Insight into publishing, my student perspective

Kate Whittle, a first year BA English student at SHU recently attended an ‘Insight into Publishing’ event, run by Hachette UK, the UK’s most diversified trade publishing group.

“What are you doing at University?”, I sometimes get asked. Getting the most out of it, or at least trying to!

As a first-year student I initially felt a little out of my depth, I’d gotten up at half past four and travelled down to London for nine. I arrived at Carmelite House and thought “what am I doing here?”

Navigating the way to Hachette

However, within five minutes of being there I’d got a coffee in hand, a biscuit in the other and was making my way towards a table of smiling faces. Hachette UK put all the students into groups of about 8-10 to a table with a brief on it for a book, my table got the genre of ‘cookery books’ and so we had to brainstorm and work together to create a plan. This was so that throughout the day we could slowly work up a brief presentation where we attempt to sell our ‘book’ to the publishing house. This meant that everyone had to be friendly and work together to produce an original and interesting brief, they were some incredibly interesting people who I worked with and I honestly felt I learnt so much just from my table.

The day was split up by different talks from the different departments within the company, they had a director, Martin Neild who came and gave us an over view of the company and re-assured us that the book is definitely not dead! I think this causes a lot of people to not go into the industry and therefore they wanted to calm our fears and really get us enthusiastic about it. This was followed by some more senior staff who covered everything from production, to marketing, sales, publicity and so much more. To me the most striking thing about the day was just how broad the term ‘publishing’ is, it’s not just an editor and publicist doing all the work!

For example, Sarah Clay, the special sales person form Hodder & Stoughton made me realise that there is a lot more to getting the books on the shelfs past just writing and creating the physical book. She goes out to the major supermarkets, to the major bookstores, anywhere they think a book will sell. Her job role is to be enthusiastic and exited about why they would want this book in their stores, she said “it requires a lot of creative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit”. This made me realise I don’t have to use my love of books in a typical sense, I could use that love and enthusiasm to get other people into books!

Publishers names on wall by the lifts

Over all it was a truck load of information crammed into a 9-hour day. I left feeling a little overwhelmed but even more in love with books and the English language than before, I honestly think the day on a whole was a must for anyone who is even considering a job leading from English or to English. Its not just about the specifics of publishing but also the general knowledge and confidence you get from doing something out of your comfort zone, such as travelling to London alone and talking to people much older and much more experienced than yourself.

Hachette UK is an incredible company that provides opportunities to those attempting to get into the industry. The ‘Inside story’ event was perfect for me as a student to go and get a better idea of what it actually meant to go into Publishing and I wholeheartedly recommend it to any who can spare the day.