Hachette UK has announced the appointment of two new national hires as it celebrates the first anniversary of its expansion into Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Newcastle.
Yvonne Battle-Felton has been appointed as commissioning editor (Fiction) for John Murray Press and will be starting the role in September at Hachette UK’s Sheffield office. Yvonne currently works as principal lecturer in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam and her debut novel, Remembered (Dialogue Books), was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Besides teaching and writing, Yvonne has been a judge of the Jhalak Prize, co-director of North-West Literary Arts and creator and host of Write Your Novel, an innovative write-along podcast series, produced with New Writing North. Yvonne will be joining John Murray Press initially on a part-time basis, as she continues with her current commitments at Sheffield Hallam.
The appointment arose out of an invitation from Hachette UK to members of the Black Writers’ Guild to signal whether they had interest in pursuing a career in publishing, as part of a series of collaborations in response to the Black Writers’ Guild’s open letter of June 2020, which highlighted inequality within the industry.
Also joining Yvonne will be Ella Horne, who has been named as marketing director for Quercus, taking over the role from Bethan Ferguson. She will be joining the publisher in August, also working primarily from Hachette UK’s Sheffield office. Ella, who is currently senior campaigns manager at Penguin General, will head up the Quercus marketing team and work on some of Quercus’s biggest brands and authors. She was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2019 and one of the co-founders of The Flip (Female Leadership in Publishing), an online platform championing female leadership in publishing.
The two hires are the latest in a series of local appointments made as part of the publisher’s ongoing commitment to forge closer links with local talent and to diversify its workforce. Hachette UK now has 87 staff based across the five cities, with the offices in Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol doubling in size in less than a year. 28% of staff across the offices were also recruited locally in the last 12 months.
This growth at a regional level now means that 21% of all Hachette UK publishing staff work outside of London, with all 10 of the publishing divisions – and all job functions – being represented across the new bases.
Yvonne Battle-Felton, incoming commissioning editor (Fiction) for John Murray Press, added: “Joining John Murray Press as a Commissioning Editor will allow me to combine my enthusiasm for developing communities and experience working with writers, with my passion for engaging with readers. Thanks to Hachette and the BWG, I’ll be working with a great team, doing something I’m passionate about, and creating even more opportunities to connect with writers. Sheffield is a vibrant city filled with stories – I’m excited to be joining the Sheffield office and really looking forward to strengthening my ties with the community. I can’t wait to build my list.”
Nick Davies, MD of John Murray Press and national office lead at Hachette UK, said: “It’s been an extremely productive first year across the five offices with traineeships, festival sponsorships, mentoring programmes and much more. We’re particularly excited about our partnership with Northumbria University on their new MA in Publishing in Newcastle and the launch of the Baskerville Books imprint in Bristol. But the most encouraging thing has been to see the growth in local recruitment right across the country. Not only does this help bring diverse new talent into our industry but it helps us to create important new links with readers, writers and booksellers in communities beyond London.”
Nels Abbey, co-founder of the Black Writers’ Guild, commented: “The Black Writers’ Guild could not be happier for Yvonne and Hachette UK. Truly delightful news. Yvonne is an immense talent and will certainly help with the continued transformation and diversification of publishing and we wish her all the very best. Hachette’s partnership on this has been nothing short of stellar and we look forward to finding more enormously impressive creative and executive talent together in the future.”
Ella Horne, incoming marketing director for Quercus, commented: “Sheffield is a fantastic city and I can’t wait to get started in the national office here, connecting readers across the country with Quercus’ brilliant books.”
Jon Butler, MD of Quercus, commented: “Ella blew us away during the interview process with her energy, strategic vision and pro-active attitude, and we can’t wait for her to start. Having worked on huge brands and grassroots bestsellers alike, Ella is a brilliant match for Quercus – and hiring a key member of our management team in Sheffield sends a strong signal that we aspire to publish books for the whole country.”