Joining Marie’s Team Was Like Music to Nikki’s Ears
You can credit the Dave Matthews Band for bringing Nikki Colquhoun into the Marie Force fold.
In 2000 Nikki joined an event management company where Julie had been working. Their work focused on one facet of event management, registration. After they circled around each other for a few months, they realized they shared love of the Dave Matthews Band, which cemented their friendship.
A few years and another job or so later, Julie was working at a national organization in Virginia. Marie was communications director. Soon, Julie was telling her ‘old’ friend, Nikki, about her ‘new’ friend, Marie, who was writing romance and seeking opportunities to publish it. Nikki remembers Julie always spoke fondly of Marie and her family, whether it was stories about Marie’s young children or her trips to Rhode Island to visit Marie. Years later, Julie attended the Line of Scrimmage launch party in Rhode Island and shared that story and a copy of the book with Nikki. The party was quite modest compared to today’s Reader Weekend in RI. To set the stage, timewise, a few Fatal and Gansett Island books were written, but the Green Mountain and Quantum series were not even in Marie’s mind, much less in her computer. Nikki briefly met Marie when Marie was in Washington DC for a work event.
“And then all of a sudden it started turning into this way bigger monster when she started self-publishing,” Nikki says of Marie’s writing. One day Marie was delighted to get a book published and earn a bit of extra cash for it and then “she’s got books on the New York Times bestseller list.” Marie’s been on the list more than 20 times.
Ironically the first book in the Gansett Island series, Maid for Love, was rejected by every publisher in the romance business. So she self-published the first three books in the series, Maid for Love, Fool for Love and Ready for Love, in 2011. She’s since sold nearly 2.5 million ebooks of the 14-book-and-growing series, the series that allowed her to leave her day job to become self-employed in January, 2012.
Julie had mentioned to Nikki that Marie had talked about Julie one day working for her. They began talking about it more frequently as Marie’s success grew.
Nikki was on a business trip in Atlanta in November, 2012, when she got a call from Julie, who said Marie had offered her a job. The new role would not involve her leaving her beloved DC area to live in Rhode Island.
“I remember standing on the sidewalk, weighing the pros and cons with her,” Nikki says of the phone call.
“What is there to say no to?” she asked Julie. “You need to do this.”
When Julie accepted the position, Nikki wrongly assumed her friend would be really busy for about a year and then would settle into a much calmer routine. It hasn’t happened, thankfully, due to Marie’s incredible writing ability and increased readership, as well as her ability to stay ahead of publishing trends and connect with readers.
As Marie’s success increased, so, too, did the number of people who wanted to illegally share her books via online piracy. Nikki explains that much like people started pirating music when the files were computer files rather than housed on CDs, for instance, pirates will use the same file sharing process on bit torrent sites to illegally share and download Marie’s books. Julie called Nikki to say Marie was looking to hire someone to put a halt to piracy and to perform other administrative tasks. Julie knew Nikki’s work ethic and her internet sleuthing abilities and thought she would be great for the part-time remote position, which now allows Nikki to continue working for the event management company with which she’s been employed for 16 years. She lives in Pennsylvania.
Shortly after starting her new job, Nikki attended the Fatal Mistake launch party in Washington DC, helping Julie with tasks such as registering attendees and distributing goody bags. It was here that she got to know Marie, her husband, Dan, and her son, Jake.
“Dan and Jake were with her in their hotel room and they made me comfortable right off the bat.”
Today Nikki still battles piracy and continues to perform administrative tasks such as updating the web site and helping with registration and other undertakings at Reader Weekend in Rhode Island. When she finds someone who has pirated Marie’s book, she sends them a takedown notice telling them they are in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The offender will generally take it down. Sometimes, however, they will put it up again at a later date and Nikki will track them down again.
Nikki talks about the team of which she is a member and Marie.
“Team Jack never ceases to amaze me. Everyone has their tasks they handle and their areas of strength. Marie has built the perfect team to cover all aspects of the business,” so she can do what she does best, write books. While Marie may not personally perform all the tasks associated with the day-to-day operations of the business, she’s extremely involved.
“Not only is she one of the most creative minds I have ever known, but she also has an incredible business sense. Her brain is constantly working and never stops.”
“Her business sense always blows me away. It’s this ever-evolving machine. It’s never-ending because the books are always churning and Marie’s always coming up with her brilliant beyond brilliant ideas. It’s just fascinating to watch the whole thing happen. It’s crazy,” she says.
written by Cheryl Serra, Marie’s director of publicity—and one of her bridesmaids 23 years ago