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How I Do It: Indie Authors Share The Secrets Of Their Success – This Week: Marie Force

How I Do It: Indie Authors Share the Secrets of Their Success – This Week: Marie Force

Headshot of Marie Force

Marie Force, bestselling indie author, who says self-publishing for the first time was the best thing that ever happened to her

Want more success? Write more books. Our interview with the lovely US indie and trade-published author Marie Force makes refreshing reading for all those jaded with the constant pressure of marketing.  It's all in the books, says Marie. The secret of her mega self-publishing success, past, present and future, is all in the quality of her books. Read on for inspiration – but better sit down first, as her astonishing productivity will make you reel!

The secret of your success?

I don’t know if I’d call it a secret, per se, but I give ALL the credit for any success I’ve had to my books. I'm very fortunate that readers seem to connect with my books on a very deep level and keep coming back for more of my characters and series.

My Gansett Island series is at book 15 with no end in sight, Fatal is at book 10 with no end in sight, Green Mountain is set set up to go at least 18 books, and I’m really enjoying the Quantum series that’s at book 5. In addition, my readers ask every day for another book in my Treading Water series, which I thought was finished until they told me otherwise. I spend a lot of time in author forums where other authors talk about the various marketing strategies and promotion opportunities. While those things are important, I’m a big advocate of the books, the books, the BOOKS. They are the key to everything.

What’s the single best thing you ever did?

The best thing I ever did for my writing career was self-publish for the first time in the fall of 2010. That was a total game-changer, not just for my writing career but for my life in general. One year later, I was able to leave a 16-year day job to write full time. A year after that, I hired a full-time assistant and now have four full-time employees on my team. It’s been an absolutely amazing ride, made possible almost entirely by that single decision to self-publish some of my unsold manuscripts.

I’ve also done really well in traditional publishing, but nothing can compare to the impact that self-publishing has had on my career—and my life. To bring it further into perspective, my business recently hit the eight-figure revenue mark.

80 percent of that is from 30 self-published titles whereas 20 percent is from 20 traditionally published books.

I expect those percentages to creep closer to 70-30 as my new contract with Harlequin continues, but the disparity in revenue is quite significant.

Did you get lucky? What happened?

Cover of Desire After Dark by Marie Force

The next in the 15-book Gansett Island series

I love the quote that luck is the convergence of preparation and opportunity. I had been writing for years with limited success by the time digital self-publishing became a viable alternative. I had a lot of unsold books ready to go, and as soon as I could, I began publishing them one right after the other.

This gave my career a huge boost that most likely wouldn’t have ever happened without self-publishing.

I published the first three Gansett Island books three months in a row in 2011, and that series is now closing in on 3 million books sold. Book 15 will be out in May with much more to come. When opportunity knocked, I was READY.

That, along with the hundreds of rejections I received early in my career, turned out to be the luckiest of lucky breaks for me. I give thanks every day that Maid for Love, book 1 in the Gansett Island series, was rejected by every publisher in the romance business. That series has changed my life and that of the friends/family that now work for me. Everything has been made possible by Gansett Island.

How do you get/stay in creative mode?

I have a lot of obligations—to my readers, my publishers, my employees and my family. I don’t have the luxury of being able to wait for my muse to show up and tell me it’s time to write. I have a job to do every day, and I do it. I write seven or eight books a year, tending to each of my four series on a regular basis.

How do you prioritise?

I have a writing schedule that dictates what I’m writing and when. I set my own deadlines with my two publishers (Harlequin’s HQN and Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Random House) and have time built into the schedule to write my two self-published series. The excel spreadsheet with the schedule laid out into 2018 runs my life. I start each day with time for email and social media, and I’m usually writing by 9:30. I keep it up until the words stop coming, and then I call it a day. After dinner, I deal with more email and Facebook and Twitter, etc. In between all of that are family obligations and time with my kids, although only one of them still lives at home. I try to spend as much time with him as I can because I know how fast the high school years go by after already seeing my daughter through high school.

What’s next?

Cover of Aint She Sweet by Marie Force

Coming soon: the sixth in Marie Force's Green Mountain book

Ain’t She Sweet, Green Mountain book 6, is out on April 26. I’m working on the next Gansett Island book, Desire After Dark, that I hope to have out in May, and when I finish that at the end of March, I’m right into the next Green Mountain book, Every Little Thing, that’s due June 15. My next Fatal book, Fatal Identity, is out on July 26. I also hope to have the fifth Quantum book, Ravenous, out later this year. My schedule pretty much goes from one series to the next to the next and the next, and then rinse and repeat. 🙂

What’s your top tip for other indie authors?

