In all of the recent debate surrounding traditional publishing versus self-publishing, both models appear to be emerging as valid options for books. But while the Big Five aren’t closing up shop entirely any time soon–despite recent mergers and rumors of future mergers–and self-published authors continue to earn accolades and income, one entity in the publishing industry has been largely overlooked: literary agents.
Agents, once considered the first-round gate keepers to getting your book published, have had to look for new ways to continue their relevance in a rapidly changing book market. Some agents, such as Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency and Scott Waxman of Waxman literary, were the first to embrace digital publishing as a viable option for their clients, citing the desire to get a client’s book “out there,” regardless of the interest from publishers. Ebook-only or digital-first became an opportunity to not cast aside a quality book that just hadn’t found its place in the market.
What first grew out of a desperate need to not dismiss a book that agents felt strongly about has now grown into a viable first option for many authors and agents. Just as the industry has embraced hybrid authors and hybrid publishers, companies like Paper Lantern Lit and its resulting publishing arm The Studio, co-founded by Lexa Hillyer and bestselling author Lauren Oliver, have emerged to work with these authors in a one-on-one capacity.
“The Studio is a boutique digital imprint,” explained Hillyer in an interview with Good e-Reader. “We publish e-only, with the intention that we build a platform for authors and attract the attention of others rights holders like print publishers and foreign publishers. We grow authors from the ebook format first, even though we come from a traditional publishing background.”
In the traditional industry, the first step was always a hardcover edition to build an audience, then follow up with the lesser expensive paperback. But in a time when ebooks are selling in record numbers, it makes sense to begin with an edition that reaches almost as many readers as print without the prohibitive investment in printing. Powered by Vook’s award-winning ebook construction tools, The Studio will release the digital edition ahead of any plans for print.
The Studio’s parent company, Paper Lantern Lit, grew out of a desire to work with authors to develop their books in a way that would appeal to a larger readership. “We wanted to come in and work with really talented writers and help them to develop their stories,” explained Hillyer.
Once the work was complete, PLL would then shop the books to publishers, just as any literary agency would do. But with the advent of ebook readership, the company realized that a much more streamlined process would be to release the ebooks first in order to build a following for the books, just as those same publishers once did with hardcovers. But unlike self-publishing services, PLL’s The Studio works with authors in the same type of royalty structure that a publisher would, absorbing the cost of services to later be compensated by royalties from the sale of the books.
The company launched last week with its first four titles: The Boyfriend Thief, Dollhouse, Eternal Night, and Beautiful Girl. While focusing on YA and NA, PLL does have projects in various genres and is open to submissions.
“There’s a space in between self-publishing and traditional publishing where we can live.”