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The Published Author Podcast

PUBLISHER AT PAGE TWO BOOKS ON HOW THEY COACH THEIR AUTHORS TO SUCCESS

It’s no surprise that Vancouver-based Page Two Books is making a name for itself as an outstanding book publisher.

Launched in 2013 by Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White, Page Two is one of the few hybrid publishers that offers print on demand or trade publishing. It also has a well-earned reputation for rigor throughout its processes. 

Talking to Published Author Show host Josh Steimle, Trena said Page Two doesn’t usually refer to itself as a hybrid publisher, because so many things set it apart. 

BEYOND HYBRID PUBLISHING

She explains: “We have not typically used that (hybrid) phrase ourselves, because we feel that we're bringing a level of professionalism that you don't always see in the space.”

While authors do pay Page Two to produce their book and provide the support expected from a publisher. They handle absolutely everything, including editing, design, production and sales and marketing, and distribution. 

Page Two doesn’t license their rights to the book, so an author retains total ownership of the book content and their intellectual property, which is very critical, because they are typically entrepreneurs and experts who are using that IP in all kinds of ways. When a book sells, an author earns 90 to 100% of the proceeds of the sale, depending on how it is sold.

But what really sets Page Two apart is the rigor they apply throughout the entire process. With the editorial process alone, a book can go through multiple rounds of substantive editing to sharpen the content, structure, and stories. 

“We're quite rigorous about our approach to setting the book up for sale in the market and digging into titles, subtitle, pricing, and all of those things that play into bringing the book to market. In the hybrid space, we are quite unusual in that rigor,” says Trena.

THE AUTHOR’S BROADER GOALS

When Page Two begins working with an author, they do not think of a book as an object that comes to market. Trena says Page Two aims for peer-to-peer relationships with their author clients. They will work with an author around:

  • Understanding how a book fits into an author's goals
  • Integrating the book into the author’s products and services 
  • Ensuring the book and it’s design into the author’s brand
  • Making a cover stand out on Amazon

TRADE PUBLISHING OR PRINT ON DEMAND?

Trena explains that the approach to publishing depends on an author’s goals and where their audience is based. 

“For instance, if an author wants to get a book into the market as fast as they can, print on demand is a better option for people who need to move quickly. The cycle to create the book and the production timeline is shorter, and the distribution timeline is shorter, too,” says Trena.

For an author like Phil Jones, who worked with Page Two to write and publish Exactly What To Say, it soon became apparent that there was a much broader market for the book. Exactly What To Say  began as print on demand, but then became a trade publishing project. The book has now been translated into more than 15 languages!

MAKING BOOK DISTRIBUTION EASY

Page Two works with a distribution company called Macmillan Distribution, which is a large, multinational publisher, Macmillan takes on select smaller publishers for sales and distribution. The company sells Page Two books and is able to open up new opportunities. 

“For example,” says Trena, “they’ve just sold one of our business books into FedEx locations across the US. That's the kind of opportunity that you don't see through print on demand sales.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF AUDIENCE

Trena says one of the big keys to success for nonfiction authors is thinking well ahead about building an audience, even years before the book exists. She says authors must build a following and begin marketing before the launch date.

“Try and find ways to connect with your audience so that when the book exists you can engage them. Amazing things happen when you do that,” she notes.

A stellar example is author Joey Remini, an entrepreneur who specializes in tinnitus and vertigo. Joey has built a following and an audience over the years, with 1000s of people in her Facebook group. She offers different tiers of training and courses. When she published her book Rock Steady late last year, she sold a phenomenal 7000 copies in the first week. 

Learn more: If you appreciated this episode, listen to:

Mortgage Banker In Awe Of Power Of Books Sets Up Publishing Company

And:

She Built a $19M Business Helping Life Coaches Write Books

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ABOUT THE HOST

The Published Author Podcast is hosted by Josh Steimle, founder of Published Author. Josh is a book author himself and his article writing has been featured in over two dozen publications including Time, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, and TechCrunch. He's a TEDx speaker, the founder of the global marketing agency MWI, a skater, father, and husband, and lives on a horse farm in Boston. Learn more at JoshSteimle.com.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Today my guest is Trena White. Trena is the co-founder and principal of Page Two, an award-winning publisher of non-fiction books by entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, CEOs and others. She's worked in book publishing for 20 years and has worked for big name publishing houses, such as Greystone Books and McClelland and Stewart. Trena, welcome to the show.

