Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Getting Tired of Talking About Self-Publishing.... And This Is Why...

Remember WAY back in 2010, when self-publishing e-books was still new to everyone, and some of us were beginning to dabble and experiment? Remember when there were only a few brave, hearty souls out there trying this previously lambasted way to get our books to readers? Remember when it was weird and scary and we didn't know if the traditional publishers we were still working with would sue us for taking this new path? Yeah, that was sooooo three years ago. As we close in on the end of 2013, it seems like everyone is doing it or thinking about doing it. It's become "mainstream," a part of doing business for many authors, and it's no longer the headline-making development it was back in 2010. Or is it?

A month or two ago I read a blog post by an author who was taking the "brave, courageous step" into self-publishing. That made me chuckle. I wanted to post on her blog that there was nothing all that brave or courageous about taking that step—not anymore. Sure, it can be a daring move to turn down a decent contract with a traditional publisher to go totally indie. But it's not really a "brave" move anymore when it's been proven over and over by other authors that it can be a path to success if managed correctly. If thousands of other authors are doing it successfully—and by successfully I mean living off their proceeds—then those who are making the move now are doing so with far more information than many of us had back in 2010 when only a few hardy souls had taken this new path and NO ONE knew how traditional publishers would react to authors who decided to do both. That was truly scary.

At what point does the topic of self-publishing stop being all we talk about as a community? When does it become so much a part of our routine that it stops being "new" or "innovative"? For me, I think it happened sometime this fall when I realized I'm starting to get tired of talking about it. Yes, I said that out loud... I've talked about it a lot and tried to share what I've learned over the last three years. During that time I've self-published 18 books and turned my extremely well-rejected McCarthys of Gansett Island Series into a New York Times bestselling self-published series that has sold well over 1 million ebooks since Maid for Love debuted in 2011. For a long time, I enjoyed sharing what I've learned along the way, but now... I'm getting tired. I'll still talk about it because so many people are interested, and I'm always happy to lend a hand to another author, but... I'm looking forward to the day when self-publishing is as run-of-the-mill as traditional publishing, and it's not that big of a deal anymore.

How long do you think it'll be before we get there?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meant for Love, On Sale Today!

Release day celebration! MEANT FOR LOVE, McCarthys of Gansett Island Book 10, is now ON SALE! Jenny the lighthouse keeper finally gets her happily ever after with Alex Martinez in this latest installment from Gansett Island, which features some of your favorite characters from past books too!

AND SPECIAL BONUS! At the back of Meant for Love, get the FIRST EVER sneak preview of ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, Book 1 in my NEW Green Mountain Series, coming February 4, 2014!

Get MEANT FOR LOVE this week to participate in the fabulous launch week contest with all kinds of prizes, including a trip to Newport, RI for Reader Weekend 2014, up for grabs! Details can be found in the back of the ebook!

Kindle/Amazon: http://amzn.to/1cqm6Br
Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/1bfi394
Kindle Canada: http://amzn.to/18bPl60
iBooks: http://bit.ly/H4pLdO
Nook: http://bit.ly/1bNQuUQ
Nook UK: http://bit.ly/17gkTLK
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1fDNJrU

Get your SIGNED print copy here:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9WZRMGM

Hope you enjoy Jenny and Alex as much as I LOVED writing them!

Announcing MEANT FOR LOVE Release Week Contest!

We have a contest with fabulous prizes to go along with tomorrow's release of Meant for Love! The contest will run from Nov. 18 through midnight, Nov. 25 EST and will require you to provide Marie with your TOP FIVE favorite lines from Chapter 2 and beyond in the book. Make plans to read the book in time to submit your favorite lines by the deadline!

Winners will be contacted and announced the first week of December.

Randomly selected winners will receive one of these great prizes!

First prize winner will receive a trip to the 2014 Memorial Day Reader Weekend in Rhode Island (airfare in continental US, three nights hotel and registration fee). The Reader Weekend includes a day in Block Island (weather permitting), the inspiration for Gansett Island. International winner must be able to get to a US point of entry. Click here for details about the Reader Weekend in RI.

