Marie Force is The New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.5 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1.5 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series as well as the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. All together, her books have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Rachel Moulden (RM): You are traditionally published with Harlequin’s HQN imprint for the Fatal Series, but most of your other series are indie published. What would you say the biggest difference is between self-publishing versus working with a traditional publishing company?
Marie Force (MF): The biggest difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing is control over every aspect of the publishing process—from setting the release date to choosing the cover to determining the retail price. I’m lucky to have an extremely collaborative relationship with my HQN team, and I have input into all of these items for my traditionally published series, but not all authors have that rapport with their publishers. There is also a significant financial advantage to self-publishing. Eighty percent of my career revenue has come from my 30+ self-published titles. The other 20 percent is made up of my 20 traditional titles.
RM: What marketing strategies do you find most helpful for the Contemporary Romance genre? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors?
MF: I find that promoting the earlier books in a series through BookBub and other channels works really well to grow the readership across all the retail platforms. Promoting book 1 ahead of a new release in a series has become a big part of my marketing routine. I encourage newer authors to focus first and foremost on producing content before they worry too much about marketing. The more books they have on sale, the better the return on their marketing investment will be. I like to say that quality is always job one for authors, but in this competitive digital market, quantity is definitely job two.
RM: You have numerous books and series in the works. Do you work on multiple series at once? If so, how do you keep everything organized?
MF: I work on multiple books at the same time. My series are all very different, at least in my mind they are, and I keep them straight by maintaining very detailed series spreadsheets for each series that I rely on heavily. I also re-read the past books as often as I possibly can to keep the earlier stories fresh in my mind. This helps with continuity as well as new story ideas.
RM: You grew up in Rhode Island and a lot of your stories, take place in towns with natural landscapes or by the sea side. Is there any destinations that have you considered setting a story in, but haven’t?
MF: Not really. Every setting that I’ve thought about using is pretty much in use, from Gansett Island to Butler, Vermont, to Washington, D.C. and Newport, Rhode Island. I recently set a stand-alone novel in Marfa, Texas, which is a town I’ve never actually visited, but I did extensive research when I was writing that book.
RM: Which of your novels or characters describes you as a person?
MF: I’d say that Sam Holland from my Fatal Series is the most like me, except for the fact that she’s somewhat of a badass, and I’m definitely not! Both of my kids could win a wrestling match against me when they were in elementary school. LOL!
RM: How do you feel your writing and your series has evolved over time?
MF: I think my writing has definitely gotten a little edgier and a lot sexier as time has gone by. That said, I still love to write the milder books, such as the Gansett Island Series, which is my bestselling series of all time with well over 2.5 million books sold worldwide.
RM: Do you believe in writer’s block? What would you say the best cure for it is?
MF: I believe that people experience writer’s block that is very real to them. I don’t suffer from it myself. I have the opposite problem—too many words in my head to get down on the page in any given day. I think the best cure for anything that holds you back is to dive in and go for it. I think it also helps to try to write every day, no matter what. Then it becomes almost like muscle memory and something you have to do to feel complete in a given day. I write something new every single day of the week. Even when I’m editing or proofing a finished book, I’m still putting new words on the page, too.
RM: What projects are you currently working on and what can readers expect from your new novels?
MF: I am working on Light After Dark, book 16 in the Gansett Island Series, and Every Little Thing, the first book in my new indie Butler, Vermont series, which is a continuation of my traditionally published Green Mountain Series. After those two comes Delirious, book 6 in my Quantum Series. All three of these series are now indie published, although Gansett and Quantum have always been indie published.
RM: Who do consider to be your favorite romance authors of all time?
MF: Ohhhh, that’s a tough one. Favorite of all time? Probably Lisa Kleypas and her earlier historicals, which I absolutely devoured. More recently, I love Christina Lauren, Lauren Blakely, Emma Chase and Kristen Proby, all of whom are great authors.
RM: What are three key elements needed in writing a story and why?
MF: I would say action, emotion and satisfaction. Something needs to happen in the story to keep the reader turning the pages. As an author, we need to make our readers feel a wide range of emotions. I’m happy when they tell me I made them cry or laugh or furious. As long as they are feeling something, I am doing my job. And I like to leave them feeling satisfied with the outcome of the story, which is critical, especially in the romance genre.
RM: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
MF: I try not to make demands on my readers beyond hoping they enjoy whatever new book I’ve published. I try to take care of them by offering them lots of chances to win signed books and other great prizes and giveaways. I never feel that my readers “owe” me anything, but I do believe I owe them the best possible book I can produce at any given time.
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