Lauren Oliver, author of the bestselling dystopian Delirium trilogy, has more on her mind than usual these days. She finished up a tour for Panic, her second standalone realistic YA novel, in the spring and will embark on a 10-city tour following the publication of her first adult novel, Rooms (Ecco), on September 23. But before she packs her bags and hits the road again, Oliver has news to announce – the launch of The Studio, a new digital imprint of Paper Lantern Lit, the boutique literary development company she cofounded with former HarperCollins and Razorbill editor Lexa Hillyer.
Since its formation in 2010, Paper Lantern Lit has shepherded dozens of titles into print, from Elizabeth Miles’s Fury trilogy (Simon Pulse) to Lauren Morrill’s standalone YA novel Being Sloane Jacobs (Delacorte) to M.E. Castle’s middle-grade Game of Clones series (Egmont USA). Now after four years and an increase in staff to five editors, a marketing assistant, and a rotating series of interns, the company is taking the leap from traditional print publishing into the digital realm.
Oliver attributes the decision to add ebooks to PLL’s growing print catalog as a way to maximize the company’s reach and to address what she sees as an oversight in current publishing methods. “There are new digital opportunities now that so many books are being self-published online. It’s a great place to experiment with format in interesting ways and even experiment with genres that people are still reading and craving but that maybe go against current market trends,” she said. “Obviously bookstore space is limited, but that’s a real disservice to the reading world that only realistic books are being published or only dystopian books. There are these perennial categories that people want to buy books in but can’t find them in stores so they buy them online.”
The Studio’s Launch
In its original incarnation, The Studio was intended to be a curated clearinghouse of previously self-published books that warranted more attention. “We struck up a partnership with a company that uses data to sift through tons of self-published books to see which ones are selling and getting better reviews,” Oliver said, referring to The Studio's publishing partner, Vook. “Then we’d acquire the ones we thought held great promise, edit them in the way that we do any book, give them great titles, covers and marketing plans, and republish them.” Subsequently, the imprint’s list has evolved to now include PPL originals – books cooked up by Oliver and her staff with debut or established authors attached.
In the five months since its soft launch in March earlier this year, The Studio has released two ebooks – Shana Norris’s YA romance novel The Boyfriend Thief; and Dollhouse, the first book in Anya Allyn’s The Dark Carousel series. Two more titles are expected this fall, including the lead title Eternal Night by Carina MacKenzie, a writer for The CW’s The Originals, a spin-off series of The Vampires Diaries.
“Eternal Night is about these six gods who are trapped in teenage form who are living in New York, and they have centuries of tension and romantic feelings and anger and resentment between them that had been building up for centuries,” Oliver said. “Carina has a rabid online following. She was a blogger obsessed with The Vampire Diaries and became a face of this fan base. We found her and thought she would be the perfect person to write the book.”
Though Eternal Night won’t be published until August 26, the book has already garnered significant attention online since the first chapter was posted on July 23 (a second chapter has since been added). A three-week ARC giveaway contest on Goodreads in mid-July received more than 1000 entries. A “What would YOU be a God of?” photo contest on Instagram Contest using the hashtag #GodsOfEternalNight, which ran July 28–August 17, promises a $100 Urban Outfitters gift card for the grand prize winner and copies of Eternal Night for three runners-up. And a two-week, 16-stop blog tour featuring interviews and giveaways is already underway until September 1.
“We are very proud of how much we support our books with marketing and promotion, and really try to be creative and rally around each specific title,” Oliver said.
The Studio and Beyond
Beyond The Studio’s inaugural year, Oliver hopes to produce at least five ebooks per list. In the meantime, she has other personal projects to attend to. Her latest novel, Panic, was optioned by Universal Pictures (script revisions are currently in the works). On November 25, a novella that was included in the first edition hardcover of Requiem, the final book in her Delirium trilogy, and written from the perspective of Alex – narrator Lena’s first love – will be made available to a wider audience.
Oliver also has a few new books in the pipeline. Vanishing Girls (HarperTeen), a psychological thriller about two sisters – one of whom is disfigured in a car accident and later disappears – will be published next March. A new middle-grade series is slated to debut in fall 2015 (details are currently under wraps). And another YA stand-alone novel, currently untitled, is expected in spring 2016.
As always, Oliver has several irons in the fire. But she’s determined to stay focused despite her packed schedule. “Sometimes it is really overwhelming, and there are days that are worse than others, but I love every aspect of it,” she said. “Obviously I love writing. I love editing. I love my company. I love working with Lexa. And I love the challenge.”