A few weeks ago, an email reached my inbox containing a fantastic opportunity to attend Hachette’s Insight Into Publishing day at their offices in Carmelite House, overlooking London’s Victoria Embankment. I applied on a whim over the summer and had completely forgotten about it, so after a bit of hasty shift swapping and grovelling I got the day off work, packed my rucksack and booked myself onto the 06:03 train for a measly £58 (!!).
Being someone who is not used to starting their day at 4.15am and is still quite inept when it comes to navigating the Underground, it took a while to find my way but I did eventually make it to the lobby with about ten minutes to spare.
Carmelite House, for starters, is a beautiful home for Hachette. The interior is all very sleek and modern, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lining the walkways and spacious lifts with padded walls. We were greeted with tea, coffee and tote bags full of goodies, including the new John Grisham novel Gray Mountain (which I featured in my TBR, actually, here).
The first item on our agenda was a talk called ‘The Life Of A Book’, in which we heard from the whole range of departments involved in bringing a book to life – this included Editorial, Design, Production & Planning, Marketing, Publicity and Sales. I was fascinated to learn how interlinked all these different aspects were and how there’s so much more to publishing than just the editorial side! My favourite little nugget of advice from this talk came from Yasia, the Art Design Director, who assured us her first stints working on magazines such as Plumber’s Monthly (if such a thing exists) weren’t at all glamourous but that they helped her get to where she is today. Started from the bottom now we here, as Drake would say.
I also attended two seminars in Rights & Contracts and International Sales, which were both great. To the majority of us in the room, Rights & Contracts had seemed like a very dry, ‘serious’ department to work in, but after the talk I realised the required skills for working in Rights & Contracts almost perfectly match the skills I picked up studying my Philosophy degree. Who knew?
After a lovely buffet lunch, there were a few more talks to be given from some even more ‘obscure’ departments, such as Consumer Insight and Finance. The reason I use the word obscure is that the majority of us arrived at the day ready to hear how to secure a career in editorial. Who turns up to a publishing day expecting to be riveted by a talk on balancing the books? Certainly not me, and I’m still not sure the accounts would be my gig, but the speaker Jonathan did a fantastic job of actually making numbers seem appealing.
The final few activities of the day were more interactive. The first was a work experience talk, which was great. It really helped consolidate all the advice I’ve heard for years about securing work experience in my head to the most crucial pointers. Next was a CV workshop, where the lovely HR ladies took us into little focus groups and picked apart all our CVs to give us hints on how to look the most employable we possibly could. Brilliant to hear from someone who actually checks CVs in the publishing industry! I’ve heard so many different things from different influences so it was nice to set the record straight. After this we were all invited to a networking session in the rooftop bar (I know) with a free glass of wine each. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for long as I had to make the dash on the tubes back to Euston for my train home, but I picked up some really helpful tips for getting into the industry I so badly want to be in.
All in all, you did good Hachette! An insight is what you promised and it’s certainly what I received. It’s a priceless opportunity, so for any budding publishers out there who might be reading this I would strongly recommend following @hachettecareers on Twitter and applying to attend their next one when the time comes back around!
Until next time,