Trena White:

Thanks so much, Josh. I'm happy to be here.

Josh Steimle:

So, for the audience, I'm excited to interview you Trena, because I wasn't familiar with page two before, or I should say I got familiar with some of the books that your publishing house had published before I knew what Page Two was. And so when I saw Page Two's website and I was looking at books, I was like, Hey, I know that book. I love that book. Hey, I know that book too. I love that book. And so I realized I've got to talk to somebody at Page Two and find out what they do, because a lot of the books coming out of your company are books that I really like a lot. So, I'm excited for this interview today. So, Trena, first off, give us a little bit more about your background, who are you and what led to you becoming a publisher in the industry? Because that's not the type of thing, you know, five-year-old girls say when they're little is, Hey, I want to be a book publisher someday.

Trena White:

No, it's not. Although in hindsight it's not surprising that I became a book publisher because when I was a five or six-year-old girl, I did publish a little neighborhood newspaper and knocked on doors and went and sold it to my neighbors. I would write up the local news and sell it to them. So, I think that part –

Josh Steimle:

So, it did start, yeah.

Trena White:

Yeah, I was always a book publisher at heart or a publisher at heart, for sure. So yeah, as you mentioned, I've been in book publishing for about 20 years now. And I got my start. I had been working in various communications jobs and then when it dawned on me that you actually could have a career making books, I thought that is the best thing I could ever imagine. And of course that's what I should do. And so I did a program called the master of publishing degree at Simon Fraser university in Vancouver. And that's what got me going in the industry. As part of that program, you have to do an internship. And so I went to Toronto and I interned at a company called McClelland and Stewart, which is now part of Penguin Random House. And it was an interesting time because the company was going through a lot of change, you know, new publisher. They were also being purchased by Penguin Random House. So, there was a lot of upheaval and new leadership and it ended up, I ended up getting hired to work at the company and then held a series of publishing jobs over the years on the editorial side of things. And then eventually moved back to Vancouver and worked for an independent publisher there. And then when that company entered creditor protection, my now co-founder and I started to talk about what we might want to do together. And we basically came up with a plan of starting our own publishing business, but we had been, since we'd been through that bankruptcy and she had been through another one, you know, we were cautious about it. And we knew that we needed to do something that was going to be a little bit different, not necessarily following the traditional model. We also felt that the kinds of authors we wanted to work with were entrepreneurial. They were the subject matter experts. And we felt that the traditional publishing model that we had been working in wasn't actually necessarily the best fit for the kind of authors we wanted to support. So, we came up with a different kind of model and launched Page Two. It looked quite different than eight years ago when we launched it than it does now. But our vision for the kind of author that we serve has stayed the same throughout. It's really those, it's the kind of people you interview and you speak to in your podcast really.

Josh Steimle:

Now Page Two is a hybrid publisher, correct?

Trena White:

It is a hybrid publisher and, you know --

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. So, for those who aren't familiar with that term, explain to us what that is and exactly what that means for you.

Trena White:

Yeah. So, hybrid publishing is quite a big catchall phrase for this whole kind of middle ground of publisher that lies somewhere between self-publishing and traditional publishing. And generally what it means is that the author is investing in some way in the book and in the creation of the book. And then generally they earn more on the backend. So, when the book actually sells, they earn more than they would in a traditional publishing scenario. I say generally, because there's just, you know, all kinds of variation out there in the hybrid publishing space. And in fact, to the extent that we have not typically used that phrase ourselves, because it's just, it's difficult to, we feel that we're bringing a level of professionalism that you don't always see in the space. And so the way we work is that our authors do pay us to produce their book and basically, you know, provide the support that you would expect a publisher to provide. So handling, editing, and design and production and sales and marketing distribution and then, and then they, we do not license their rights to the book. So, they retain total ownership of the book content and their intellectual property, which is very critical because they are typically entrepreneurs and experts who are using that IP in all kinds of ways, you know, as part of their business, the book is one expression of their expertise, but often they're running courses and training and doing speaking and so on. So, that ownership piece is really critical for our authors. And then when their books sell, they earn 90% to a 100% of the proceeds of the sale, depending on, you know, how it sold.

