You are the Author of Your Business Story
With Trena White
Great stories begin in unexpected places. Trena White could not have foreseen the incredible journey she embarked on as she decided to build her brand. But now, a decade into being a Co-founder, Trena has many wonderful lessons about entrepreneurship to share.
Trena White is a veteran book publisher and co-founder of innovative book publishing firm Page Two, which publishes non-fiction books by leading industry experts. Page Two offers a faster path to market, more creative control, and deep engagement in authors’ launch strategies. Co-founders Trena and Jesse Finkelstein launched in 2013 to help thought leaders, subject matter experts, and organizations publish their contributions.
Page Two has published several books selling over a million copies and its authors have been translated into dozens of languages around the world. Trena is a nominee for the RBC Women of Influence Trailblazer Award. Before launching Page Two, she was publisher of Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books, Canada’s largest independent book publisher at the time; and an editor at McClelland & Stewart, now an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Page Two sets itself apart from other publishing companies by building more collaborative relationships with its authors. While traditional publishing focuses on retail sales, Page Two takes an in-depth look at how the book and its publishing strategy serve the greater needs of the client’s brand and eventual goals. The vision, methodology and niche of Page Two are all unique and fuel its success in the industry.
Entrepreneurs look for opportunities
Before they founded Page Two, Trena and Jesse were in senior roles together at a publishing company that was in the process of going bankrupt. Bigger companies considered buying it, but first – they wanted to see the numbers! Trena had to create models to show buyers what was possible.
All of this financial modeling gave Trena and Jesse an idea. What if they took what they had learned and created something entirely new? Not to be swayed from their big vision, they decided to launch Page Two while they were suddenly out of work and Trena was home with a brand new baby. Trena and Jesse were coworkers who respected one another’s perspective – but this leap of faith turned them into both Co-founders and great friends.
They got to work collaborating, planning and building a publishing company different from all the rest.
Action is better than perfection
Is there something in your own business you’re waiting to perfect before really getting started? Are you letting perfectionism hold you back?
Trena recalls the grassroots nature of their launch in 2013, and it’ll inspire you to ditch perfectionism for good. Page Two began finding clients using good old-fashioned networking and word of mouth. They even started serving those clients without official templates or systems!
Trena and Jesse didn’t have time to waste. They made plans and ran them past lawyers, branding experts and friends in publishing to make sure they held water. Page Two was a big dream that had to succeed, because the alternative was unthinkable.
What does scaling your business look like?
Every brand is unique, and each has different requirements as they scale and grow. For Page Two, Trena discusses a process of deepening – Adding depth to their customer service and working more closely with their authors, rather than experiencing rapid growth.
Rather than a plan to work with more authors, Trena reminds us of the importance of doing business with intention. At Page Two, they are becoming more and more selective about the authors they work with, leading to better outcomes through successful collaboration. Long-term, they’re appointing heads of each department so that they can step back and envision what’s next.
Page Two rose out of a need for better relationships between thought leaders and the people who publish them. But it’s grown into a thriving brand that Trena and Jesse – and the authors who publish there – can truly be proud of.
Enjoy this story of the power of collaboration, leaps of faith and bold action.
“In the traditional publishing model, there were a lot of constraints that made book publishing tricky for the kinds of people who had built a lot of intellectual property and had built businesses. Our vision was to start a new kind of publishing company where the author really partnered with us to develop their book in a way that made sense for them and their broader business goals.”
“We started to imagine, what would it look like if we took parts of this initial vision that we had created for someone else and ran with it our way? And created something new and different so that we could explore our idea of what publishing could look like for entrepreneurs and subject matter experts? That was the beginning of Page Two.”
“The clock was ticking. We didn’t have day jobs anymore! We had to make this work or…what? Neither of us wanted to leave book publishing. We both felt really inspired to create something new.”
“When we work with an author, we start at the very beginning about where their book fits into their other products and services. In most cases it’s meant to lift up the other services they’re offering as part of their company. We want to be careful that the book represents the company’s brand and it will support their other services meaningfully.”
“When we work with an author, we don’t license the rights to the book. This might sound technical but it’s critical. When you work in traditional publishing, you sign an agreement that says the publisher owns the rights to the copyright. We don’t do that. With Page Two, there are no constraints to what you do with the work. If an author publishes a book and you want to put three chapters in a workbook, you would be free to do that – and you wouldn’t normally be able to.”
“I was quite naive about what a business partnership would look like! Jesse and I had only worked together for a year. It could have gone so badly, but we have an amazing and really special partnership. Deep down, we have really similar values. When things get tricky and we’re debating a question of how to handle something, we have compatibility at quite a deep level that has carried us through.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Visit Page Two’s company website at www.pagetwo.com
Follow Page Two on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pagetwo
Follow Page Two on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/pagetwo_books/
Connect with Trena White on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/trenawhite
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