FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Marie is the author of more than 50 contemporary romance novels, including her bestselling Gansett Island, Fatal, Green Mountain, Butler, Vermont, 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. 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.
Jack's House FAQ
How many books may I submit for consideration?
At this time, we ask that you submit one book at a time. Once you have received an answer on that book, you may resubmit with another book.
Can I have my agent submit the book for me?
Yes, your agent can submit for you, but please know that we prefer to work directly with our authors after acquisition. This is an important part of our program, so if you or your agent are not comfortable with that arrangement, this might not be the right publishing program for you.
I’ve written a fantastic historical romance. Can I submit it?
That depends… is your Regency, Victorian or Scottish historical romance erotic? If so, we are definitely interested. Otherwise, we’re not looking to acquire historical romance or any romance genre other than contemporary romance, which includes hot contemporary, erotic, new adult or suspense. Please note the three historical genres we are looking for: Regency, Victorian and Scottish.
By hot you mean…
Sexy! We want all the details! Leave those bedroom doors wide open.
So if my book is considered “sweet” or “inspirational,” you are not interested?
Not unless your sweet or inspirational story includes smoking hot sex scenes.
Give me an example of the kind of author you love so I’ll know what you mean when you say smoking hot…
Lauren Blakely, Christina Lauren, Emma Chase and Kristen Proby, to name a few.
I have a huge Twitter following, but my book isn’t really ready to be published. Would you consider me for your program?
You vastly improve your chances for acquisition by submitting a book that is as close to ready to go live as you can make it on your own. We’ll help you take it the rest of the way. A big Twitter following is awesome (congrats!), but we are far more interested in your book than we are in your Twitter following.
How do I get my book to the point where you would consider it?
Work with critique partners and beta readers to plug those plot holes and tighten up your writing. We want you to have the best possible chance of catching the eye of our acquisition team!
I have a fantastic proposal for a book that meets your criteria. May I submit it?
Sorry, but no. We are looking for FINISHED, POLISHED books, not future books. When you finish writing the book, we’d love to see it.
If I submit my book, will Marie read it?
No, Marie will not see most of the submissions. They will be vetted by her team who will bring her in when they feel they have found something special.
I submitted my book for consideration, but other than the acknowledgement of my submission, I haven’t heard from you. Why?
Your book is still be evaluated. We’ll get back to you when we have more information for you. If you haven’t heard from us 60 days after you submit, please check in at email@example.com.
After my book is acquired, what will happen?
We will immediately move the book into editing and begin work on a cover design while consulting with the author on all aspects of her (or his) website and social media. In addition, we will begin work on a publication plan that includes everything from metadata to pricing to release date while simultaneously drafting marketing and publicity plans.
Who has ultimate decision-making authority over my book?
While you are the author and your name will be on the book, we will strongly encourage our authors to follow the advice we offer based on our cumulative years of experience and success.
Where would my book be sold?
Your ebooks would be on sale at Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay and in print at CreateSpace and Ingram Spark, which distribute to Amazon and Barnes & Noble online, among others.
Will you offer an advance payment to authors you acquire?
No, we will not. We will, however, absorb all the pre-publication costs, including editing, cover design and formatting as well as much of the cost of marketing and promotion.
When will I get paid?
Retailers pay monthly, and we will, too. If your book is published in June, for example, the first payment will be received in late August. You will be paid in early September and every month after that.
What happens at the end of the two-year contract period?
We revert the digital and print rights back to the author along with the edited manuscript and the covers we have designed for your ebook and print book, which is another benefit to our program.
I have the rights back to books I wrote and published years ago with ____ publisher. Would you be interested in seeing those books?
While I’m thrilled to hear you’ve gotten your rights back, books written years ago will probably not have the edgy, sexy, provocative storyline we’re looking for. But if they do, and you feel comfortable that they meet our criteria, feel free to submit.
Are you looking for M/M or ménage contemporary romances?
Not at this time.
My self-published book is currently on sale. Do I need to take it down from the retail sites to have it considered?
Not unless we acquire the book. Keep collecting those sales in the meantime.
I would like to submit my series to you, but I feel that book 2 is the stronger book. May I submit book 2?
Unfortunately, no. If we’re going to help you build a series, we’d like to start at the beginning. Please submit book 1. If you are writing a series and feel that book 2 is much stronger than book 1, please do yourself a favor and go back to look at what can be done to strengthen book 1. If that one doesn’t rock, chances are most readers will never bother with book 2.
I have other questions that have not been answered here. Who do I contact?
You may reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions other than the status of your submission. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reply to those inquires.