilogy – a baptism of fire! This was the first time I came into contact with the romance genre, and having recently completed an English Lit degree and studying the canon for three years, it came as a relief to work on engaging and addictive commercial fiction. After a couple of years at PRH I became an editorial assistant at an independent publisher, Constable & Robinson, who were later acquired by Little, Brown. From there I joined the Piatkus Fiction imprint in January 2015 as a Junior Editor and have recently been promoted to Commissioning Editor.

What is a typical day like as a busy editor – if there is such a thing as a typical day?
Most people think that editors sit around reading and marking up manuscripts in red pen – if only! Like most of my colleagues I’m glued to my emails for much of the day, but will try and fit in some submission reading too around meetings, speaking to authors and agents and tweeting about our forthcoming publications. When I’m working on a manuscript I prefer to lock myself away in our quiet room as we work open plan and so it can be quite hard to concentrate out on the floor. I also handle the desk editing for our imprint, which involves collating proofs and liaising with freelancers. If it’s a really good day, I’ll have a lunch meeting – my favourite perk of the job!

Have you ever wanted to write a book?
I’ve started a couple of things (in my iPhone notes!) but no, I don’t really think I’m cut out for it – which makes me respect what my authors do so much more. I’m a big film fan though so would quite like to try writing a screenplay.

When not surrounded by books in your job what do you like to read for leisure?
I have catholic tastes and don’t like to confine myself to a particular genre, but I’d say my preferred fiction sits at the commercial end of literary. I try to mix old and new, though of course there’s never enough time to read everything I want to. I’m a keen cook so will happily curl up with a cookbook as well.

What are you looking for at present?
I’m on the lookout for romance fiction of all kinds, as well as commercial women’s fiction with a strong voice, memorable characters and sparkling writing – books that allow me to escape daily life and be transported to extraordinary places. A particular focus of my acquiring has been bringing previously self-published authors onto the list, including bestsellers Tillie Cole and Kelly Elliott.

If you receive a submission that is not a genre you handle, do you pass it to another editor in your company?
Absolutely – one of the nicest things about working at Little, Brown is the collegiate atmosphere and so we all have a pretty good idea of what our fellow editors are looking for.

Does your company accept un-agented submissions?
We don’t, but part of my acquisition brief is to seek out previously self-published authors whom I will approach directly if there’s potential to work with them.

Do you have a crystal ball? What do you feel will be then next ‘big thing’?
I wish I did! The most interesting thing about the book publishing industry is how cyclical it is – certain genres which had been going down (paranormal, for example) are coming right back up again, which is great as we’re able to mine our enormous backlist and hopefully introduce old titles to new readers. The recent trend in sports-themed romance doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, and it’s been refreshing to see the return of good romantic suspense as well.

If you have one piece of advice to give to anyone submitting a manuscript, what would it be?
Try to make your submission as targeted as possible, and if you see yourself in the same vein as an existing author on a publisher’s list, say so – it’s often one of the main things we consider when taking on new work. As I said before we don’t take unagented submissions, but if you need help getting an agent an invaluable resource I always direct people to is the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, which is updated annually and provides a list of agents and their preferred genres etc. It’s also worth carefully reading the submission guidelines that agents and publishers include on our websites – it’s a waste of everyone’s time if you submit a romance novel to someone who exclusively handles non-fiction!

What a lot of very useful information you have provided us with, Dom. Thank you so much for joining us today – and if you ever want any guinea pigs to sample your culinary skills just put out a call to RNA members. I’m sure you’d have a lot of takers.

About Natalie:

Natalie Kleinman writes contemporary and historical romance novels and has thrown a bit of a mystery into the mix in her current wip. She is accumulating a nice collection of Regency works to help with her research. You can follow her blog at

Thank you Natalie! 
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Unknown said...

Hi Natalie,

An interesting interview with Dominic. Enjoyed reading it. Full answers to all of your well thought out questions. A good insight into an editor's day, I've often wondered about that.

I love that fact that Dominic loves cooking.

Natalie Kleinman said...

Dom was so helpful, Cathy. It was a real pleasure