Writing Your Unique Story with Dr. Demi Stevens

Dr. Demi Stevens is an award-winning writing coach, author, editor, publisher, and CEO of Year of the Book, an elite artisanal publishing house that specializes in remarkable, one-on-one author experiences. Dr. Stevens helps her clients write, complete, and publish best-selling and life-altering books.

Before starting her business, Dr. Stevens received her Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Performance from The Ohio State University. She currently lives in Glen Rock, PA, with her husband and their two cats. Outside of the office, Dr. Stevens loves to travel and explore the great outdoors.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Dr. Demi Stevens discusses the major life events that impacted her journey toward earning her doctoral degree
  • The career path that Dr. Stevens pursued after graduation
  • The importance of defining your “why” during the dissertation phase
  • What inspired Dr. Stevens to start her publishing business?
  • Dr. Stevens shares the heartwarming details behind her greatest success story
  • How do people who want to write a book start the process?

In this episode…

Have you ever wanted to write a book? Maybe it’s an item on your bucket list that you keep telling yourself you’ll get around to someday. Dr. Demi Stevens, the CEO of Year of the Book, believes that your “someday” should be today.

While publishing a book is vastly different to completing a dissertation, both processes can benefit from the help of an experienced advisor. That’s why Dr. Stevens created Year of the Book—so that she can help aspiring writers tell their stories and publish the books of their dreams. Assisting with everything from writing coaching to professional cover design, she has worked with 180 writers who have completed an astounding 400 books.

Join Dr. Russell Strickland in this episode of An Unconventional Life as he interviews Dr. Demi Stevens, the CEO of Year of the Book, about her path to earning her doctoral degree and starting her publishing business. Tune in as Dr. Stevens talks about the major life event that happened during her dissertation process, the incredible story of an author she helped, and her advice for people who are embarking on their writing journey.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to www.dissertationdone.com/done and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done!
  1. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to www.dissertationdone.com/book and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit www.dissertationdone.com to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.

Intro  0:03

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percenters out there, who earn their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist and teacher, author, dissertation coach and more. Dr. Russell Strickland.

Dr. Russell Strickland  0:29

Hi, Dr. Russell Strickland here host of An Unconventional Life Podcast where I feature the stories of the unconventional 1% who not only earned their doctoral degrees, but went on to leverage them in strange, exciting, cool and unconventional ways throughout their lives and their careers. Today I have with me Dr. Demi Stevens, who is a really just a jack of all trades sheet. We have had wide ranging conversations. She right now is working with folks with part of her own publishing company, and Dr. Stevens asked, you know, have you ever told yourself that someday I’ll write a book but you don’t know where to start? Or maybe you finished a draft but you’re afraid of getting rejection letters on your way to publishing? Well, as far as Dr. Stevens is concerned, today is your someday. She’s an award winning writing coach, author, editor, publisher and the CEO of your the book press. She has an elite artisinal or it is an elite artisinal Publishing House that specializes in one on one amazing author experiences. Her clients not only start writing the book of their dreams, but they complete and publish phenomenal books, award winning books, best selling books, life altering books, even from people who never thought they could. Each of our clients is unique as a writer, and she guides them through this process one baby step at a time so that they can focus on what’s most important. Their book. Demi lives in Glen rock pencil With her husband Todd, and her two cats, and she loves to travel, and loves to travel and loves the great outdoors. So, Demi, I want to thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Demi Stevens  2:12

Thanks for having me I loving unconventional people. You’re my favorite.

Dr. Russell Strickland  2:16

Well, I want to read real quick, our little sponsor message here, and then we’re going to get into it. This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, Dissertation Done is very much like Dr. Stevens one on one hand holding publishing house, we work on a holding your hand throughout the dissertation process. We help you get from here to graduation, in less time than you could have possibly imagined. So that you can get in, get out graduate and get your life back. So if you are studying people in a data driven way, whether it’s in education, business, nursing, psychology, or any other data driven social science, reach out to us at Dissertation Done, you can go to www.dissertationdone.com and find out how we can help you get your dissertation done. So Dr. Stevens that actually leads me to my first question for you, which is your dissertation process? I remember we’ve had a conversation about this before. And and it was a very interesting and unique topic, but also a very interesting and unique journey. Can you share that with us a little bit?

Dr. Demi Stevens  3:22

Sure. So I went from an underground undergrad, I was going to say underground. Maybe I should bury it in the fast term, an undergrad in music, Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia University, which was my home state go mountaineers, and did my masters actually followed up with a second bachelor degree in flute performance from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. So I moved west a little bit, and then did my masters at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois. That one was in music history. So I have a proud background in music. Rather than the English Lit that someone might guess from my publishing company now, or in any sort of technology that might have to do with getting books published in the modern age, and then love brought me from Evanston back to Columbus, Ohio, in Evanston, Evanston was 1993 through 95.

Dr. Russell Strickland  4:26

Wow. So that was about the same time I was, had moved up to Chicago. I started my graduate work at the University of Chicago, so we were actually in the same town for at least a year or two

Dr. Demi Stevens  4:37

Small world. Very cool. If you were out on the lake at all, that’s where you can find me a lot of afternoons.

Dr. Russell Strickland  4:45

Yeah, I was in a basement lab. member. Occasionally, I saw the lake occasionally,

Dr. Demi Stevens  4:53

they let you out of the cage. I remember hearing a car talk episode where click and clack the tappet brothers. were called in by a lady who said, Oh, my husband drives the Lakeshore drive every day to and from to work and I’m really concerned with him in winter, does he? What kind of four wheel drive does he need? And the brothers replied one of them replied, lady. Yeah, husband doesn’t need four wheel drive. What he needs is Metamucil. more fiber in his diet. Chicago, Chicago winters are fun, but they’re not like

Dr. Russell Strickland  5:30

mountains in Chicago is their two seasons winter and construction.

Dr. Demi Stevens  5:34

Yeah, that’s it. We have that here in Pennsylvania, too.

Dr. Russell Strickland  5:37

Remember, Lakeshore drive for those who don’t know is this big. I don’t even remember probably four lanes going each way four or five lanes going each way. highway that goes right along the lake from the south side of Chicago all the way up to Evanston, which is the nearest northern suburb. And I remember going for Fourth of July and watching the fireworks over the lake and Lake Shore Drive with literally the stop parking lot people Sitting on the hoods and Roos of their cars, watching the fireworks. And then after they all got back in and started their cars up again, it would still be stopped for probably two or three hours. People try to figure out how to get back home. But I enjoyed my time there, Chicago. So to Pennsylvania, you were saying,

Dr. Demi Stevens  6:19

Chicago brought me back to the Columbus, Ohio, where I did my doctoral degree at The Ohio State University. Oh, guys. Yes, indeed. So that was a not the experience i’d envisioned because I’d always put myself in my imagination finishing at Northwestern where I done my first graduate degree, but that was going to last longer than my engagement was kind of tolerate. So I moved back to Columbus where my fiance was in seminary there could be a Lutheran minister. And so while he was completing his degree, I did my doctoral classes for a flute performance DMA, Dr. Musical Arts. And about the time, same time that he got his first call to serve at a congregation in eastern Pennsylvania. I finished my coursework and was a BD, as they say,

Dr. Russell Strickland  7:28

oh, and then the fun started, right.

Dr. Demi Stevens  7:30

And then the fun starts

Dr. Russell Strickland  7:33

to tell us a little bit about your actual dissertation experience. What was that process like for you?

Dr. Demi Stevens  7:39

So in the final semester of my coursework, one of our class assignments had us researching various people in the industry. And so I was a flute player and found it fascinating how you might be able to develop some sort of flutist family tree looking at flute players and figure out who their teachers where and who their teachers teachers were, and then building a sort of genealogy, their social genealogy anyway, nevermind the incest when the teachers and the students would marry in real life. That’s always fun. But I found it fascinating to find that through my own set of teachers, I was connected to a gentleman named William Kincaid, who had been the principal flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra for going on 40 years or something like this. And that connection really was important to me. And I said, I wonder if other people have the same connections. And so what my dissertation set out to study was, you know, just how important how closely were we all connected and through interviewing 9000 flute players, oh, the United States, I discovered that 95% All American flutist can trace their genealogy through William Kincaid and Philadelphia and the Curtis Institute where he taught back through the Paris conservatory through his teachers and his teachers, teachers. And that was a unifying feature. So I established him as the father of the American flute school.

Dr. Russell Strickland  9:21

That is very cool. I wonder how much though the math gate can be starts to wonder about the network diagrams and everything that are going to be in that. And Neil deGrasse Tyson I know talks about this notion of the molecules of air that we breathe in and out and how they mix and I forgot what the numbers are exactly, but it’s something like 95% or, or more of every breath you take, has a molecule in it that was breathed by whomever you might like to pick out of history. you’re breathing in the air that George Washington breathe, or Jesus breeze or the Buddha breathing. It’s really kind of cool to think about that connectedness and in I’d love

Dr. Demi Stevens  9:59

to have through the air person, especially when I’m, especially when I’m playing a piece of music that has a really long phrase.

Buddha can hold his breath a lot longer than me longer.

Dr. Russell Strickland  10:11

So very cool. So after the will, was there anything else that you think that you thought was really important about the dissertation process that really stood out to you, as you were going through that process?

Dr. Demi Stevens  10:22

The fact that I gave birth to my son, and it was a couple of months underway,

Dr. Russell Strickland  10:29

constantly telling our students life keeps going, it doesn’t take a break for the dissertation.

Dr. Demi Stevens  10:35

No, the child kicked in them in utero whenever I would play Piccolo, I’m not fond of the piccolo at that point or anytime after. But the dissertation, I remember having Joe in the little, either the pack and play or there was a swing that would go back and forth while I was checking email from the various correspondence. Right. Right. And writing the actual dissertation. And putting, you’re right about the math involved in that I used an Access database back in the late 1990s. To pull the data together and collate crazy.

Dr. Russell Strickland  11:15

I remember the I had a somewhat similar experience that my wife and I had when we were done starting our family, we had a number of false starts, which was, you know, very trying on both of us. But when finally, our son, who we like to joke about was born five years past his due date. We finally that pregnancy took and we were definitely sure that this was going to happen. I was looking at my dissertation and looking at her and she got bigger each month and my dissertation didn’t necessarily really focus on getting it done. And he was born in December and I actually defended in April. So it was a big motivator to make sure I got this thing finished up, because I knew life was really, really change. So

Dr. Demi Stevens  11:57

I think my dissertation did About the same number of inches it took about two years to write and was 900 some pages. I tried to keep pace.

Dr. Russell Strickland  12:09

Did a good job.

Dr. Demi Stevens  12:11

I’m so glad it’s over.

Dr. Russell Strickland  12:13

So So after the dissertation what came next after you graduate after you got that done? What was the next step for you?

Dr. Demi Stevens  12:19

My goal had always been to follow. Follow the path I had. I first wanted to teach public school is what took me into music. And when I did my clinical, what to call it where you’re in school doing supervisions and a student teaching time when I really felt drawn to then was to teach teachers. And so that’s what prompted me to pursue pursue the graduate education. And I had come out of school thinking I would teach in colleges and that was my long term goal. My my now ex husband’s first ministry, calling in land Scale Pennsylvania, which is a northern suburb of Philadelphia, served a congregation of 5600 members. Wow, that’s a pretty large fishbowl to swim in. But we were very close to universities and colleges there that had music programs. And I taught at Delaware Valley College and enjoyed my, let’s see, one of the classes I taught there was American music history. So rock for jocks, we might have subtext. And just just felt drawn to that. But a few years later, we moved to so that my child could grow up closer to extended family. So we came to a small tiny little town called Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, which is about 40 minutes south of Harrisburg, PA, or something. And the opportunities for teaching college basically came down to waiting for someone to die. Right. Not the avenue I wanted to use to get a job, let’s say

Dr. Russell Strickland  14:07

it’s something that they don’t, they don’t talk a whole lot about when they’re when you’re being recruited into a traditional doctoral program. Some people will mention it. But the fact of the matter is we hope that a graduate students lifetime is about 5, 6, 7, 8 years. And you look at tenured professors and they’re there for, you know, something along the lines of, you know, 30, maybe 40 years, some of them. So you start doing another 740

Dr. Demi Stevens  14:31


Dr. Russell Strickland  14:33

you know, that you see, there’s about as many graduate students as our faculty in a lot of departments, so you know, that there’s not going to be a role or a role for all the students to replace those faculty. And that’s true in all universities everywhere, so you can’t just shuffle people around and make it work, academia true.