Second prize $250 gift card to the e-book retailer of the winner's choice

Third prize $100 gift card to the e-book retailer of the winner's choice

Two runners up: Signed copies of all 10 print books in the McCarthy Series and a Gansett Island beach towel

Enter the contest HERE:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/J3GWWZP

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Favorite McCarthy Book: Meant for Love, out Nov. 18!

Only 12 more days until MEANT FOR LOVE, Book 10 in the McCarthy Series, hits e-readers! I'm sooo excited for this book, which is now my personal favorite of the McCarthy series. Why? 

I've loved Jenny since we first met her in Book 6, and learned that she lost her fiancĂ© on 9/11. Her life since then has been a difficult journey that led her to Gansett Island and a job as the lighthouse keeper. I've found her to be an interesting character from the beginning, and I've enjoyed watching her become an essential part of the Gansett Island "family" of friends.

Her love interest, Alex Martinez, had a great career in Washington, DC, but had to come home help his brother Paul run their family business on Gansett and care for their mother, who has dementia. I loved writing Alex! He's gruff, rough around the edges and curses like a sailor, but there's a heart of gold underneath all that gruffness. Between the family demands and the business demands, he has a lot on his plate when he meets Jenny during a scorching heat wave on Gansett. The sparks fly between these two from the first minute they meet, all the way through to the Epilogue.

Both of these characters have lived through difficult times, and they take comfort from each other as their relationship goes from smolder to serious while the temperature rises on Gansett Island! I so hope you all enjoy reading Meant for Love as much as I loved writing it! I can't wait to hear what you think of Alex and Jenny!

Preorder now:
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1cqm6Br
Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/1bfi394
Kindle Canada: http://amzn.to/18bPl60
Apple/iBooks: http://bit.ly/H4pLdO
BNNOOK Press: Coming Nov. 18 (no preorder permitted)
Kobo: Coming Nov. 18

Preorder the PRINT version: http://amzn.to/HxNen4

Read Chapter 1: http://bit.ly/16fLkO3

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eight Years Ago Today

Many of the most important things in my life have occurred on the 18th of the month, which has made 18 my lucky number. Both my kids were born on the 18th, and on this day in May 2005, another of my "kids" was officially born when I wrote the words THE END for the very first time in TREADING WATER. Little did I know then, during this moment of tremendous personal satisfaction and achievement, that Treading Water was an overwritten, 150,000-word, self-indulgent DISASTER. I also didn't know then that Treading Water would mark the start of the most incredible journey, filled with many soaring highs and just as many crushing lows.

Treading Water took me on a roller coaster ride of edits and revisions and rewrites and critiques and soul searching and questions for the ages: What would I do if I was in Jack's situation? Several of my late mother's friends read it, told me it kept them up all night and demanded I write a follow-on story for one of the characters whose story was left unfinished in Treading Water. I had many deep conversations with friends who'd read the book and found themselves questioning their own belief systems.

I began to think... If this book had affected the people in my life so profoundly, maybe, just maybe it would strike the hearts of others, too. I worked on that book for YEARS after I wrote THE END. Even as I wrote a bunch of other books, I returned over and over again to Treading Water, applying everything new that I learned to that first book. Traditional publishers, however, had absolutely no interest in my square peg book, which was heartbreaking at the time. I'm skipping a huge chunk of my writing career story as I jump forward to the fall of 2011 when I self-published Treading Water at a lean, mean 92,000 words. Over six years, I cut 58,000 words (!! almost another full book !!) from that first version. Talk about killing your darlings!

Taking the advice of my mother's friends, I wrote book 2, Marking Time, in three months, and have hardly changed a word since I finished it in early 2006. I learned all the most important lessons about storytelling, pacing, character development, point of view and over-writing from Treading Water. It was then and remains today the ultimate book of my heart. My company is named for Jack, the architect in Treading Water: HTJB, Inc. The House That Jack Built. Everything goes back to Jack and Treading Water.

Almost eight years after I wrote THE END that first time, I got to see my name on the New York Times bestseller list. And then it happened again, with a different book, three weeks later. I have thousands of readers who wait with anticipation for my next book, which is the absolute dream come true times a million because I never dreamed it would be as amazing as it is to have such incredible readers. I have a career I could've only imagined on that day eight years ago today. As a very special thank you to all the friends and readers I've met along the way on this amazing ride, Treading Water is currently free in e-book format. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you all.

