Traditional vs. Self-Publishing for the Solopreneur

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Traditional vs. Self-Publishing for the SolopreneursAs a solopreneur in the online space writing a book seems like the thing to do. The thing that will build your list, increase your visibility and identify you as an expert.

And let’s get honest here, make you feel damn proud of yourself. A feeling you have every right to feel.

I’m the same boat. I’ve got a book idea swirling around in my head, trying to shape itself into something beautiful. Something meaningful.

Something I’ll be willing to stand behind for years to come, because that’s the way it goes with a book. It’s not a blog post, here this week, forgotten the next.

A book has staying power. Defining power.

The book I write, and the book you write, they will define much more than our latest social media update, most recent podcast interview or even the next program we launch.

Books are a big deal.

Even when everyone’s writing one.

So, as I dive into this world of book writing I decided it would be best to start educated as a way to work through at least some of the fears. I interviewed Trena White of Page Two, a book agency here in Vancouver, BC. Check out her impressive bio: 

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Trena White. Page Two

Trena White is the co-founder and principal of book publishing agency Page Two. She was formerly publisher of Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books, running a publishing program of sixty new books each year. Before that she worked as an editor at McClelland & Stewart, where she developed her commitment to excellence in publishing. Her authors have won or been nominated for most major national non-fiction book awards, and a number have been bestsellers. She has a master of publishing degree from Simon Fraser University and is now adjunct professor in publishing at the university.


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Talking traditional vs self-publishing for entrepreneurs like you and me, here’s what Trena shared with me:

If you’re going after the big traditional publishing dream (because really, who doesn’t want to get paid to write their book?) here’s what publishers are looking for:

1. Authors with deep authority & credibility

2. Ideas they haven’t seen before/A unique angle on an old idea

3. Solid writing skills

4. Author platform

The “author platform” peaked my interest and Trena explained that this doesn’t necessarily mean a big email list or social media following, as one might assume in the online space. It could mean being a popular keynote speaker, contributing regularly to a magazine or really any type of community the author has built.

Author platform = people ready and willing to buy your book.

And then, Trena turned that idea on it’s head and told me that many authors with the platform so desired by publishers are actually choosing to go the self-publishing route. Since they already have the audience there waiting for them to publish, they don’t need the sales and distribution support of a publishing agency.


Kinda makes self-publishing a no-brainer. You get to control the release date of your book (lining it up with some big launch you’ve got on the horizon) and you maintain creative control of your book.

But… to make your book a true success you still to have everything the traditional publishers want…. authority, unique idea, solid writing skills + platform.

AKA – You don’t get to show up, write crap, publish it and expect a big win.

They other key piece Trena brought up for self-publishers is personality. To be a successful self-published author you need to be willing to market yourself, to get out there and toot your own horn. You need to be ready to leverage that platform, get on the speaking circuit and sell your book.

No problem.


Us solopreneurs know how to market and sell 🙂

One would hope.


So the interview went on… we talked in depth about all of this and more: the most competitive book markets, the investment needed to self-publish and how to figure out what your audience wants you to write about. Plus, is it really OK to turn your blog posts into a book? You can get the recording of the whole interview here:

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“A book is something that brings together all of your ideas and expertise, pulling them together in a meaningful and thoughtful way… there is something special and admirable about writing a book.” ~ Trena White

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A couple more questions asked by my audience that didn’t get answered on the call:

“How much should I pay an editor?”

Page Two covered that here: How to Hire a Skilled Editor and What You’ll Pay

“What are your thoughts on crowdfunding a book?”

Check out this Page Two post: Guidelines for Crowdfunding a Book


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I hope this leaves you inspired. Encouraged. A bit more clear of which path you’d like to take. And if you think that Trena and her agency may be the right fit for you on this big adventure, visit their website Page Two and get in touch. Their depth of knowledge in the area of publishing will definitely make your journey to book author easier.

My next step in bringing my book to fruition is to block off time in calendar to dive in… to listen to my heart, to love up my big ideas and explore with enthusiasm the messages I could share with my audience, with you.


xo parrish

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    • parrish

      It can be tough to get accepted by a traditional publisher. And often business owners want to have more control. Timing is a big thing. This year I have seen a number of business owners put out a self-published book right before opening up registration for a group program. It’s a good way to get noticed and grow your list before making a sales pitch.

  1. I’m glad you included the Q&A about editing costs. As an writer and editor, I understand the value of editing. I know that even though I’m a strong editor of others work, I need an editor myself. Sometimes people overlook that or want to just have somebody else look it over.

    Design costs are another piece to consider too. (I haven’t listened to the recording yet, so maybe you get into other costs too.)

    Good stuff here—look forward to seeing you come out with a book!

  2. Great stuff!

    There’s a certain kudos in having a page on your website saying “here’s my book”.

    Most people think that getting published is a big deal that’s only for the most successful people. So don’t disappoint them 🙂

    Costs don’t have to be high – I’ve used Fiverr for covers before now (usually I pay for 3 or 4 and choose the best for the final design, it’s still cheap) and after the first book I’ve done my own formatting. There are YouTube videos aplenty that will take you by the hand for that.

    And of course if you’re not too modest to brag about being a published author that helps as well.

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