Josh Steimle:

And you mentioned professionalism. And for me, what stands out is cover design. I've looked at a bunch of the cover designs from the books that you've done. And I think while these covers just look better than most of the covers I see out there coming from a lot of other hybrid and traditional publishers. But when you talk about a different level of professionalism, what else are you talking about in addition to that?

Trena White:

Yeah, it's really, thanks for your comments on the design. We do have a really, you know, we're, I'm really proud of our design team, they do great work for sure. But it's the rigor throughout the entire process. So, that starts from the editorial work that we do with our authors to shape the concept of the book, because that's a distinction. We don't expect our authors to come necessarily with the idea fully formed and fully outlined. We will work with them to shape it. So, it's the rigor of our editorial process where we go through multiple rounds of substantive editing, really shaping the content and the structure and the stories and so on, and the idea, so that it communicates the author's intention to the best of their ability. And then of course design, it's the work we do on positioning the book for the market. So, you know, it's quite, it's one thing, we're basically working as a service provider to the author, but we also always have the reader in mind, you know, we're trying to make a book that is commercially viable. And so we're quite rigorous about our approach to setting the book up for sale in the market and digging into titles, subtitle pricing, and, you know, all of those things that play into bringing the book to market. And, you know, it's just not the case that, that doesn't happen consistently in the hybrid. We are quite unusual in that rigor.

Josh Steimle:

Got it. So, why would or why should an entrepreneur/author, why should they consider working with a firm like yours versus going to a Penguin Random House, or some sort of traditional publisher, assuming they could get that kind of deal or just self-publishing and figuring it out on their own, what's, where's the value, what's the, what's the type of client that really gets the value out of the services that you bring that's the right fit?

Trena White:

Yeah. That's a great question. So, I would say, I mean, the benefit to working with us compared with self-publishing is that you're working with a team of true book publishing professionals. You know, many of our team members have worked at Penguin Random House, or, you know, other traditional publishers, many of them have won awards for their work. And so you get the benefit of having creative control over your book and ownership of your IP, but you don't have to learn everything there is to learn about book publishing in order to do it successfully. You've got a team that has your back really from beginning to end and as they're doing the heavy lifting in partnership with you. The different, the benefit of working with a company like Page Two versus a traditional publisher would be, it's really about the fact that when we work with an author, we're not thinking of the book just as an object that we're bringing to market for sale. We're thinking about how the book fits into the author's broader objectives. So, we're really thinking about the authors goals for the book right from the beginning, how does the book support their business? How does it fit in to the other products and services that are part of their businesses ecosystem? What branding considerations are there as a result of that? You know, what does that mean for the launch timing? These are all considerations that we make in tandem with the author, because we really see the book as part of their broader business. So, I think that is one of the big differences and the big considerations. It's really, it's really about, it's a model, how we think of it as a model of partnership and collaboration, where I had an author actually say to me just last week, she said, I get what you're doing. It's not a parent child relationship that you have with your authors. It's a peer to peer relationship. And that's really how we approach it, where the author is right with us, making decisions about the book at every single stage. So, you know, when we design a cover, for instance, since you commented on our design, our design process begins with a focus design meeting with the author, where we talk to them about their brand and about their aesthetic values and, you know, anything that we should know about what would make sense for them to see reflected on the cover. And then of course, we're also looking at what are the conventions of the category and how do we make it stand out on Amazon is a thumbnail and all of the things that you consider as you design a book cover, but it really starts with a conversation with the author about their vision for that. And then we go away and come back with usually about a dozen different cover directions as a very first starting point. In a traditional publishing scenario, you know, when I was an editor working for traditional publishers, we would just deliver to the author a cover, one cover, and we'd say, no, here's your cover, we really hope you like it. Our sales team, here's your cover, sales loves it, marketing loves it, and we hope you do too. And then if you don't, then, you know, the conversation can become a bit tricky and the author doesn't have a lot of power in that conversation really. So, it's just, I use that example just to show that we really kind of the authors, they write with us along the way developing the book. And that's the big difference. That's not going to be for everybody. But for a certain kind of author that is really appealing.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. And I can appreciate that because when I published my first book, they provided me a cover design. My publisher gave it to me and I looked at, and I said, oh, this kind of looks like a textbook or something. Can we work on this? And thankfully they were willing to work with me, but there was a process there. And it would've been very easy for me to just say, well, they know what they're doing, and they're the experts, but I was thankful that they were willing to engage in some, give and take. And give me a say in what the cover looked like.

