Q&A with Jack’s House Publishing LLC Publisher, New York Times Bestselling Author, Marie Force
Marie is the author of more than 50 contemporary romance novels, including her bestselling Gansett Island, Fatal, Green Mountain, Quantum and Treading Water Series. In 2016, she founded Jack’s House, named for the main character in her first book, Treading Water. Jack’s House aims to support authors in their efforts to find a readership and grow their careers.
Q: Why did you decide to start Jack’s House and how did the first year go?
A: I started my Jack’s House imprint in early 2016 after quite a few of my colleagues asked me if I’d thought about doing it. In truth, I hadn’t really considered it until others told me I should. Their interest and encouragement got the ball rolling, and I’ve been thrilled by the response so far from both authors and readers. We have been overwhelmed by submissions, and the reader response to our first four books has been outstanding.
Q: What makes your publishing program unique from so many others?
A: I think it really comes down to the personal interaction, mentoring and endorsement I provide for our authors’ books. After writing and publishing more than 50 of my own books as both an indie and traditionally published author, I’ve seen this business from all angles and try to bring the benefit of my experience to newer authors. Interacting directly with our authors is one of my favorite parts of working on Jack’s House projects.
For example, I was heavily involved in the editing of our acquisition of Silicon Valley Billionaires: LAUREN by Leigh James. Leigh and I worked together for months to whip that book into amazing shape, and I can’t wait to get it out to readers on February 21. It will soon be followed by book 2, Silicon Valley Billionaires: GABE, with many more to come in the Silicon Valley Billionaires Series. Leigh has set up an amazing world within the Silicon Valley tech landscape, and I can’t wait to read the next books in her dynamic series. By the way—I also learned a LOT about what it takes to bring a new medical device to market, and the sneaky, underhanded and often evil things competitors will do win the race. Holy moly! The suspense in this series is off the charts with a positively evil villain who will make you crazy with her (yes, the villain is a woman!) machinations. As you can see I get really into these books, and hope that my readers and other new readers will love them as much as I do.
Q: Tell us more about what you’re looking for at Jack’s House—and what you’re not interested in.
A: Because my personal involvement is so key to our program, I’m interested only in the genres that I enjoy as a reader—all forms of contemporary romance, including suspense, New Adult, the one that starts with an E, which I can’t include here or FB will block this post (LOL), and straight contemporary romance. I am also interested in super hot historical romance in the Regency, Victorian and Scottish time periods/settings. I like it HOT, so if your books are sizzling, we are interested. I am not interested in “sweet” romance, paranormal, sci-fi, or any other genres of romance except those listed above. I apologize in advance to the authors that are excluded by our genre restrictions, but in order for me to get excited about the books, I have to love them. As a ravenous romance reader, I never have bonded with the paranormal genre, for example, even if I admire the tremendous world building and other elements that paranormal authors pull off so amazingly well. It’s just not my thing, thus my inability to champion it as a publisher.
Q: What gets you excited about a submission?
A: I like to be immediately captivated by incredible writing and storytelling. Authors have to do those two things well—at the same time—which is far more difficult than it seems. I want to be drawn in by characters I fall in love with, stories that have me turning the pages and writing that makes me forget I’m reading a book. Take J.T. Geissinger’s book, Wicked Beautiful, for example. That book grabbed me by the throat on page one and took me on one of the wildest rides I’ve ever been on as a reader. The opening is freaking FANTASTIC! One of the best openings I’ve ever read, and I read a ton. I’m so delighted to be publishing J.T.’s amazing Wicked Games Series, and I can’t wait to read book 3, Wicked Intentions, which we will publish on July 11, 2017. I truly believe that J.T. is an author to watch. She’s going places, and I couldn’t be more honored to be part of her career.
In summary, I want to be BLOWN AWAY, and when I am, I will want to publish that book!
Q: What can authors do to improve their chances of blowing you away?
A: Make sure their books are as polished and ready for “prime time” as they can possibly be at the time of submission. If an author makes it impossible for us to say no, we won’t say no! We also find that when we request full manuscripts, the writing and storytelling often begins to fall apart in chapters 4, 5 and 6, which tells us the author has worked very hard on the opening chapters but not as much on what follows the opening. I advise anyone who wishes to submit to us to spend as much time on the chapters that follow the submission as you did on the submission itself. You never know when we will ask for a full manuscript, and we want you to have the best possible chance for success.
Q: Will you accept a submission from my agent?
A: Absolutely! We have slowly begun to accept agented submissions. At the beginning, we were—frankly—a little concerned about being able to keep up with the submissions. Now that we’ve gotten an effective system in place, we are more able to accommodate a greater number of submissions, including agented submissions. However, I will add that if or when we acquire your book, we really want to work directly with the author as much as possible. My mentorship of our authors is such a critical element of our program that it wouldn’t work as well with someone in the middle. So please have your agents go right ahead and submit your books to us.
Q: Are you looking to publish a lot of books or to work with a smaller group of authors to grow their careers?
A: We are open to either scenario. It’s all about the books. If a book is amazing, we are going to be interested.
Q: Are you more focused on series or single titles?
A: If I could have anything I wanted, I’d be looking for a prolific author who has an amazing series idea and the ability to regularly produce new books. That said, however, submit a single title that blows me away, and you’ll be hearing from us.
Q: When it comes to building an author, what are some of the strategies you will incorporate at Jack’s House?
A: I’m a big believer in keeping the focus on the BOOKS in my own career, so I encourage our authors to do the same. There are so many other factors vying for an author’s attention in this increasingly competitive environment. The one thing we are in complete control of as authors is our books, and the math is fairly simple in this regard—more books equals more readers. With J.T. publishing her third Wicked Games book this year, we’ll have the opportunity to do some marketing with the first two books in the series to get readers excited to read book 3. The more we have to work with, the more we can do. I also encourage all new or newer authors to keep their focus almost exclusively on their books for the first few years and resist the urge to run around to events that take time away from the books. Sure, it’s a great thrill to sit in a room full of authors and sign books. But it’s an even greater thrill, in my opinion anyway, to finish a new book and get it out to readers. That’s how you grow your business—by writing new books. It’s all about inventory.
I like to use the retail store scenario as an example of how important this is. If you opened a clothing store with a single pair of pants, a shirt and a pair of shoes, you wouldn’t be in business very long because once those items are sold, you’re out of inventory. The same is true for authors. If you have one, two or three books on sale, once a reader has read them all you are effectively out of business with that customer. That’s why growing inventory and backlist is so critical to having a long and lasting career as an author. I want to work with authors who agree with this philosophy and are willing to do the work to produce more books that we can get out to readers as soon as possible.
Q: Are you willing to take more questions from readers of this post?
A: Absolutely! Bring them on.
Q: How can readers find out more about Jack’s House Publishing?
A: Visit out website at jackshousepublishing.com. To submit, follow the directions under the Submit tab. We look forward to receiving your submission! If you prefer to ask questions offline, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Wicked Beautiful, book 1 in J.T. Geissinger’s Wicked Games Series:
Preorder Silicon Valley Billionaires: LAUREN, book 1 in the Silicon Valley Billionaires Series by Leigh James—out on Feb. 21:
Get Silicon Valley Billionaires: LAUREN in print at Amazon. More print links coming soon.