We chat with Amanda Lewis, Editorial Director of Page Two

Being a thought leader is no easy task. Every space is saturated, a cacophony of voices competing for the same listeners. So how exactly do you rise above the noise?

At Eighty-Eight, we often work with our clients to build, what we broadly refer to as, their thought leadership, which generally means the level of public awareness around their expertise in a given area.

Most often, this takes the form of contributed articles or op-eds, but can also encompass speaking engagements, lunch and learns and industry awards. On occasion, leaders in business (or frankly, in life) take what they’ve learned and go beyond writing articles to collect their advice in nonfiction books. That’s where Page Two comes in.

We sat down with their Editorial Director, Amanda Lewis, to learn more about Page Two, her career in publishing, and what it takes to turn kernels of wisdom into full-length books.

Jamie: Can you tell us a little about Page Two and how it differs from the work done in-house at traditional publishing houses?

Amanda: Page Two is a publishing agency that helps entrepreneurs, organizations, and subject matter experts publish non-fiction books. We help shape ideas, edit manuscripts, and take care of everything from design and production to sales, marketing, and distribution. In that sense, we’re very similar to traditional publishing houses, which is not surprising given that the majority of our staff members worked in senior positions in some of the top houses in Canada.

What differs is that our model enables clients to retain creative control, maintain their rights, and earn maximum royalties. There is no one way to approach a project, so we customize the experience for each client. We also have the capacity to take on all manner of projects—not just books in every non-fiction genre, but gallery catalogues, “niche” books, manuals, and richly illustrated lifestyle books.

Many people have always dreamed of publishing a book; we help them realize that dream.

Jamie: What about your personal career? How has that taken shape over the years?

Amanda: I started my publishing career back in undergrad, editing UBC’s literary journal and volunteering at the Word on the Street (now WORD Vancouver). I did my master’s in English literature, with specializations in book history/print culture and auto/biography, and from there I went on to manage the Adopt-a-Library program with the BC Book Prizes. Then I completed SFU’s summer publishing immersion workshop, landed an internship at Knopf Canada, and moved out to Toronto. I was quickly hired at Random House Canada and stayed there for eight years, rising from editorial assistant to editor and managing editor. I have always had an interest in editorial and production, so managing editorial suited me. I worked on amazing books while at Penguin Random House Canada (we merged in 2013), both fiction and non-fiction. I also mentored our editorial interns (more than fifty in all!) and ran the company’s sustainability committee.

In 2016 I quit my in-house editing job to go freelance and began working with the fine folks at Page Two, as Project and Development Manager. In 2017 I moved back to Vancouver because mountains, but also so I could work in the office and move into the new role of Editorial Director. I now edit the majority of our clients’ books, manage our freelancer relationships, oversee the company’s editorial vision, and bring on new clients.

Jamie: What are the major changes that you see in the publishing industry?

Amanda: There was a big shift about 10 years ago when ebooks exploded onto the scene. Many foretold the death of print, even the death of the book. They were wrong. Ebooks are here to stay, but so are print books, with sales and readership of print books increasing among millennial readers in particular. In traditional publishing, we’ve seen a lot of the big houses merging or trying new approaches for positioning books and authors. In Canada, the medium-sized publishing houses have mostly been pushed out, swallowed up, or reconfigured into new initiatives. Smaller houses are punching above their weight, and we’ve been seeing lots of wonderful new voices emerging there. A lot of authors are choosing to stay with smaller houses for the duration of their careers, rather than jumping ship to a larger house.

From a development and employment perspective, there continue to be new and exciting opportunities in digital, sales, and marketing. If I hadn’t gone into editorial, I’d be looking in that direction.

With UBC Accountable, the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and Idle No More, we’re seeing the publishing industry take a hard look at its practices. Who is being published, and who is making those decisions? Gender parity, the representation of female and female-identified voices, and diversity are not just “hot” topics but vital conversations to have that will affect the literary landscape in the years to come.

Jamie: We talk to our clients a lot about thought leadership. How does Page Two spot non-fiction stories worth publishing?

Amanda: We work with a lot of subject matter experts and thought leaders in a variety of industries. With any project we take on, we’re looking for a compelling voice—whether the writer is documenting their family’s history or filling the research gap in a particular topic. Some writers come to us with a kernel of an idea that we can help develop, and some with a complete manuscript. We have deep respect for those who have developed innovative leadership styles at every style of organization and level of management. We’re leaders in our field, and like attracts like.