Paper Lantern Lit Nurtures New Talent Under Its Boutique Digital Imprint, The Studio
Paper Lantern Lit is a literary incubator that helps writers plot new story ideas and coaches them through the writing process. After helping an author complete a novel, Paper Lantern Lit sells it to a publisher. Neither a publisher nor an agency, Paper Lantern Lit has sold 30 books and made several movie deals to date. In March, the incubator moved into e-publishing with its digital imprint, The Studio. Below Paper Lantern Lit founder Lexa Hillyer explains what led to the Studio and its unique dedication to the author and the writing process.
What is the goal of Paper Lantern Lit and The Studio?
At Paper Lantern Lit, we're very process-focused and writer-focused. Our target audience so far has been middle grade and young adult readers, but with the launch of our new digital imprint, The Studio, we're looking to broaden our reach with new adult [DW1] and adult titles. The Studio is distributing its titles across all the major ebook retailers. However, our aim is the same-how can we do it better? How can we give everyone in the business more joy and satisfaction-the reader and the author?
How did you come up with the idea for The Studio?
When we knew we wanted to enter the digital arena, we took a look at the other e-imprints out there having success. Month9Books comes to mind as a fantastic example, and we admire what they're doing. However, both in content and approach we're interested in something a little different. While most of the large publishing houses are forming e-only (or e-first) imprints, we decided to launch The Studio as a way of offering curation and storytelling expertise in an area that can often seem overwhelmed by content-a means of honoring each title with the highest possible level of individualized attention.
How are you disruptive and innovative?
Well, we named the imprint The Studio in the first place because we see it as a creative space of constant work and development. Our unique approach is three-pronged.
The first aspect is editorial: We focus on refining each book's concept, then strengthen its structure chapter by chapter, and finally polish the prose, working closely with the author to make the voice stand out. While this may seem like a given, in fact, it's not. It can be difficult if not impossible to find that level of attention. Our staff is highly trained in the art of great storytelling, and we work with only the best marketing and design resources. I give my staff editorial "boot camp" exercises every Monday morning-that's how committed we are to constantly staying the best at what we do. We also invest a lot of our own budget into making these books gorgeous on the outside and perfect on the inside.
The second prong that makes us unique is our collaboration with Vook. Their highly-specified data allows us to minutely tailor our online marketing efforts for ongoing post-publication support, day-to-day, week-to-week.
The third prong is the financial component: We see our authors as true partners and our generous royalties and rights shares reflect that. We believe that the best kind of success is mutual for the publisher and author-that this is what invites the highest level of author participation in promotional efforts and in doing great, committed work.
Is your content reaching a previously overlooked audience?
We definitely see The Studio as a way to pursue both commercial literature as well as unique, cross-genre material-perhaps subject matter whose primary or first audience lives online and not in the bookstore.
We're a boutique-meaning we're not necessarily interested in growing outward as much as want to grow upward. While many other companies profess to value quality over quantity, the traditional publishing sphere is still very stuck on the Blockbuster model, which demands a large quantity of affordable acquisitions supported by the success of one hit. On the other hand, at The Studio, we're able to continue to increase the quality of our books and the experience of publishing with us. We plan to expand our reach and brand awareness, and stay adaptable to the formats in which our stories might best appear (whether that's webisodes or serialized e-shorts or interactive apps or something else entirely).