Trena White:

Yeah. I mean, that's ideally how it goes, even in a traditional publishing arrangement, but most traditional contracts put a publishing contract specify that the publisher has the sole authority to finalize the price, the title, the marketing plans, the cover design. And so you're just starting right off at the offset with it. There's a power imbalance really. And so we've also been working with quite a lot of authors who have worked with a traditional publisher and have decided for a variety of reasons that they want to do it a different way the next time around and often it is that desire for creative input that they're choosing, but it also is about the earnings. Because even though you pay for our services, it's an entrepreneurial undertaking, right? The author is basically investing in their work and if it does well, they stand to earn much more over the long-term than they might through the advance that they would get in the subsequent royalties that they would get in a traditional scenario. Of course, it depends if you're, you know, a big name, household name, business book author than that, that's a different story perhaps. But a lot of them say, you know what, I've just, I'm not earning what I think I should be earning off my book sales. And so I want to publish in the model where I have the opportunity to actually make a bit more off of it.

Josh Steimle:

At what point would you tell a client or a potential client coming to you, at what point would you tell them you really should go work with a traditional publisher? That's the right fit for you? Or is there any point at which you would say that?

Trena White:

Yeah, that's an interesting question. You know, I often say that I'm more to fiction authors and we don't publish fiction, but I actually think for literary fiction authors, traditional publishing is the way to go. For the clients of, for authors who are writing, you know, books that are an expression of thought leadership, you know, for the entrepreneurs and the subject matter experts who are reading business books and personal development books and so on, once you reach a certain profile, for me, it does get a bit hard to, it would be a bit hard to recommend a traditional publishing scenario. I feel like you really can have the best of both worlds. And so it would be, it would be rare, I think, for me to make that recommendation.

Josh Steimle:

Cool. Now, why would you say that fiction might be a better fit with traditional publishing? What's the difference between fiction and nonfiction that makes that a different bit of advice from you?

Trena White:

Because I think it's, I think fiction depends on, it's harder to build a community, it's harder to build a following around, around literary fiction unless you've been out doing it for a while. Whereas with non-fiction, you can build an audience well in advance through all of the other things you're doing to support your business, right? And people come to you as an expert on a specific topic, which is just a very different thing from fiction.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. I see exactly what you're saying there, because if you're out speaking and consulting and doing things, you're building up an audience, you're building up a platform there and you can, you can build up a platform through blogging or social media or all these things, but it's not like JK Rowling could have gone out before she published Harry Potter and say, Hey, join my email list because I'm going to write this great book someday.

Trena White:

Yeah. It's just, it's very, it's very difficult. And so I think fiction authors rely more on the kind of, the kind of marketing and sales and distribution that you can see through a traditional publisher, you know, access to literary awards and things like that that can increase exposure for them. But I also want to be clear that I come from a traditional publishing background, right. And I don't, I have total respect for that part of the industry. It's just for the entrepreneur, who's out building an audience and a platform. I really feel that a hybrid direction can make a lot more sense.

Josh Steimle:

Great. Can you walk us through some case studies of clients that you've worked with? I know for my part, I really loved one of the books I read first that came out of Page Two was exactly what to say by, I think Phil Jones, right?

