Author Colleen Hoover’s word-of-mouth success

Sep 16, 2021, 7:36 AM | Updated: 7:47 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Colleen Hoover’s years as a published — and self-published — novelist have been one long, pleasant surprise.

The Texas-based writer broke through in 2012 when, through an Amazon.com program, she released “Slammed,” which became a showcase for how an author in the Internet age can succeed through luck and worth of mouth. Bloggers and social media helped the book grow a following online, and within months “Slammed” was on The New York Times e-book fiction list, despite having no organized publicity. By the end of the year, Hoover had self-published a best-selling sequel, “Point of No Retreat,” and signed a deal with the Simon & Schuster imprint Atria.

She has since been a prolific and reliably popular romance (sometimes called “New Adult”) and thriller writer, with more than 20 novels and novellas, including “Maybe Someday,” “Confess” and the upcoming “Reminders of Him.” Her work has been in especially high demand this year — but not because of a new book, movie tie-in or other news event.

Because of TikTok.

Her novel “It Ends With Us,” first published in 2016, has been selling tens of thousands of copies a week and topping bestseller lists thanks largely to its popularity on #BookTok, the TikTok niche where young readers talk up their favorite works. Hoover joins a growing list of #BookTok’s surprise beneficiaries over the past couple of years, including Madeline Miller for “The Song of Achilles” and Matt Haig for “The Midnight Library.” Barnes & Noble has even set up special tables for #BookTok favorites.

“Colleen Hoover has been a massive driver for customers over the last few months,” Shannon DeVito, Barnes & Noble’s director of books, said in a statement. “‘It Ends With Us’ has been trending on #BooKTok since June and we have been selling upwards of 10,000 copies per week.”

In a recent phone interview, Hoover sounded both amazed at her fortune and afraid she might jinx it. She says she and her husband still enjoy eating Hamburger Helper, and she only reluctantly acknowledges that she doesn’t have to worry anymore about paying for the education for her three sons.

“We’re scared to really change our routine or act like the sales will last, or even go out and celebrate with a nice dinner,” she says. “It takes things a while to soak in for us.”

Born Margaret Colleen Fennell, the 41-year-old Hoover had thought of becoming a writer since she was a girl, but set it aside while at Texas A&M-Commerce, when she married Heath Hoover and had her first child. She continues to follow an unpredictable path. Atria published “It Ends With Us,” but Hoover still likes to self-publish some of her work, including the thriller “Verity.”

Even before #BookTok’s assist, she helped expose her own work to new readers by offering some of it for free in 2020 as a gesture of support during the start of the pandemic.

During her interview, Hoover talked about luck, inspiration, publishing and self-publishing:

ON HER FIRST NOVEL

“I did social work for several years and started writing my first book when I was 31 because I was bored; it was just a hobby. I was just doing it because I love to write. When I finished it, I remember my mother had gotten a Kindle for Christmas, so I wanted to get the book on her Kindle. I researched how to publish on Amazon and came across their self-publishing platform. I loaded up the book on New Year’s Day and told my friends on Facebook, ‘Hey, I wrote this story.’ I wasn’t even calling it a book.

“Everything took off from there. It was a bestseller by word of mouth. I had to use the Amazon tracking device to know how it was doing. Every day we were tracking sales, and my husband and I would be like, ‘Six people bought the book,’ and it went up and eventually it was in the hundreds.”

HER MOTIVATION FOR WRITING ‘IT ENDS WITH US’

“I got the idea because of my mother’s and father’s relationship. She and he divorced when I was 2. I don’t have a lot of recollections of what they went through, but I knew that he was abusive, and I never understood how it happened because she was such a strong and independent person. And I want to know how she got into that situation. I wanted to write the book from the perspective of my mother and how she went through it. I always say I write to entertain, I don’t write to inform or to educate. But this book was a different beast.”

WHY SHE STILL SELF-PUBLISHES

“I’ve just been doing it for so long. My sister is an editor and cover designer, so I have people in my family who help with aspects of it. I just really enjoy it. Also, I feel like when I published with a publisher, the successes are theirs, but the failures are mine. That’s just something I feel, or make myself feel. But with self-publishing, all the successes are mine, and all of the failures are mine.”

HER ADVICE FOR YOUNGER WRITERS

“A lot of people ask me ‘What’s your secret?’ And my answer is, ‘I don’t have one.’ It’s just been a lot of different things that led to this point. There’s no magic answer.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Musician R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building in Chicago on June 6, 2019. Ke...
Associated Press

R Kelly accuser to give key testimony on trial-fixing charge

CHICAGO (AP) — R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago that starts Monday is in many ways a do-over of his 2008 state child pornography trial, at which jurors acquitted the singer on charges that he produced a video of himself when he was around 30 having sex with a girl no older than 14. There’s […]
6 hours ago
FILE - People vote on Election Day at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School in the Lower 9th W...
Associated Press

Conspiracies complicate voting machine debate in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The need for Louisiana to replace its voting machines is not in dispute. They are badly outdated — deployed in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina struck — and do not produce paper ballots that are critical to ensuring election results are accurate. What to do about them is another […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Climate bill: Could coal communities shift to nuclear?

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A major economic bill headed to the president has “game-changing” incentives for the nuclear energy industry, experts say, and those tax credits are even more substantial if a facility is sited in a community where a coal plant is closing. The transformative bill provides the most spending to fight climate change […]
6 hours ago
Aslef, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen members are pictured on a picket line...
Associated Press

Driver walkout halts trains as UK summer strike wave spreads

LONDON (AP) — Thousands of U.K. train drivers walked off the job Saturday in a strike over jobs, pay and conditions, scuppering services across much of the country. The action was the latest in a spreading series of strikes by British workers seeking substantial raises to offset soaring prices for food and fuel. The 24-hour […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Dutch arrest man linked to currency mixer Tornado Cash

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch financial prosecutors say they detained a man suspected of involvement in “concealing criminal financial flows and facilitating money laundering” through the virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash. The 29-year-old man was arrested Aug. 10 in Amsterdam, the financial prosecution service FIOD said in a statement Friday. The suspect’s identity was […]
6 hours ago
Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko speaks to The Associated Press reporters during an intervi...
Associated Press

Ukrainian minister says Russia blocking access to medicines

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s health minister has accused Russian authorities of committing a crime against humanity by blocking access to affordable medicines in areas its forces have occupied since invading the country 5 1/2 months ago. In an interview with The Associated Press, Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko said Russian authorities repeatedly have blocked […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Author Colleen Hoover’s word-of-mouth success