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Beacon Behind the Books: Meet Nicholas DiSabatino, Publicist

Nicholas DiSabatinoYou’ve read our classics, such as Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son; and many of you know our current list, featuring books by Cornel West, Lani Guinier, Anita Hill, and Christopher Emdin—books that speak to the condition of the world, and add to our understanding of urgent social issues. Whether it’s the environment or race, cultural or class dynamics, we publish all our books with a purpose. Now you can meet the people who work at Beacon Press in our blog series “Beacon Behind the Books.” Each month, we’ll introduce to you a member of our staff and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at our office.

To kick off the new year, we introduce you to Nicholas DiSabatino, our publicist!

What drew you to publishing, Nicholas? How did you find your way to Beacon?

I had a BA in English from Kent State University, and I didn’t want to teach. I also knew I needed to get out of Ohio as quickly as possible.

I moved to Boston in the fall of 2009 and attended Emerson College’s MA program in Publishing and Writing. I graduated in 2011. After a series of various internships (Nicholas Brealey, Shambhala, Charlesbridge), I started in the marketing department at Beacon Press in August of 2012. I moved to the publicity department in January 2013 and I’ve been here ever since.

What’s a typical day in the life of a publicist?

The life of a publicist is varied. Most of my days are spent pitching media, writing press releases/press materials, answering phone calls, coordinating interviews, scheduling author events, and more. In addition to answering emails, I generally try to start each morning reading and skimming around ten to twelve different news sources (my favorites right now are the Washington Post, the Nation, and the Atlantic) to see what’s going on in the world and if there are any writers talking about specific issues pertinent to my books.

What is one book on our list that has influenced your thinking on a particular issue?

I felt so privileged to work on journalist Ann Neumann’s The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America. It’s a beautiful, personal look at how we die in America from a variety of perspectives, including Neumann’s story of her father’s death, and what it’s like to work as a hospice volunteer. She also looks at the prolife movement, states with right-to-die laws, a prisoner who wanted to die and was force-fed after refusing to eat, and the contradictions and complexities within the disability community and right-to-die supporters. Neumann’s book made me really think hard about the concept of death and how it can be messy yet routine, unsentimental but moving, and all of the above.

What current/upcoming projects are you excited about?

I’m really excited about Caroline Light’s Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense. It’s a fascinating history of stand-your-ground gun culture and how it evolved from colonial days until now. Last year, I worked on Dennis A. Henigan’s important book, “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” And Other Myths about Guns and Gun Control, and it opened my eyes to the absurd rhetoric and bumper sticker logic of the NRA. Light’s book, for me, feels like a continuation of my education on gun issues and gun culture in America (something I knew little of, but am fascinated by now). I know that Beacon will continue to publish timely and pertinent books on this subject.

Nicholas's desk space
Nicholas's desk space

What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?

Do some research and find out what you’re passionate about. Also, there are other fields besides editorial (no offense, ed team!). If you have an outgoing personality and can work well under pressure, consider a career in book publicity. Working at Beacon Press has been a second education for me on so many issues (climate change, the dangers of fracking, intergenerational activism, urban education, Native American culture, the inner workings of progressive politics, and more).

One of my favorite projects:

I have a special place in my heart for James Baldwin’s Jimmy’s Blues & Other Poems. It was my first solo project at Beacon Press. When the galleys of the book came in, I remember running into my boss’s office bursting with excitement exclaiming, “My name’s on it!” as silly as that sounds. Baldwin’s poetry is rich, powerful, and playful. It was a special first-time project for a young publicist. I’m so glad Beacon publishes this and Notes of a Native Son

Favorite thing about Boston?

No one thing in particular. It’s home. I met my husband here and all my friends. The city is an inclusive, historical, vibrant place to be.

Favorite food?

Do vanilla milkshakes count?

Best vacation destination?

Rome, Italy.

What are you reading right now?

Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies, Wesley Lowery’s “They Can’t Kill Us All,” Abigail Tucker’s The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, Ari Berman’s Give Us the Vote, Elena Ferrante’s Frantumaglia, and Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2 (I’m talking Chris Claremont Dark Phoenix/Days of Future Past gold here).  

In an alternate universe, what career would you have?

Voice actor. I think I’d make a good cartoon panda or squirrel.

Favorite book ever?

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

Hobbies outside of work?

I’m in the process of looking into volunteer work for Fenway Health’s LGBT Suicide hotline for at risk youth.

Favorite movie(s)?

Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Hud, The Heiress, A Streetcar Named Desire, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Death Becomes Her

Name three non-office items on your desk and their significance to you.

Photos of my husband, Josh.

I have a lot of black and white photos pinned to my cork board of some of my favorite old Hollywood actors and actresses (Paul Newman, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, and Cary Grant). My desk is essentially a promotional tool for Turner Classic Movies.

I have a small golden cat figurine that I call my “Cat Oscar” because it feels like an award in your hands.


About the Author 

Nicholas DiSabatino graduated from Kent State University and has an MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. He joined Beacon in 2012.