Q&A With Betsy DeJesu

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Q&A With Betsy DeJesu 

My favorite part about doing Q&As is the fascinating people I talk to, whether they be authors or the literary agents, publicists & editors who help these authors put their creativity out into the world for us to read and enjoy! Today’s Q&A is with publicist Betsy DeJesu! 

Q: Betsy, when did you know that being a publicist was what you were called to do in life?

A: I’ve always loved books my whole life. My TBR list continues to be out of control! But I never really considered working with books and only got a job in publishing by chance. Even then the only publishing job I knew of was an editor. I didn’t know anything about publicity when I started, but I loved the idea of reading books and being to help spread their messages to the media—and from there, hopefully to someone else’s TBR list!

Q: I understand publicists work with authors to secure media coverage for their books. What do you love most about being a publicist? 

A: I love that I get a crash course in so many different topics. I’ve worked on fiction as well as serious nonfiction—history, science, wellness, politics, classics, business books. I also really love when a book fits into (or I can find a way to fit it into) the news cycle. It’s great to be able to offer the media an author as an expert who can help explain what is going on with current events or help to get a discussion going about new ideas or new research. 

Q: How long have you been a publicist? 

A: I started 2 weeks after I graduated college, and that is going on 24 years ago. Time really flies!

Q: Would you like to tell the readers of the blog about some of the authors you represent as their publicist?

A: Sure. In the past I worked with celebrities like Al Franken and Wendy Williams as well as academics like Laurence Tribe and Ed Baptist. I’ve also worked on memoirs by great writers like Bobi Conn and Hari Ziyad.

Q: A publicist who I did a Q&A with, told me that she went to college for English & Public Relations & then interned at the publicity department at one of the five big publishers. Did you go to college first & then do an internship? Or did you just apply for an internship without going to college?

A: When I started in publishing, not a lot of us had done internships. I actually went to college for political science and on whim applied for an editorial assistant position at Penguin. HR referred me to publicity, and I hit the ground running from there! By the time I was a publicity director, though, and hiring people for my team, most candidates had done internships, and internships were something we usually did look for. But given my own experience, I also was open to someone who hadn’t had an internship but who was interested in learning about publicity and doing the work. 

Q: If you ever became an author, would you ever represent yourself as your own publicist or hire someone else?


A: I’ve actually thought about this before! I think I would want someone else to do my publicity, though it would be hard for me to not have control over the process given that I already know how it works. But it would probably be good to have some distance and let someone else get creative in terms of pitches and strategy.