Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Tale of Two Professional Hats

For many authors, the goal is just to get published. Others aim higher - writers shoot for novels on the New York Times Best Seller List, contracts with big time print houses, and a name that's familiar in their literary genre. Award-winning author, Lauren Oliver, has achieved all that before the age of 29. And to top it off? She recently co-founded a book development company that has gained massive media attention.

As an author, she goes by Lauren Oliver. As an editor, she goes by her real name, Lauren Schechter. The reason for the double name, she told Bloomberg Businessweek, is because "she wants to keep the roles of author and editor/entrepreneur separate."

As an author, Oliver's first two books, Before I Fall (2010) and Delirium (2011), have both been on the NY Times Best Seller List, and Fox 2000 has picked up both novels to be made into film. On the editor side of things, Schechter's new company Paper Lantern Lit is growing. PPL is about "building new voices," she says. The editor describes the company as a "literary incubator" for developing fresh author voices.

Paper Lantern Lit is interested in three principles: "versatility, integrity, and passion." Co-founders Schechter and Lexa Hillyer have made their organization stand out in many ways, the most distinguishing that PPL is a literary developing company, not a publishing house. In short, Oliver and Hilley explain on the PPL website that they "are interested in making books...not in manufacturing books - the paper, the glue, the covers, the pages. [They] leave that to the publishing giants. Instead, [they] develop stories. Paper Lantern Lit collaborates with great up-and-coming writers to help bring those stories to life."

So far, both of Oliver's/Schechter's career paths are blooming individually, but also cross each other. Oliver's latest book, Liesl and Po, just hit the middle grade lit world in September and Pandemonium (the second book in her Delirium trilogy) is due out in February; Schechter's company has sold more than 20 young adult books since its origin in 2010. When it comes down to it, though, the author/editor just cares about good stories, good books, and good authors. "A writer, at base," she said in a recent interview, "must understand people."

Check out the Paper Lantern Lit website here.
Pre-Order a copy of Pandemonium here.


  1. I'm torn. Is this a good or a bad thing for debut authors and writers trying to break in? This raises lots of questions...

  2. I agree - what does it mean for up-and-coming authors? Should you use your name as a marketing tool in all parts of your career? And should you be trying to make it in two realms simultaneously - writing and development - or just concentrate on one at a time in the beginning? Lots of questions indeed!