Kindle: http://amzn.to/10ugEpi
iBookstore: http://bit.ly/WA9Cwb
Kobo: http://bit.ly/11BZKJN

**We are waiting on Nook to make it free at http://bit.ly/WNAs3R. It's been submitted and is in the queue! So check back frequently.** In the meantime, you can get it for free in ePub format for the Nook at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/98722

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Celebrating a Special Anniversary with THREE Freebies!

This week marks EIGHT YEARS since I wrote THE END for the first time, and I have a very special offering of all three of the first books in each of my series FREE for a limited time! See below for details about how you can pass this info along to your friends and be entered into a drawing in which you AND your friend(s) can win a $250 gift card to the book retailer of your choice!

The book that started my writing career, TREADING WATER, book 1 in the four-book Treading Water Series, is free for the first time ever!
Kindle: http://amzn.to/10ugEpi
iBookstore: http://bit.ly/WA9Cwb
Kobo: http://bit.ly/11BZKJN
Not yet free at Nook, but coming soon, so check back often: http://bit.ly/WNAs3R

Also free, FATAL AFFAIR, book 1 in the soon to be six-book (plus a novella) Fatal Series:
Kindle: http://amzn.to/15tB9do
iBookstore: http://bit.ly/10wel9G
Kobo: http://bit.ly/10J2QpK
Nook: http://bit.ly/18wRSvh

And MAID FOR LOVE, book 1 in the soon-to-be nine-book McCarthys of Gansett Island Series!
Kindle: http://amzn.to/146hHyP
iBookstore: http://bit.ly/1267O6N
Kobo: http://bit.ly/XSNijt
Nook: http://bit.ly/ZJtdCC

Interested in winning the gift card? Make sure you're on my mailing list at http://marieforce.com/. Details coming soon to those who are on the list!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Proof that FREE Really Works...

I've been wanting to speak out a little more often on what works—and what doesn't—in selling books in an attempt to aid those who are navigating the maze of publishing these days, whether you've chosen self-publishing or traditional publishing. I've got a foot in both camps, but I don't mind saying publicly that my self-published books make way more money than my traditionally published books do. It comes down to the law of averages: if you are earning less than $1 per book, you have to sell a LOT more books before you hit thresholds anywhere near what you reach when you are making $3.87 per book. 

I've blogged before about the runaway success of my free offering of Maid for Love last year. Beginning June 15, Maid for Love, book 1 in my McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, was free at all major retailers. I set it to free at Apple and Kobo (very easy to do at both retailers) and then notified Amazon of the price change. They matched it. To my knowledge, there is only one way to make a book free at B&N: I distributed a free copy to B&N via Smashwords, and eventually that copy appeared on the retail site. At that point, I took the paid book "Off Sale" on my dashboard, so only the free Nook version showed up on the retail site. Over the next few months, we saw more than 600,000 downloads of Maid for Love across all platforms. Sales of books 2-6 exploded. Book 7, Longing for Love, was released in October of 2012 and had the strongest week one showing of any book of mine to date. Because it was initially offered as a Kindle exclusive, it didn't make any of the bestseller lists, but it posted numbers that were definitely in the bestseller range. Book 8, Waiting for Love, was released Feb. 18 on all platforms and hit no. 6 on the New York Times ebook list, no. 11 on the NYT combined print/ebook list, no. 15 on the USA Today list and no. 6 on the Wall Street Journal ebook list. I believe the bestseller list showings tie directly to the free offering of Maid for Love. 

Because the Maid for Love offering was so successful, I asked Harlequin to offer Fatal Affair for free around the release of book 5, Fatal Deception, last November. It took a bit of begging and some pleading, but they decided to put Fatal Affair up for free for the month of November. It did so well that I begged for a second month and December was added as well. I haven't heard exact numbers but the downloads were in the 300,000 range and sales of the other four books were in the 180,000 neighborhood. Book 5, Fatal Deception, became the first of my books to hit a major bestseller list, coming in at no. 99 on the USA Today list. Did the free offering spur that placement? What do you think? I say definitely!

