After a season of hibernation, we are excited to reboot our “Beacon Behind the Books” series! In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Colm Tóibín, Sheryll Cashin, Robin DiAngelo, Eboo Patel, and Gayl Jones—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it might be good to take a break to focus on some of the staff who work hard to find, shape, edit, produce, and promote those works. Our blog series introduces to you a member of our staff and gives you a behind-the-scenes look, department by department, at what goes on at our office.
For the month of June, we introduce you to our senior publicist, Bev Rivero!
What drew you to publishing, Bev? How did you find your way to Beacon?
The timing of this Q&A is a nice bookend, as I joined Beacon last June! I saw this specific job retweeted by either POC in Publishing or Latinx in Publishing. I’ve been in publishing/the world of books in some way ever since I graduated college back in the aughts. After moving around a bit, I really found a sweet spot in working on progressive books, and publicity and marketing really suit my preference of crafting the messaging and helping to put out projects into the world that the author has spent so much time working on.
What’s a typical day in the life of a senior publicist?
I always start my day checking my inbox, seeing if there are replies from follow ups and checking any loose ends for interviews scheduled for authors—setting Zoom times and links—and then I check to see if I have meetings that day. The rest of my day is spent reaching out to media and venues for books that are currently out or coming out anywhere from three to six months from now. I also spend time communicating with authors, making sure they feel supported in their efforts between myself and marketing, and meeting virtually with my colleagues about our titles.
This is my first time starting a fully remote role. When I left my last job, we were all working remotely during the pandemic, but I had started in-office. It’s been refreshing to see workplaces embrace the possibilities of remote work for the financial and mental well-being of their workers.
What are some of the challenges of being a publicist? What do you find most rewarding?
I mentioned that I have moved around a bit within books, and what I find most rewarding is working one on one with authors on their books to get their big ideas to their intended audiences. At my last job before Beacon, I worked on marketing and communications for the National Book Foundation. I learned a ton about marketing and working on the National Book Awards is an incredibly unique experience, but I really treasure building direct author relationships as part of my daily role.
What is one book on our list that has influenced your thinking on a particular issue?
One of my first projects when I joined Beacon was working with Sheryll Cashin on her latest book, White Space, Black Hood. Cashin is a veteran Beacon author, so I was excited to bring my connections and expertise to the table. I worked with a lot of authors writing in this area in my time at the New Press, so I’m no stranger to books on inequity. But the points that Cashin drives home about how engrained structural segregation is in American cities is something I find myself thinking about when reading about new construction projects, how government programs are run, and many more headlines.
What current/upcoming projects are you excited about?
I’m very much looking forward to Racial Innocence being part of the public dialogue about race, identity, and anti-Blackness. As a Latina, I’m looking forward to Tanya Hernández being part of that long-overdue conversation at a national level, especially as a legal scholar.
What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?
Check out the different roles that exist at each point in a book’s lifecycle. There’s so much that happens after a book is signed and acquired! There are also options you can do, like working or volunteering at literary festivals, that are in-house publishing adjacent and will teach you a lot of helpful information about the field. If you work on programming for a literary festival, you will e-meet so many book publicists! Working in bookstores also teaches you about how books are sold in the marketplace. Interning for literary agents/authors/ghostwriters will pull back the curtain on certain processes. I’m sure I’m leaving out many other options, but there are definitely ways to learn (and get paid while doing it) beyond just doing in-house publishing internships.
What other departments does your department interact/collaborate with? And how?
I would say I work with marketing and editorial the most. I’m on the weekly web team meeting which, aside from necessary website and social items for our titles, is a bit of an ideas/brainstorming meeting about promoting our books online. As a staffer who has done social and marketing as well, I like being able to jump in and be part of this conversation. I’m in touch with editorial about authors on opinion pieces and, as we look toward the publication dates, about how we can get them to comment on current events as related to their work. I think this really brings everyone’s knowledge into one place: myself with the media landscape, editors who know the work the best, and the author as the expert.
My two favorite cuisines are Peruvian and Korean. I am Peruvian so I might be biased but I really do think our food is delicious. If you like seafood, I highly recommend you try it! My favorite dishes are ceviche, jalea, and causa. I love spicy food, pickled things, and vegetables, so Korean food hits all my high points.
Favorite book ever?
I’m eternally a cheerleader for Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee. Pachinko is an excellent book as well. I’ve been really happy to see her work getting such amazing recognition in the past few years, as Free Food for Millionaires originally came out in 2007. I love that she was a lawyer before becoming an award-winning novelist—a career track that she has in common with a lot of authors I love, like Melissa Rivero (no relation, but she is Peruvian too!) and Charles Yu.
Hobbies outside of work?
I love museums and galleries. I know I’m lucky to live in one of the art centers of the world, and I always try to keep up with what shows are on. Locally, I love the Brooklyn Museum’s programming and I just saw a really great Faith Ringgold exhibit at the New Museum that you can catch if you head there before it closes on June 5. Outside of NYC, I love Dia Beacon, the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, and MASS MoCA to name a few. Last month, I went and saw Guarding the Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is a whole show curated by guest curators from the BMA’s Security department from the BMA collection. As the people who spend the most time with the art, it’s really cool to see them get to spotlight their favorite works, and I love any projects that show how art is for everyone.
Do you still have a commute to work? If not, do you miss it? What do/did you like to do to pass the time?
I don’t commute right now, and I really enjoy having that time back in my life, and being able to stay, get up and do a YouTube workout, or go for a long walk in Greenwood Cemetery after work during the summer months. And avoiding the subway during rain, snow, and extreme heat is an endless blessing.
About Bev Rivero
Bev Rivero is senior publicist at Beacon Press. Before joining Beacon in 2021, Bev was the communications and marketing manager at the National Book Foundation, where she worked on the National Book Awards, promoted the Foundation’s public and educational programs, and led all social media and marketing campaigns. Prior to NBF, she was in publicity at the New Press for 6 years, where she worked with authors committed to social justice, including Paul Butler, Michelle Alexander, and many more. She has extensive experience promoting nonfiction and tailoring outreach campaigns that resonate with activists and change-makers. Bev is a NYC-based graduate of Johns Hopkins University, ardent supporter of indie presses, and a graphic designer. You can follow her on Twitter @LOLBev, where she mostly retweets content about books, pickles, and migrant justice.