Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dedrie Marie, an editor, author, and entrepreneur based in Bartonville, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
DedrieMarie.com is a literary-minded digital domain that reaches book lovers from the big city streets to the backwoods hood. It is devoted to teaching, empowering, and championing hundreds of book junkies who have an insatiable craving for fiction—and want to learn how to turn that passion into an actual professional skill set that earns and never feels like work. Basically, I teach people how to make money from reading fiction.
Tell us about yourself
For two decades—Holy Hennessy, I'm aging myself—I worked in healthcare in some capacity or another and enjoyed parts of it (like the parts where you actually help people, not spend hours in bullshit meetings listening to number-crunching knuckleheads and filling out soul-crushing paperwork... oh yeah, and only get paid for hands-on time.) I felt stuck.
It certainly didn’t feel like I was doing what I was passionate about. I had the typical American work week/work year where I busted my hump every day for a measly 10 days of vacation—or sick time or holiday time. PTO in healthcare is like the combo burrito of modern-day time off—only to return knowing I wouldn’t be able to do it again for another mind-numbing year.
I had an overall sense of BLAH and felt mired in a passionless job. So I took some time to evaluate my pathetic little self. Whiskey in hand, I contemplated all that I love and what my perfect life would look like If I had the choice. What did I discover? That I'd never win the lottery unless I doubled down. I kid. I've only played the lottery once in my entire life. It was brutal...like using dollar bills as kindling for my backyard fire pit.
I considered my happiness, my goals, my physical health, my emotional health, and my financial health. I considered the balance, or lack thereof, in my life, observing the teetering of work and rest, work and play, and its constant battle to sink me. Fulfilling activities that surfaced over and over were reading and writing, and traveling. (Oh! and tap dancing. We mustn't forget tap dancing! Those Caribbean resorts keep turning me down, but this girl's got a few good years left in her yet!) Where were we?
Does reading and writing make me happy?
Does it contribute to my overall sense of well-being?
You'd better believe it.
How does it affect my financial health?
Weeellllll, other than frequent trips to the bookstore denting my pocketbook, I don’t know. Hmm. Something to ponder.
I decided that I wanted to somehow earn a living in the literary world and be able to do so from anywhere I chose. But how? A career in the literary field felt foreign (but not like the good kind of foreign where you get to wear your "I'm cultured" hat and scarf and flirt with the Argentinian cutie patootie). It felt beyond reach. And what were the options even? I had an education, but it was in healthcare.
Obviously, I had to start all over. (Actually, I didn't...but sometimes I do things the hard and dirty way—ewww...not like that. Jeez.) And at thirty-something, I did. I went back to college and enrolled in the English and Creative Writing (with a focus on fiction) program at Southern New Hampshire University. I also enrolled in every online editorial, publishing, writing, business development, and marketing course I could afford (aka charge to a credit card). Let me tell you, I was one busy girl!
While working full-time, going to school for creative writing, and taking online courses in editing, copyediting, proofreading, business creation and development, and authorpreneurship, I decided to start an editorial business. In addition, I read countless books, listened to numerous podcasts, sat through way too many webinars, and searched through hundreds of blogs and online articles to gain as much knowledge as possible. I attended as many author events as possible, learning firsthand what successful (even award-winning) published authors find crucial to their success. (Beta readers are high on the list!)
I cannot tell you how much knowledge I’ve scooped up over the past years just researching this. But what I can tell you is that much of what I spent time on could have easily been condensed. I would have loved to have found a course (that wasn’t years of time and tuition…arm and leg) or book that was that one-stop shop when it came to getting all my ducks in a row for a career in this field. And I had the hardest dang time finding any resources specifically for beta reading. So I decided to create some for people like me. And that became my mission.
My signature course is on professional beta reading, which is skillfully reading an unpublished manuscript and providing the author with actionable feedback so that it meets the needs of the target audience. I do not guarantee that beta reading or editing or proofreading, working with authors in any capacity—not to mention starting one's own business—is for everyone, but I do know that striving to learn something new or to improve in any way can do nothing but put a good ole cheesy grin on the soul. I love that I get to do something I am passionate about and am rewarded for it. My wish is the same for others who love to read. Let's read books and help authors change the world—and get paid to do it!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Equipping voracious readers (who would love to be a part of the story creation process) with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to work and EARN in an industry that is oftentimes intimidating. Getting your foot in the door of the editing and publishing world can be tough. And I can't tell you how often I've heard avid readers wish they could get paid. They spend so much time in books, love books, and joke if they just got paid a nickel for every... You get the idea. Many people would love it if they could get paid to do what they are already spending so much time doing. My business bridges the gap between that desire and the outcome.
In the past, it's taken years of education, credentials, and pulling on the coattails of who you know to even get started working with books. But I can proudly say that my method is far less expensive than a college degree, is hyper-focused and efficient, far more enjoyable than the standard class-and-textbook setup, and comes with step-by-step guidance to put an author services provider right where they want to be in a timely fashion.
I also love that some of my students have gone on to deepen and/or broaden their skill set and work with authors in other capacities, such as copyediting, proofreading, book reviewing, etc. I am so very honored that the Beta Reading Academy gave them the start they needed.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I have found that being an entrepreneur is a game of reinvention like no other. You are constantly pivoting to stay innovative and interesting—all the while trying to maintain a trustworthy and solid brand. It's a tough job, and sometimes a creative mind can easily lose focus.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- View your business as a love story and strive to win over your customers' hearts first. Design your products or services not just for function but feeling. Make sure you create meaning for anyone who stumbles upon your work. People make decisions (whether to follow you or buy from you) from their gut and their feelings, whether they know it or not. Give their guts something worth fluttering for.
- Something will always go wrong when you're running the show solo: websites will break, people will disappoint, your creative juices will run thin at times, and you'll get oh so tired of trying to wear all the hats. Take a breath. Remember to come back to yourself and your why. Remember why your work matters. Remember that you will always figure it out.
- Keep in mind that cost is in the eye of the beholder. Don't let someone else's own money story determine your product's or service's worth.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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