I've done some messing around with the price of Maid for Love in recent weeks. I set it back to $3.99 for a while and it did okay, with maybe 100 sales per day across platforms, but I noticed an overall slowdown of sales for books 2-8. So I dropped the price to 99 cents. Again, it did okay, but not great. So I've set it back to free on Apple and Kobo, distributed a free version from Smashwords to B&N and notified Amazon of the lower prices. Maybe they will match, maybe they won't. For now, it's 99 cents at Amazon. On March 24, there were 150 Apple downloads of the free version in the U.S. iBookstore. I figure if even HALF of that 150 buy the other seven books in the series, that's 525 books sold at a profit of $3.87. That translates to $2031.75 in profit as the result of ONE DAY of free sales at ONE retailer—and that's if only HALF the free readers like the book enough to buy the rest of the series. If they all do, that's a profit of $4062 for one day of free downloads at one retailer. That more than offsets the "loss" of offering book 1 for free. If they love the McCarthy Series, I have 17 (soon to be 18) other books available, and if they buy all of them over time as well as any future books I may publish, then that's a huge win, all thanks to one free book that acted as a gateway between me a reader who is now a fan for life.

In this digital age of publishing, "discoverability" remains our greatest challenge. How do we get readers to find our books? Most of us are readers in addition to being writers. Most of us have taken a chance on a new-to-us author because they offered a free book. Most of us might not have paid even 99 cents to try a book by an unknown author. But what is lost when you try something for free? Nothing. What can be gained by offering a book for free? See above! 

Questions? Feel free to ask away. I hope to post more often about my self-publishing journey, so let me know if there are topics you'd like to hear more about.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting for Love Contest Ends Sunday, Feb. 24!

Are you ready for a reader contest like no other with the most FABULOUS prizes? Coinciding with the release of Waiting for Love on Monday, Feb. 18, the contest will run from Monday, Feb. 18 through Sunday Feb. 24 at 6 pm ESTand will require in-depth knowledge of Waiting for Love. Those who achieve a perfect score on the quiz, are members of the McCarthys Series Readers Group on Facebook and are subscribers to the mailing list will be eligible for one of the amazing prizes listed below. 

Remember you'll need to read the entire book to be able to answer the quiz! No discussion of quiz questions or answers will be permitted on the Facebook readers groups or other public sites online. Those who do so may be disqualified from the contest.

Get Waiting for Love at:
Kindle  |  Kindle UK  |  Kindle Canada  |  iBookstore  |  Kobo  |  Nook  |  Smashwords

Join the Waiting for Love Readers Group on Facebook!

GRAND PRIZE is a visit to Block Island, RI that includes: 
  • $750 toward airfare (Continental U.S. only. If you are overseas, you will have to get yourself to the U.S.)
  • Transport from T.F. Green Airport in Providence to the Point Judith ferry landing in Narragansett, RI.
  • Round trip ferry tickets to Block Island.
  • Two nights lodging for two at a hotel on Block Island. (The winner can tack on extra nights at their own expense.)
  • Two $100 gift certificates to Marie's favorite restaurants on Block Island
  • LUNCH with the author at the famous Oar Bar and an island tour with Marie (subject to author availability when you choose to come).
  • Signed print copies of all eight books in the McCarthy of Gansett Island Series, the Gansett Island beach bag and towel and the McCarthys of Gansett Island bumper sticker.

Winner's choice of an iPad Mini or Kindle Fire, $250 gift card to the accompanying retailer and signed print copies of all eight books in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, the Gansett Island beach bag and towel and the McCarthys of Gansett Island bumper sticker.

$100 gift card to the ebook retailer of the winner's choice and signed print copies of all eight books in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, the Gansett Island beach bag and towel and the McCarthys of Gansett Island bumper sticker.

Two Runner Up Prizes:
Signed print copies of all eight books in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, the Gansett Island beach bag and towel and the McCarthys of Gansett Island bumper sticker.

Prizes must be redeemed by December 31, 2014.