Trena White:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

And I read that book and it's a very different book. It's very short, it's very quick read. And for that reason, I read it four times in two days because I read it and I finished it. I was like, oh, that was so quick. And that was so good. I'm just going to read it again. And then I read it again. And then the next day I read it again and I thought this is a fantastic book. And it's so quick and short, it's like a different way of looking at a book. I don't know if you can speak to that one directly, but I would be curious to know behind the scenes, like what went on with that book, because I suspect there might've been some give and take or negotiating going on behind the scenes where somebody was saying, he may have been saying, I want this to be really, really short and you were saying are you sure you want it that short or?

Trena White:

Yeah, there, I think there are a couple things to unpack there. And the first is that one of the things we're becoming known for at Page Two is shaking off some conventions that don't necessarily make sense anymore given the way books are sold. And we have published a number of quite short books, including Exactly What to Say, The Coaching Habit and The Advice Trap by Michael Bungay Stanier, all three of those books are less than 30,000 words. Whereas a traditional business book is usually, you know, 60 to 80,000 words. So, they are very, very short. And that's deliberately so first to make them easy to read for, you know, their business books for people who may not have a lot of time, or they have a lot of competition for their reading time and their media consumption time. It's also really the belief that there's no reason a book has to be 60 to 80,000 words. That is really an older convention that comes from publishers believing that a book needs to have a spine of a certain width so that it stands out and is visible on a bookstore shelf. But now we live in an environment where, you know, the majority of books are bought online, so that tradition doesn't necessarily make so much sense anymore. And so in that case with Exactly What to Say, it was really it actually, Phil Jones had originally self-published quite a different version of that book years earlier. And then he came to us, he completely rewrote the content. So, it was all new content, but similar concept, which he had tested in a self-published version and saw that there was a market for it, an appetite for it, it was, you know, 25 key phrases anyone can use in a conversation to be more persuasive, basically is what the book is. And then, and it's just so functional. It's the kind of book a salesperson can refer to quickly before a conversation. We designed it in a way that it has lots of pull quotes and sidebars. And so you can just dip into the text really at any point, you don't even need to read it in a linear way necessarily. Our creative director, Peter Cocking would say that that kind of design, it's, it's great for people who aren't necessarily book readers, right? They want the information, but they're not necessarily somebody who's going to sit down and read 300 pages from beginning to end. So, it was designed very deliberately that way. And one of the interesting, in addition to the length, one of the really interesting things about the strategy for Exactly What to Say is that Phil has done, he has sold tens of thousands of books through bulk sales because he's a sales trainer. And so he does a lot of speaking and so on, and has sold his book in bulk to many of his clients over the years, and we've done many adaptations of it to customize it for specific clients. So, for instance, he sold 10,000 copies to a photography association and we put the photography associations logo on the cover. You know, they have a message from the head of the organization in the front of the book. And then Phil actually changed examples throughout the entire book to be photography specific. And so we've done probably about a dozen different custom additions for that book over the years for specific sectors and specific clients of his. So, it's another way, you know, because he owns the rights to the book. He can play with the material and quite creative ways that serve his goals, you know, his broader corporate goals.

Josh Steimle:

Well, that's great. And I need to get him on the show so I can ask him this next question, but can you speak at all to the success that he's seen in his business as a result of that book?

Trena White:

Yeah. You know, it's, I would love to hear what he would say about that. To me, you know, watching him run with this. I think the success of the book, I think it would be hard to parse the impact the book had on his business because the book and his business are so intertwined. So, for instance, the year that he, that we launched Exactly What to Say, his keynote, that he was delivering was called Exactly What to Say. And so the keynote was selling the book, the book was selling the keynotes and it was just this kind of mutually reinforcing system. But he's now sold almost a million copies of this book. And so it's, you know, it definitely has worked by any measure I would say.

Josh Steimle:

So, how do you keep up with that kind of demand or how is that handled? Like how do you handle the printing process of his book, for example, is that something that you work with printers exclusively, or was this a print-on-demand book or how do you handle that?

