Visit to Hachette UK: MA in Publishing 2024

The publishing industry is one that those from minority backgrounds have previously struggled to get into. Now in its second academic year, New Writing North has partnered with Hachette UK and Northumbria University to create a Publishing MA, in hopes to break this issue.

As a young northern girl myself, there was no doubt in my mind upon hearing about this course that I had to be a part of it. My decision was cemented when I learned that the course not only offers a placement experience in one of Hachette’s imprints, but also a trip to Carmelite House, Hachette UK’s head office.

After months of excitement and pre-emptive planning, our MA cohort finally made our way from Newcastle to London last week, eager to gain insight into a true day in the life of working in publishing, and more than willing to pick up a free tote bag (or four – thank you London Book Fair) along the way.

On Thursday morning, our stomachs full, thanks to our hotel buffet breakfast, and with the sun beaming down on us, we made our way across Blackfriars Bridge. Situated on Victoria Embankment, Carmelite House stands in all its glory – with beautiful views of London’s main attractions fuelling our anticipation.

It felt like a fever dream, walking through those revolving doors (although it is up for debate whether this was due to our second early morning in a row) and being greeted by rows and rows of best sellers, new proofs, special editions and more importantly, Ronnie McMahon, one of the main points of contact between us and Hachette.

After finding a home for our newfound collection of tote bags, Ronnie led us through a tour of Hachette. Spread across five floors, each division highlights its personality in its own entrance space – set up with a seating area and bookcases displaying works from each department, and awards some had been lucky enough to win.

It wasn’t just the reception areas that reflected the personality of each imprint, but the representatives they had asked to come and talk to us about their role within the department. There was no end to the passion all our questions were answered with, only proving how dedicated everyone is to their role. Zigzagging through the building, we visited John Murray Press, Hodder Education, and Little, Brown, to name a few. It was particularly insightful to hear how different teams run within different departments, finding the similarities and contrasts of how, for example, marketing teams may work in children’s fiction in comparison to adult fiction or education.

After two hours of storming through the building, our tour reached the rooftop garden – a quiet green space amongst the crowded chaos of London’s working streets. There have been few surreal moments in my life, and sipping on my oat latte whilst staring out to the London Eye and Tower Bridge was definitely one of those moments – the imposter syndrome was incredibly real!

Lunch – an array of salads and sandwiches that put the student diet to shame – commenced in a conference room on the third floor and finally, we got to meet our placement contacts. After months of communicating via Teams, it was incredibly exciting to finally meet face-to-face. The entire room was buzzing with energy and laughter.

Post food, some senior editors, managers, and directors spent time with us, telling us their own stories. How did they get into the industry? What is their favourite part of working in their department? What are they proudest of publishing? It’s reassuring to hear that there is not one set route into publishing, and there’s always room to grow across departments and companies. Overall, the atmosphere was nothing but positive; everyone was warm and welcoming, and eager to tell us their stories.

It is daunting thinking about your future. The unknown. Where you’ll end up. It seems scary to think about the next steps into your career. But if there is one thing that every single person in Carmelite House taught me on Thursday, it’s to remember that everyone is on their own path and has probably felt as scared as us, at some point. So, be reminded to shoot your shot – what is the worst that can happen? Reach out, make contacts, ask questions. It’s rare to stumble upon somebody in the industry who wouldn’t be happy to answer your questions, offer you advice, or meet up with you for a coffee.

It’s with this information that I look forward to returning to Hachette in my future endeavours – I have high hopes in the diversity of the workforce.


Alix Scorer is a Publishing MA student from Northumbria University, and is currently undergoing a placement with Jessica Kingsley Publishers, where she has a particular interest in production editorial.