If you’re a Ballast or Blue Balloon Books author, chances are that you have crossed paths with Lauren Green. Lauren joined the Ballast Books team in 2019 as an acquisitions editor. She quickly demonstrated a knack for recognizing and addressing the needs of every project that crossed her desk, assisting Ballast authors with polishing their stories and helping Blue Balloon authors create beautiful children’s books.

Though the bar for quality at Ballast was already quite high, it was clear that when it came to author services, Lauren had brought an unmatched passion for producing expertly crafted books. In early 2023, Lauren became Ballast’s director of author services and now plays a role in every project published by Ballast and its imprints.

Lauren adds more than an eagle eye for incorrect comma use to the Ballast team. She is the first to suggest a fun catch-up with a fellow team member over coffee, makes sure to acknowledge every birthday and anniversary, and basically insists that every new team member complete a Harry Potter Sorting Hat quiz (it’s always good to know whether you’re working alongside a Hufflepuff or a Slytherin ;)).

While you may be most familiar with her in relation to her dedication to your book, Lauren took some time to answer some questions that’ll give you a better picture of the woman behind the red pen at Ballast.

First, let’s start with an easy one. Tell us where you live and who you share your home with:

I live in Fenton, Missouri—just outside of St. Louis—with my handsome husband, Jordan; precious baby girl, Annesley; and lovable Australian shepherd, Harper Lee.

Lauren’s Baby

Where did you meet your husband?

Jordan and I met in Kansas City! We were both attending college there, although I was a student at Rockhurst University, and he went to UMKC. We had mutual friends, but other than that, we had absolutely nothing in common. I was dead set on graduating with a double major (English writing and mass communication) and double minor (English literature and theology) with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Jordan was studying finance and probably didn’t pick up a book his entire undergraduate career (haha just kidding). Luckily, we bonded over late-night study sessions and Harry Potter marathons and eventually fell in love. Don’t they say opposites attract? ;)

A lot of people aren’t aware that editing is such a technical and demanding profession. When did you know that it was something you wanted to turn into a career?

I’ve loved books since I was an indignant three-year-old scolding my mom for trying to skip some pages while reciting my bedtime story. Reading and writing have always been a central part of my life, and I knew from the time I was in elementary school that I wanted to incorporate those passions in my future career.

This dream was further solidified when one of my poems was published in two different books when I was twelve. As I continued through school and developed my English skills, I fell in love with editing and knew I wanted to work in publishing one way or another.

Now, I truly feel that I’m working in my dream job! I spend a lot of my time editing, meaning I get to read day in and day out. Even better, I get to help authors tell their stories in the most effective way possible while preserving their message and voice. Plus, I get to write when I craft synopses, author bios, blog posts, and other assets. Most importantly, I have the honor of helping our incredibly talented authors get their books out into the world.

I am so glad I got on this path at the age of three. Little did that child know when she yanked the book out of her mother’s hands and read it by herself that she would one day be playing a key role in creating books for everyone to enjoy.

At Ballast, you not only edit our books, but you are also responsible for hiring and managing our team of editors. What qualities do you look for in an editor?

In the publishing world, we adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style, or CMOS. So, of course, we expect our editors to be intimately familiar with all the standards and conventions dictated by that stylebook. Other than that, when evaluating prospective editors, I always look for meticulous grammar and spelling (obviously) and strong attention to detail.

This may surprise you, but I also prefer to work with editors who have a growth mindset and acknowledge that they don’t know everything. Often, editors let mistakes slip in because they think they know the correct usage or formatting off the top of their heads. If they’re wrong, then they allow that error to be repeated throughout the manuscript. It’s much better to be willing to research things, check facts and names, and consult the CMOS than to be falsely confident in your knowledge. For example, I constantly check my editing resources to verify I have something right—even if I’m pretty sure I know it by heart! It never hurts to double-check.

One thing the acquisitions team at Ballast hears frequently from new authors is that they don’t think their manuscript will require much editing. What words of wisdom do you share with these authors?

Of course, at Ballast Books, we review every manuscript to determine the level of editing required. Certainly, there are some instances in which the author is right in saying their manuscript is in excellent shape. However, the mantra I share with every author is that everyone needs an editor—authors who have published a book before, people who studied English, even other editors!

That’s because writers are so close to their own stories that it’s hard for them to see the little things that creep into the manuscript. They may even miss big things like plot or chronological inconsistencies because their brain simply fills in the gaps automatically—but a reader will be left scratching their heads. Everyone needs a fresh pair of eyes to review the manuscript, address spelling and grammatical errors, and provide critical feedback to ensure the narrative is as strong and effective as it can be. That’s what we’re here for!

You’re also a writer. Do you find it difficult to make time for your own writing when you are so often immersed in the books of the authors you work with?

It can certainly be challenging to make time for my favorite independent pastimes, including writing, especially since I had my daughter earlier this year. However, I do make a point to prioritize writing when I’m in a creative mood or “in the zone.” In fact, I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing (or at least revising) this year. I’m proud to share that I plan to publish my first book with Ballast Books in May.

I am the oldest of three girls, and my middle sister was diagnosed with bipolar at age eight. Unfortunately, there were very few resources for me as a sibling, and even my parents struggled to find meaningful support as they considered how to best raise their daughter with mental health challenges.

This inspired me to write Bell Jar Butterfly, a memoir capturing my family’s experience with mental illness. It’s meant to share each family member’s perspective so any reader, regardless of their connection to mental illness, can relate to and gain insights from the story. My goal is to help other families going through similar circumstances feel less alone as they determine the best way to move forward together while taking care of the mental health of their loved one.

It’s safe to say that you read quite a bit “on the clock,” so to speak. What do you enjoy reading when the workday is through?

I have kind of a chaotic reading style actually. At any given time, I’m reading a handful of books at once. Usually, I’m juggling Harry Potter (duh), a literary classic, a mystery/crime novel, and a nonfiction work. Currently, I’m reading Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and The Dinner by Herman Koch. I’m also about to start the Harry Potter series again from the beginning :)

What else might we find you doing in your time off?

My favorite thing to do is just be cozy at home with my husband, daughter, and pup. When I do venture out of the house, I love listening to true crime podcasts in the car, going on walks in the nearby park with my family, and indulging in brunch with my friends. I have also never said no to going out for Mexican food and margs!

Since you are one of the longest standing members of the team, I have to ask: what is the best part of working at Ballast?

Without a doubt, the best part of my job is helping authors achieve their dream of publishing their work. Whether it’s a speech language pathologist creating an educational children’s book, an entrepreneur developing a groundbreaking manuscript to promote their brand, or anyone else eagerly seeking to share their unique message, our authors are everything to this company.

As the director of author services, I spend each day doing everything I can to ensure each project is moving along smoothly, quality is top of mind every step of the way, and authors are enjoying their experience (of course, our senior production editor, Kayleigh, is a key part of that as well). That just goes to show how important our authors are to me and to everyone at Ballast/Blue Balloon Books! It is such an honor to help the authors we partner with get their extraordinary books out into the world.

Finally (and obviously), readers need to know what house the Sorting Hat has placed you in.

Ravenclaw—“where those of wit and learning will always find their kind.” Fun fact: the majority of Ballast Books employees belong to Ravenclaw house! But we love our Slytherin, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff colleagues too, of course :)

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