Trena White:

You know, so with that book, we actually initially set it up for sale through print-on-demand. And for people who aren't familiar with what that means, basically, you know, you can make a book set up the files and the data for a book online, and that gets fed out to Amazon and other online bookstores. And then when a consumer buys the book, the book gets printed up virtually overnight and then shipped out to them. So, it's both the printing and distribution method. And from the reader's perspective, it's just a book. It doesn't, it doesn't look any different, their purchasing experience is no different. It's just a difference in manufacturing and more than anything. So, we initially set his book up in that way and then it started to take off and we saw, okay, there's a bigger demand here. And so we switched to a different distribution mechanism which is called Trade Distribution, where the book is printed in advance. It's shipped to warehouses and then sold into the whole book trade, the physical stores, as well as online stores, libraries, you know, specialty stores and so on.

Josh Steimle:

And what is the advantage of, and what is the advantage of doing trade publishing? Or why did you go there at a certain level of sales?

Trena White:

Yeah. You know, so this is one thing that is quite different about us is that we do have these two streams for publishing the book print-on-demand or trade distribution. And there is, there are very different strategies. So, often I would say for authors who are publishing a book, that's more about building their --

Josh Steimle:

Let's restart the recording and then if you know where to jump in, you can jump in and we'll splice it together.

Trena White:

I'll jump in.

Josh Steimle:

All right. So --

Trena White:

So yeah, so basically I would say it comes back to what the authors goals are. So, when we talk about their sales and distribution strategy, it really depends on what their goals for the project are and where their audience is likely to be found. So, for instance, for some of our authors they want to get a book into the market as fast as they can. You know, maybe there's a specific event that they want it to be released for. And print-on-demand is a better option for people who need to move quickly because the cycle to create the book, basically the production timeline is shorter and the distribution timeline is shorter too. So, that would be one reason you might go in that direction. For somebody like Phil Jones, the idea was okay, we see it selling through Amazon really well. This might tell us that there's a much broader market out there. And if we were to put it into brick and mortar stores, what could we do with this? You know, maybe there's an opportunity to sell it through Barnes & Noble through libraries and you know, other places. So, we thought we would try to expand his reach to the extent that that was possible. And that, that was why we made that switch. Our books are distributed by a company called Macmillan, which you'll be familiar with, but it's one of the, it's one of the large multinational publishers. And they take on select smaller publishers for sales and distribution. So, they sell our books and they are able to open up opportunities that are new. For instance, they've just sold one of our business books into FedEx locations across the US, you know, that's the kind of opportunity that you don't see through print-on-demand sales.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, for sure. Now, with IngramSpark, you get some more distribution than you would get with Amazon. You can get some library, you can get some other distribution, but what's, can you tell us about some of the finer details? What's the difference between trade publishing and like an IngramSpark that kind of sits in between Amazon and trade?

Trena White:

Yeah. The thing with IngramSpark is, yes, you can set and we use IngramSpark for people who are, who want to publish their book through print-on-demand. We'll set books up for sale on IngramSpark. But there isn't a sales team that comes with IngramSpark. That's really the big difference, right? You are the sales team because you're trying to drive people to buy your book online, where for the most part, yes, libraries can buy your books, but there isn't somebody out meeting with libraries and pitching your book to them, which is what happens when you sell your book through a company like, you know, McMillan through a sales team. They have a sales team of over a hundred people that meets regularly with Amazon, but also library wholesalers, and, you know, the full extent of the book market. So, that the difference. It's that it's the creation of new sales opportunities. Print-on-demand is more, passive isn't the right word, because you still have to be extremely active with your marketing, but it's more consumer facing marketing, whereas there's this whole B2B marketing that happens with the trade.

Josh Steimle:

Right. So, you could go with IngramSpark and you could see all this additional distribution, but essentially you're going to be doing the sales yourself, if you want to get or take advantage of those channels. And if you're a, if you're a self-publishing author,

Trena White:

That's right. I mean, and the reality is that most, most bookstores, basically you have to make bookstores aware that your book exists if it's on IngramSpark, how did, how do you let them know it exists? You also have to set up a discount for them that reduces your earnings on sales of the book. So, so yeah, there's just some different things to consider as in, as you decide on that strategy.

