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Publishing Professionals: An Interview with Lori Hettler

Lori Hettler is a freelance book publicist who has worked with approximately 50 different titles. Keep reading to find out more about her and what she does!

Hettler got into book publicity by accident. "I used to review small press books and developed a connection with one press in particular, who eventually extended an offer to assist with their marketing back in 2014," she said. "I did that for about two years and once I separated from that publisher, a few of their upcoming authors started reaching out, seeking my services. And it kind of grew from there."

By day, Hettler is an HR manager for a large off-price retailer. Because she does book publicity on the side, she has to be selective when it comes to who she works with so each book she's working with gets the attention it deserves.

"Not a dig on the day job, but I really look forward to the time I spend promoting my clients' books," she said. "Introducing people to amazing books they might not have otherwise heard of on their own is the highlight of my week!"

Currently, Hettler is working with Darrin Doyle on his upcoming short story collection, The Big Baby Crime Spree and Other Delusions, which is being released as part of Wolfson Press' American Storyteller's series (release date March 2021). She is also working with singer-songwriter Will Johnson on his debut novel If or When I Call, also releasing in March.

So, how does Hettler go about publicizing these books?

"As far as the service I provide, I help the author and publisher with online coverage," she said. "This involves creating a pitch list that includes bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers; literary magazines; podcasts; online reading series; and local radio and newspapers."

Usually, Hettler contacts people she already has built a connection with. But she also spends time seeking out new venues and reviewers based on each title's unique theme or setting.

"For example, since If or When I Call is written by a musician, in addition to literary venues, I am also reaching out to music platforms, since this book might be of particular interest to them."

Hettler's favorite part about freelancing is championing small presses.

"As a freelance publicist, I have a lot of control over which titles I take on. I'm not bound to promoting titles by any one specific publisher, so if I'm signing with an author it's because their work spoke to me in ways I just couldn't ignore. There's no better feeling than helping one of my authors land a review or interview in one of their dream venues."

Though Hettler enjoys being a publicist, she recognizes there are some difficulties as well.

"For me, I think the most challenging part is how expansive and exhaustive the internet is. There are endless venues to discover and countless readers who might be the perfect audience for your client's book, but it's impossible to find them all!"

Hettler also has some tips for authors who are trying to promote their work.

"I think the most important thing is to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest into the process. Hiring a publicist is a pretty big decision for an author. If they're well-established, many will come with a built-in network based on strong relationships with editors in a variety of venues that have been cultivated over many years. But you may also be well-established within the lit community. If that's the case, you may want to consider the time and potential stress a publicist could save you when all of the hard work is left in their capable hands. Don't be afraid to interview a few before making your decision to sign with one or ultimately go it alone!"

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