Feedback - Polly Silk - MA Publishing 2010

Polly Silk was awarded the Hachette UK Publishing Scholarship for the year 2009-10. She writes about her experience on the MA Publishing at Oxford Brookes.

Although I had known for some time that I wanted to pursue a career in publishing, before coming to Brookes I had only a vague idea of the ‘big picture’ of the workings of the industry, having worked at a literary agency during the final year of my undergraduate degree. The MA has given me so much: a huge range of practical skills, from operating design software packages to producing marketing plans, and a truly broad overview of the real business of producing and promoting content. The tutors, all either currently or previously involved in the industry, have been amazing; they have given great support and guidance throughout the course and offered students unrivalled networking opportunities through their great range of industry connections. I have had so many new and fascinating experiences on the MA – travelling to the Frankfurt, Bologna and London book fairs, participating in a speed-dating style networking event and, just last month, attending a children’s publishing summer school in Florence.

Being awarded the Hachette Livre Scholarship has, of course, played a really significant role in allowing me to make the most of all these opportunities during the MA in contributing towards my tuition fees. Furthermore, the scholarship offered me the chance to undertake a three-week placement at Hachette UK. The HR team arranged for me to work in Hachette Children’s Books, a dream come true given my passion for children’s publishing. Based in the Sales department, I was able to observe first-hand how the team interact with the Editorial, Marketing, Production and Design departments, allowing me to see what I had learnt in the previous semester put into action. It was really exciting to see the new jackets for forthcoming titles and to help prepare the AIs and sales kits. Being part of the sales team gave me some fascinating insights into current developments in the industry – for example, I learnt a great deal about the increasingly important role of the supermarkets in children’s book sales. I was also given the chance to work in the Marketing and Publicity departments during my time at Hachette, which allowed me to put some of the practical skills I had learnt on the MA to use and learn more about the growing significance of digital elements in promoting books to children.  All of these insights proved invaluable in the second semester of the MA when I was put in the Children’s Division for our New Product Development module and later took on the role of Managing Director. For this module, the year group was divided into the different divisions of a fictitious publisher. Each group had to work as a team, with each member taking on a different role, to produce a proposal for a new title, looking at all the areas necessary for creating a profitable and innovative product - the market environment, sales channels, financial prospects, and, importantly, digital elements. This experience gave me an excellent overview of how the entire publishing process works, bringing together all the skills and knowledge I had acquired over the course of the MA so far. I have learnt so much since starting the course in September and would encourage anyone considering doing the MA to apply. I have made some great friends, acquired a wide range of skills and now feel ready to enter the industry with confidence.

Posted on 08 Jun 2010 around 8am

Filed Under PublishingMA PublishingPublishing Work ExperienceScholarship and Funding