Josh Steimle:

And I interviewed, sorry, go ahead.

Trena White:

Oh, for the most part, I would say if you're using IngramSpark, just you almost pretend that you just think that you're not selling to brick and mortar, it's just not going to be a significant part of it.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. I interviewed somebody who actually did go into individual Barnes and Noble stores and got them to buy the book. But I mean, they had to do this one at a time and maybe they hit up five or 10 of them and they got them to buy some books. But of course that took time and effort and work, and most authors are not going to want to do that.

Trena White:

Exactly. Yeah. If anything's possible, but how much energy do you want to put into that? You know, it's, it's and local bookstores are always really happy to support local authors too. So, if you're, if you're self-publishing your book or using tools like IngramSpark, probably you can go to your local bookstores and get them to take it on. But the kinds of authors we support just typically wouldn't, wouldn't have a lot of time or energy to do that.

Josh Steimle:

Now what about international and foreign language distribution? Is that something that you handle as well?

Trena White:

Yeah, we do. So, our books are sold internationally through Macmillan and in Canada through an equivalent company called Raincoast, but that's the English language edition. We also have a network of about 25 agents in countries around the world that sell translations to our books. So, you know, they're, in their countries and they know the publishers and editors in their countries and pitch our list to the right people in their countries. So, we've sold, you know, really all over the world and had our authors books translated into many different languages. We basically feed them, feed these agents information about, you know, any news that we have about the book we feed to them to try to stoke interest in translation deals and Exactly What to Say has been sold in something like 15 to 20 languages now for instance.

Josh Steimle:

That would be an interesting book to translate because a lot of things to say, don't, you don't say them the same way in other cultures or languages that you can't just use Google translate to do that job for you.

Trena White:

It's true. And of course with the translation, the author can't, he could run the translation through Google translate to see how it checks out, but he has to, he has to really trust that the publisher buying the rights is translating it effectively. It's hard to check the nuances.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. That's a tricky business. Well, this is great. So, are there any other case studies that might be especially relevant for our audience of entrepreneur authors as they try to launch their books and get their books out there, or they consider your services? You mentioned The Coaching Habit. That's another one of my favorites and I was pleased to see that that was a book that you guys put out, but are there other case studies that you feel like are especially relevant?

Trena White:

Yeah, I would say somebody who comes to mind is a woman, an Australian woman named Joey Remenyi and she is a specialist in, she's an entrepreneur who specializes in tinnitus and vertigo. And we published her book Rock Steady about six months ago. And because she has built a following and an audience over the years, you know, she has thousands of people who participate in her Facebook groups for instance, and who've taken her courses. She has different tiers of courses and things. When we launched that book, she sold 7,000 copies in the first week because she has such a committed audience. And so I mentioned that because I think that's really one of the big keys to success for a nonfiction author. It's all about thinking about how you're building that all audience and the following and the marketing that you're doing years before the book even launches. You know, you’re just trying to find ways to connect with your, with your audience so that when the book exists, you can engage them and amazing things happen when you do that.

Josh Steimle:

That's fantastic. So, I know the question every listener has on their lips is how much does this cost if I work with Page Two? And I know it's different, depending on the mix of services that people hire you for, but do you have a range, like a minimum and maximum or average that you generally tell people to expect if they engage your services?

Trena White:

Yeah, it's typically between $30,000 and $40,000 and then plus printing costs if we're, you know, actually printing physical books and warehousing them. And then depending on what marketing we're doing for the book there may be some additional marketing costs. So, we do talk through the project and the author's needs, you know, individually and come up with a plan for each individual author. But I would say that's a rough, rough range. And so, you know, it's not going to be for everybody. It is this, it is a significant investment. There's no question. And I would say we tend to be a fit for a more established entrepreneur who will often see it as part of their marketing budget or you know, part of, part of the cost of running their business.

Josh Steimle:

Other than the people who can't afford the service, who are some of the other entrepreneur authors that are not a fit that you might say, you know what, this might be a great book. It's just not a fit for Page Two.

