Jane Dystel Personal Essay


The expression “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” certainly applies to me. After leaving Georgetown Law School at the end of my first year, it never occurred to me to do anything but go into publishing. After all, my father had been in the business for his entire career, first on the magazine side (Esquire, Parents) and then as president of Bantam Books for thirty years. And, though I certainly wasn’t an extraordinary English student or even particularly well read, I dove right in.

I spent eighteen years on the publishing side doing everything from editing, to calling on the major chain bookstore accounts and magazine wholesalers, to actually doing the author tours myself. I planned publishing lists, made sales presentations and did annual budgets and five-year projections.

And, then, in 1986, I became an agent, and I have never looked back. I love to read commercial and literary fiction, memoir, biography and history. I am very interested in current events, politics, legal subjects and women’s commercial fiction of all kinds. I find science fascinating and am passionate about science and medical narratives.

The most important thing I have learned from working in the publishing business is that it is full of wonderful new ideas, creative ways of making them work and a group of superb people. I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything!