Romantic-Minded Entrepreneur: Kathy M. Newbern, 51, and J.S. Fletcher, 56
What the business does: Writes romance books, starring you, the paying customer, as the intrepid hero or heroine
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Employees: One office manager, who works full-time during their busy seasons and part-time during the down times
There's something about this business: Once upon a time, or more precisely, 15 years ago, Newbern was on a panel at a public relations conference, and the ice-breaker question was, "What would people be surprised to find out about you?" She answered that she had written a yet-to-be published romance novel. Later, at the PR luncheon with her then-boyfriend, Fletcher, accompanying her, Newbern was wistfully asked by a woman at the table, "Wouldn't it be great to read about yourself in one of those romance novels?" Driving home, Fletcher and Newbern looked at each other and said, "You know, we could do that." And they did. Now you can order 21 different books from them.
Customers submit personal details about their lives--everything from occupations, pet names, perfume and so on--and for anywhere from $50 to $120, depending on whether you want a hardcover or paperback, or a photo of you and your beloved on the cover, you and yours can star in a romance novel.
Meanwhile, Fletcher and Newbern--whose books are written under the pseudonym, Fletcher Newbern--have been living happily ever after since starting their business. Fletcher has been working on YourNovel.com full-time since 1992, and Newbern has since 2001. And they've long since married. "Writing about love with the one I love and promoting love to the world--what better job descriptions could you ask for?" Newbern says.