Keara Donnachie

“There was something about the thrill of learning how a book was actually created that made me want to learn everything”

MSc Publishing student, Keara Donnachie, describes what it was like to complete her masters while interning at Black and White Publishing

“I discovered that a lot of the major publishers were looking for the masters specifically and this coursePublishing student, Keara Donnachie, in front of a bookcase let me dip my toe in to find out where I wanted to specialise”

I decided to do my masters when I was in Japan, I was teaching English and I was looking for the next step. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next in my career, and then I came across the MSc in Publishing. This was something really surprising to me because I’d always loved books, but I didn’t realise it was something I could study, so I decided to look a bit more into it and I decided that I wanted to get a job in publishing, and this course was the perfect way to do it.

The reason I decided to do the masters rather than just getting work experience was because, first of all, I did a little bit of research and discovered that a lot of the major publishers were looking for the masters specifically, and I wasn’t really sure if I would have enough experience to get even on that first step. When I looked at what was available, I actually thought the masters would be the best way to get that experience, and also, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialise in yet, so when I looked at the course specifications, the fact that they covered everything from marketing to editorial, I realised actually this would be a really good way to dip my toe in the water, and then see which step I wanted to take next.

“There was something about the thrill of learning how a book was actually created that made me want to learn everything”

I’d always had a really big love of books from a really young age. Having read a little bit about the course, I found there was something about the thrill of learning how a book was actually created, so that’s what I wanted to learn about, from the very beginning.

I remember my first day of the course vividly because there were so many students from all over the world, and for me that was a really great experience. To be in a classroom with people from all over the world with their different experiences and what they thought publishing was going to be like was really interesting, and it again, reminded me that I was going into an industry that was on a world stage, and I would need that international experience for things like book fayres and so on.

“Some of my most useful experiences from the course were taking charge of creative projects and going to the London book fair”

One of the most useful experiences during my masters course was having the opportunity to take a lead role in publishing a book with a team. I took the role of editorial lead. That whole process taught me from start to finish about publishing and I’d never quite understood the length of time, things could take. It really opened my eyes to how collaborative publishing has to be, so that one experience has really stood me in such good stead.

Another really valuable experience that we had during the masters course was the opportunity to go to the London book Fair. There were opportunities to network and I think the experience I had from working on projects at university gave me the confidence to speak to people.

“One of the main reasons for picking the course was the opportunity for do an internship”

As part of the course, we were offered the opportunity to do an internship, which was one of the big reasons that I picked this specific course. I really wanted that hands on work experience. I landed a place with Black and White Publishing, based in Edinburgh, my job involved going through manuscripts and cataloguing. The experience was really helpful because it allowed me to understand all the different roles within publishing and how all those little parts come together. I was actually offered a job for them after two months of my internship which was a great moment.

“One of the best things about the masters was the support network”

One of the best things about the masters was the support network that we had with the lecturers, and it was something that I really valued as a postgraduate student because it’s a much more adult relationship. There are times where you can feel a bit overwhelmed, and I really appreciated on this course being able to go and chap on somebody’s door and just ask for that 5 minutes and a cup of coffee to go over things, and ask things, and I always felt that support was there for me if I needed it.