By participating in this contest, all entrants agree (a) to abide by these and any additional specific official rules and the decisions of the HTJB, Inc./Marie Force Author, its employees, subsidiaries and agents and any affiliated companies, sponsors or other entities furnishing prizes or otherwise connected with the conduct of this contest ("Contest Entities"), which will be binding and final in all respects; (b) to the use of information by the Contest Entities for marketing and advertising purposes as allowed by applicable privacy policies and law; (c) to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Contest Entities and their officers, directors, employees and agents from any and all liability, claims, lawsuits, costs, expenses, fees, injuries (including death), losses, and damages resulting or alleged to result from participation in the contest, acceptance or use of any prize, and/or from entrant's fraudulent or otherwise wrongful acts or omissions; (d) not to sue the Contest Entities for any damages alleged to arise from winner's acceptance of or use of the prize(s); and (e) to the use of the entrant's, name, voice, biography, and likeness by Contest Entities without further notice or compensation for promotion, advertising, filing, and dissemination purposes, except where otherwise prohibited by law. Contest Entities make no warranty, guaranty or representation of any kind concerning any prize and disclaim any implied warranty. Contest Entities are not responsible if the prize cannot be awarded due to delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters, weather or acts of terrorism.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcoming My New Assistant, Julie Cupp!

From Marie: I asked Julie to say a few words, and then I'll be back!

A Yellow Rose Moment

Who is Julie Cupp and how’d she get a gig as Marie’s assistant?  Let me tell you it’s been a long interview.  Marie has seen me at my best and my worst in the 10 years we’ve known each other.  When I met Marie in 2002, we were working for the same organization.

She told me she had started a book but was apprehensive to send it to me. I’m not expert in writing, grammar, or plot and character development, but I knew she could write.  I’d seen her do it so many other times on topics not of her choosing.  Giving her the chance to write what she was most inspired by really brought out the best in her.

Marie would email a few new chapters every few days.  I’d read at night, staying up as late as necessary to get my chapters done.  I expect I’m not the only one around here who’s done that with one of her books.  But this was different. She’d never written a book before. Never developed characters and a plot full emotion, love, family, friendship, and romance.  And it was all balanced so perfectly!

As the end of the book was looming, Marie was giddy with excitement, but I knew there was some apprehension as well.  She didn’t want to let these characters go.  She also wasn’t sure how to celebrate.  I told her to get a bottle of champagne and share the moment with her family.  I sent a dozen yellow roses to be delivered on the day she wrote the last line of the book. A simple gesture that has bonded us ever since.  That book was Treading Water.  She may write 1,000 books but I’m not sure any of them will mean as much to me as Treading Water.  Maybe I’m not supposed to have a favorite, but I do. (And if you'll recall, in Treading Water, Jack always brought Clare's favorite yellow roses to her when he visited her while she was in the long coma.)

So now Marie and I use the term, “a yellow rose moment,” to signify an accomplishment like the day signed her first book deal or when she knew Gansett Island was something she wanted to share with readers.  And fast forward to last month when she made the USA Today Bestseller List for the first time. Yellow roses are how we’ve celebrated her successes.

And now Marie and I are working together again, and I got my yellow rose moment. 

From Marie: I couldn't be more delighted to have my long-time friend Julie joining my team at HTJB, Inc. I wish I had a dime for every time we've talked about this day way off in the future when she would come to work with me and whip me and my business into shape with all her many skills. Julie is the perfect person for the job. Not only has she been with me since day one of this crazy journey—and shared all the highs and lows with me—but she has the ideal set of skills, too. In addition to her insane Excel skills (always an asset in today's work environment), she is also a professional meeting planner, so I expect that she will share her event planning skills with all of us to put together fabulous book signings and that long-awaited reader weekend in Rhode Island, maybe in 2014. 

Because it's too funny, I also need to add that AFTER Julie wrote this blog post, but BEFORE I read it, I sent her a dozen yellow roses to celebrate her last day at her former job. She said she returned from lunch with her boss, saw the roses on her desk, knew who they were from and why they'd been sent before she read the card, and burst into tears. 

Today is a dream come true for both of us, and Julie and I thank all my wonderful readers whose support of me and my books has made it possible for me to bring Julie onto my team. I love this picture of Julie having "breakfast" in a British pub during her trip to London. She said it's not very professional for her grand debut. I said, we like to have fun around here!

Welcome, dear friend. Can't wait to work with you again!