Write more books. Nothing you do will grow your career or your following the way more books will. If you have time to write or promote but not both, write more. Your books are your greatest promotional tool, and the more of them you have, the better your chances of connecting with readers who will follow you throughout your career.


Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, 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 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series from Berkley Publishing as well as the new erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of MS Force.

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.

Join Marie's mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Twitter @marieforce . Join one of Marie's many reader groups. Contact Marie at [email protected].

A #selfpublishing force to be reckoned with: that's @MarieForce. Read her success story interview on our blog today. Share on X


This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. […] Check out Marie’s interview with ALLi where she talks about her writing career, advice for other authors, her creative process and more. Marie discusses her success saying, “I’ve also done really well in traditional publishing, but nothing can compare to the impact that self-publishing has had on my career—and my life. To bring it further into perspective, my business recently hit the eight-figure revenue mark. 80 percent of that is from 30 self-published titles whereas 20 percent is from 20 traditionally published books.” Click here for more. […]

  2. Great article. I love your enthusiasm but I worry about your schedule. I like the premise that a good form of marketing is more books; I’ve read a few people say that recently and it is the way I am heading when I retire in 1 year and 9 months (who’s counting?) to take up writing full time. A piece of advice from someone who has worked hard for 40 years; make sure you fit in some off time; work life balance is important not just for your health and well being but for your family as well. Good luck.

  3. Thanks for sharing Marie, I would like to know more about the initial marketing of your first book and how you hire and use your assistants, and when your association of RWA started.

  4. This is such an inspiring story but how did she get herself out there in the first place? I find that Facebook hides my ‘author page’ posts and I’m pissing in the wind, so to speak, when it comes to promotion. What’s her trick?

  5. Am I alone in being skeptical of books produced with something like the timing of cars coming off an assembly line? Can they be thoughtful and worthy novels, or must they necessarily be written to formula, ringing changes on familiar territory? I don’t question that authors of such books are skillful, and that they develop big audiences. They are unusual in their ability to write fast, and they are handsomely rewarded for it. I freely admit that I could never do it. But I don’t want to. I want to do my best to write books that readers will savor, not the print equivalent of Big Macs.

  6. I have written a book (unbublished) on : Information for ALL and Rural Communities, based on my 25 years work with Rural Libraries in Zimbabwe, Africa….I want to self publish this book and I am not clear how to move forward as I have no access to funds.
    Scondly, I have written on Donkey Drawn Mobile Libraries of Zimbabwe, as I am the inventor of the first ever Donkey drawn Mobile Libraries Concept.

    Please advise me on how I can get started as a Self-Publisher; who to link-up with?

  7. Marie, that sounds to me like a prodigious output. It made me wonder about the length of your books. What would be the average word count? Are your books full novels or shorter novelettes?

    1. In a podcast Marie recently did, if I remember correctly, I think she said her word counts came in from 80k to about100k. She’s definitely writing full-length novels. If you’re interested in listening to the podcast (which was fantastic), it’s over on The Self Publishing Formula site.

  8. So encouraging for an introvert like me who occasionally pretends to be an extrovert. I’ll just ignore all those rejections she had at the beginning. I just wish I could buy the discipline she has to write so many books in so little time. I’m a slowpoke.

  9. I was fortunate to meet Marie Force at a Georgia Romance Writers’ conference a couple of years ago. I had just finished my novella (intended as a first in a series) and was ready (or so I thought) to publish.

    Her talk couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Marie talked about the reality of what it takes to build and sustain a career and why she chose the indie path. I had the chance to speak to her for a few minutes after her talk and she graciously explained why she thought that launching a book without several ready to follow, was a mistake. I was new to writing and indie publishing, and at the time, just didn’t know any better. Two plus years later, I’m still working on my initial launch, and though it’s meant a slower start for me, I’m certain it’s going to be what makes the difference between this being just a hobby and a career. I’ll always be grateful for meeting her that day, and the great advice she offered.

  10. Wow. That is a lot of books to write. The most in one series is 7 books and I’ve written 6 of those, and they are more novellettes than novels. You are productive.

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