Dr. Demi Stevens  14:50

And that’s a situation I found myself in. I wound up taking a job as a library director in public library Shrewsbury Pennsylvania, we had a terrific staff Great time there. But it wasn’t musical at all. I found myself calling more upon the musicology that music history and research degree that I had done in Evanston. Because I worked with a lot of books. I worked in the the big library in downtown Chicago where they handle all of the rare book collections. But astoundingly, I didn’t need to dust Nora Roberts. I didn’t need to put on gloves to reshelve the James Patterson books was kind of kind of nice to be working with books that were in the popular, right. Popular knowledge and things like that. But as most people think about public libraries and their contribution, I think many remember early childhood education that might be the first thing that pops to mind preschool storytime for toddlers, that sort thing. And here here came me after 14 years of college, which was, you know, more than the 12. I put in before that and I felt like I thought, Gosh, people taller than four feet might still want to learn something. So I put together a list of all the things I still wanted to learn and included, you know, simple things like learning to play a card game, or Mahjong, or quilting, but also like how to brew beer or cook with herbs. And so I reached out to people in our community, who could be experts in these various fields and twist their arms to come in, in exchange for maybe landing some clients for things that they would teach. Like, how to how to set up your last will and testament. Funeral Home director good at our local lawyers. The funeral home director would say, if you’ve ever thought I wouldn’t be caught dead in this outfit, you should tell someone.

Dr. Russell Strickland  17:10

We’ll put you in that outfit, so

Dr. Demi Stevens  17:11

that we don’t put you in that. Yeah. So it was a lot of a lot of joy there and getting to connect with other community members who had the same learning interests that I did. And so one day, when a gentleman appeared in front of me, who said, Were you aware that you could using a division of Amazon, publish your book professionally and have it printed and bound for less than a cup of Starbucks coffee? And like five bucks? Yeah, coffee in your hand for less than $5? No, I don’t believe you. So the next day at work, I researched it on the computer using my keen skills acquired from all those decrees and discover that what he was saying was right in many cases $3 and 60 five cents plus shipping for a copy of, of my finished book once I had the editing skills and the design skills to get the interior and the book cover put together and the rears were worrying in my head, okay, if I want to write a book, I wonder if there’s anyone else out there in my community who would also love to learn to write a book. And so I sent out a call, I put fliers up everywhere. If you’ve ever thought of writing a book, today’s your Someday This is Make this your year of the book. And I scheduled a series of courses to last when every other week 26 courses over the course timeframe of a year with the carrot dangling That said, if you have a completed tangible product, aka a book, at the end of this year, I’ll create the launch gala for you and invite in a New York Times. headline for us and that’s what I did. But in the back of my mind, I expected there to be Oh two or three whack jobs for this entire year. Right? What a huge commitment, nothing shy on that, then a dissertation essentially write the book, write the book. But what, what astounded me was that at the organizational meeting, why had 57 people show up with a ream high paper that they had, you know, brought their manuscript out of the guestroom and the bottom drawer of the dresser that’s been there for 15, 20 years and blown the dust off make it more presentable and they came with the dream fully in mind like okay, sign me up. I’m, I’m ready. And so I had to bring my a game at that point.

Dr. Russell Strickland  19:52

Well, that’s one of the things I talked to any student is coming into Dissertation Done at the beginning of the process, asking kind of what is your why Why is it that you’re trying to get your degree? And they always have a reason there’s something they want to do. And then unfortunately, we have to shut it down to get the dissertation done. But keep an eye on that. That’s what we’re getting to you’re going to be able to do that once you finish this. Yeah, so helping folks find their why and be able to not just they know what it is but to be able to express it and to achieve it. That’s, that’s gonna be super cool.

Dr. Demi Stevens  20:23

It’s something else very different.

Keeping your eye on the why requires that long term thinking 10,000 square feet, you know, 10,000 foot view, right from above, but getting to the next step requires your feet on the ground

Dr. Russell Strickland  20:39

is another thing.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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