Trena White:

Yeah. It's, it really tends to be people who are fairly new in their businesses. So, still the authors we work with are what we think of as subject matter masters. So, people who have really been working in their category and on their topic for many years and have really become well-known for whatever it is that they do. And so it's people who have, you know, recently left a corporate career and have launched their own business and maybe they're a year one or two, and still trying to figure out exactly what their niche is and who their market is and so on, those, those people typically, it would be rare for us to work with somebody who's really quite new in that way.

Josh Steimle:

Fantastic. Can you tell us briefly, what's the company look like in terms of structure, head count? Like what type of people do you have working there with you?

Trena White:

Yeah, we are 17 people now. So, it's my co-founder Jesse Finkelstein and I, and then a team of salespeople, marketers, editors, and designers. For the most part we're based in Vancouver on the west coast of Canada, but we are, of course, all working remotely. Now we have team members in Toronto. We have an editor in New York and we work with people across north America and around the world, we've had some European authors as well.

Josh Steimle:

And about how many books do you put out per year?

Trena White:

We're publishing about it's between 40 and 50 a year. Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

Great. Just curious with COVID hopefully coming to an end here soon. Do you plan on going back to the office and having everybody back in the office, or have you gotten addicted to working from home and you think it's kind of nice?

Trena White:

Well, you know, so I'm in a bit of a different position because I live in a small community called Roberts Creek and you have to take a ferry to get to my town. So, I have been commuting in two days a week before COVID anyway. And really we've always allowed our team to work remotely if that's their preference and many people do. I think after COVID it's just going to be a hybrid setup where people can choose to go into the office if they want to, choose to work from home. We've actually hired five people since September, so we've grown a lot during COVID and now our office is too small, so we're not really in a position to have all 17 people in the office at one time anyway. But I don't think anyone, I don't think many people are going to want to go in five days a week now that everybody's used to working from home. So yeah, they'll sign up for desk space. We'll see how it goes.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. Have you seen any changes in the publishing industry more broadly because of the pandemic?

Trena White:

You know, I guess the biggest change has been, I would say I don't feel there's been a dramatic change, but a few patterns have accelerated and most notably the increase of digital book sales. So, people are buying their books online and brick and mortar retailers have adopted to online sales to even independent bookstores. And this website bookshop.org, which is effectively almost the independence version of Amazon, if you will, has grown exponentially and is one of the big success stories of COVID, so many more online book sales and then digital formats of books are also selling at greater numbers than before. So, audio books and eBooks are seeing double digit growth. They were audiobooks had pretty, or sorry, eBooks had pretty much plateaued before COVID they're growing a little bit, but audiobooks have increased exponentially over the last year in terms of market share. So, those are the big changes I would say, you know, nothing that I think basically we've seen probably five to 10 years of growth in those areas in the last year and a half.

Josh Steimle:

That's interesting because it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for these independent bookstores, because it's hard to adjust to slow change sometimes, sometimes it takes a shock and then you say, oh my goodness, I need to go do this right now. And those changes that they've made might be what saves them and helps them. And it might be the fact that it was such an abrupt shock with all retail closing down that they said, Hey, we have to go online. We have to do more of this, but that might in the long run end up benefiting them.

Trena White:

Yeah, it might. It's, it's hard to say a lot of the independent bookstores are saying that online sales for them are extremely labor intensive and time consuming. So, to have to, you know, go pull the books off the shelves and have somebody packaging them up, they're just not well equipped for that in the way that Amazon is with its, you know, hyper efficient warehouses. But at least it's a possibility now and they know how to do it now. And, you know, I bet we'll continue to offer it as a service. And so, yeah, we'll, we'll see, we'll see where things land in the next few years.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. It will be interesting. Well, Trena, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to be here on the podcast. The website is Page Two with two spelled out.com, correct?

Trena White:

Yes.

Josh Steimle:

Is there anywhere else that people can connect with you online?

Trena White:

They can connect with either me directly or with Page Two on LinkedIn and Page Two is also on Facebook and Instagram if people want to look there.

Josh Steimle:

Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for being with us here today on the Published Author Podcast.

Trena White:

Thanks so much, Josh. I appreciate you having me.

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