Five Digital Publishing Questions for Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

The Digital Book World Conference + Expo, kicking off on January 13, 2015 is packed with an incredible amount of information and ideas about the digital publishing landscape at a time of remarkable transformations. To help attendees make the most out of those three days, Digital Book World is sitting down with conference speakers to help lay the groundwork for conversations that will take place at the conference and continue for many weeks and months afterward.

This is the ninth installment in our “Digital Publishing Questions” blog series, featuring Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer, Co-founders of Paper Lantern Lit.

Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer, Co-founders of Paper Lantern Lit

Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer, Co-founders of Paper Lantern Lit

What do you think has been the most newsworthy event for authors in the past year around publishing and digital change?

Lauren: We’re interested in the new subscription model, the continued rise of self-publishing and e-only imprints and in the way that all media is now channeling directly to consumers via phones, tablets and laptops. There’s no question that both the social and technological scaffolding around entertainment is changing and continuing to change.

Lexa: The Amazon-Hachette dispute was a big deal in as much as it really rallied the entire writing community as well as the larger culture, highlighting the many contradicting viewpoints on pricing and the challenges those present to publishers and distributors. Is the most important value increased access at low cost? Preserving the author’s participation? Maintaining the role of traditional publishers and creating market stability? I think this brings up a lot of larger philosophical questions about our industry and who we serve.

Related: Publishers, Who’s Your Customer?

What are you anticipating as the big change we will see in 2015?

Lauren: I think we’ll continue to see attempts to unify branded authors and books with other ancillary forms of entertainment in central spaces online. I think we’ll see places like Amazon and iBooks attempt to sell and market books at the same time they sell and market, say, the TV programs and video games that might appeal to the same audience.

Lexa: In terms of content, I’m very interested to see how the YA/teen landscape in particular continues to shift over the next year. I tend to think that as the marketplace reaches or redefines “capacity,” the trend-based model of the past couple of decades may shift, replaced with a more “open” and thus unpredictable market in terms of genre, style and story. This could have a sort of scattering effect—it might be both incredibly liberating for creatives in the field as well as destabilizing, and would likely only continue to broaden the gap between top earners and the rest.

What is the most important thing publishers need to accomplish in 2015?

Lauren: More and more, publishers need to communicate directly with readers. The fans are there, online, looking to be fed. Publishers need to figure out how to feed them.

Lexa: Publishers must better quantify the scale at which their model works while streamlining to avoid market glut.

How is Paper Lantern Lit’s model of “building story” relevant in the digital space?

Lexa: We think it’s extremely relevant because we build not just narrative but also platforms for authors and individual titles, and we’ve already seen that make a difference in how our ebooks are able to get better than average reach.

Essentially we’re creating more than well-conceived and well-plotted books; we’re building an experience. In the future we aim to expand this “story experience” across other media, explore building story around brand partnerships and other new strategies.

Are there any companies (start-up or otherwise) now flying below the radar that you think may break out in 2015?

Lauren: Oyster isn’t exactly under the radar, but it has a unique presence in the subscription space and we’re excited to see it grow.

Lexa: We also have more up our sleeves when it comes to Paper Lantern Lit’s digital imprint, The Studio—stay tuned for news on that!

Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer are the Co-founders of Paper Lantern Lit, a literary incubator that develops narrative content and coaches authors through the writing process. They’ll be speaking on a panel at the Publishers Launch Kids Conference at Digital Book World 2015 called, “Building Story and Building Platforms: A Conversation Between Paper Lantern Lit and Susan Katz, President and Publisher of HarperCollins,” exploring new approaches to storytelling, content development and branding.

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