Who is Colleen Hoover, the Texan author who is taking the novel genre by storm?

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Novelist Colleen Hoover started writing fiction as a hobby. She has now sold 8.6 million copies in print and topped bestseller lists with books like “Slammed” and “Point of Retreat.” Photo by Chad Griffiths, courtesy Books on earbuds

Take a look at any major bestseller list and you’ll notice the ubiquitous brightly colored paperbacks with Colleen Hoover printed in a basic block font on the covers. Currently, Hoover’s novels hold six of the top 10 spots on The New York Times’ List of pocket fiction bestsellers. In the past year, the author has sold 8.6 million print copies of his novels, so it’s no exaggeration that the East Texas writer is a publishing phenom of proportions. colossal. In fact, no other author has ever topped the charts with multiple titles like Hoover, not even Stephen King or John Grisham.

Like some of its protagonists, Hoover came from a modest background: Born in Sulfur Springs and still living in a small nearby town, Hoover married her boyfriend shortly after graduating from Saltillo High School and gave birth to three sons before the age of 26. She later earned a social work degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce, worked in various social work positions, returned to school for another degree in child nutrition, and took a job with the federal program. Women, Infants and Children (WIC). while adopting fiction writing as a hobby.

His daily routine was a far cry from the idyllic writer’s life of a bedroom to himself and endless quiet hours at a desk. Hoover and her family lived in a single-width mobile home, her husband was a long-distance truck driver (gone 28 days a month) and she often worked 11-hour days between driving her children to and from school and d ‘other activites. She found time to write fiction in a darkened theater while waiting for rehearsals for her son’s play to end.

In 2012 Hoover completed his first romantic thriller, Slammed, a young adult story that follows a teenage girl in the aftermath of her father’s death and self-published on Amazon, a route she took because she didn’t know how to find a literary agent. She continued to write and publish, and surprisingly Slammed and its sequel, retreat pointlanded on the New York Times bestseller list for e-books during the summer of 2012, thanks to positive reviews from book bloggers and other online reviewers on YouTube, Instagram and elsewhere. Long before other authors realized that cultivating a social media presence would be a requirement of their profession, Hoover handed out free copies of his first novel to many of these digital reviewers. Shortly after, Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, took over the first two novels and then the film rights to Slammed were optioned.

Today, 42-year-old Hoover, nicknamed “CoHo” by her fan base and loyal admirers who call themselves “CoHorts”, is more popular than ever: she has 3.9 million subscribers across several platforms, with regular posts about it. work, life and gratitude for his evangelical readers. The author is something of a megaplex of contemporary novels for one woman with 25 years and romance novels and short stories in addition to her uninterrupted presence on social networks. Fans can’t seem to get enough.

“I am one of the first CoHorts. I bought Slammed when you first posted it and have loved your writing ever since! I have almost all of your books and now my daughter is a big fan too! Congratulations Colleen. You worked so hard for this! Enjoy and keep writing those jaw-dropping novels! — @diana.j.patrick on Instagram

“I’m a huge fan of @colleenhoover and her books. Plus, she’s a pretty awesome human with a devilish sense of humor and a heart bigger than Texas. — Christine Manzari on Pinterest

“This book [Verity]- okay being one of the best books I’ve ever read – makes me want to pull out every strand of hair on my head. So much love and appreciation for your writing, Colleen! —Emma Shand, author of the Colleen Hoover Facebook page

“I just finished this book. [Verity] the other day. I’m still messed up. Now I need therapy. —Phyllis Joseph Hunter, Colleen Hoover Facebook page

A brightly colored book cover with dark blue text that reads It Starts With Us

Courtesy of Atria Books

Hoover’s highly anticipated next novel, It starts with us hits shelves October 18. This latest entry in Hoover’s oeuvre is the sequel to It ends with us which is number 1 in the paperback market New York Times bestseller list even though it was published six years ago. Just this week The New York Times posted a lengthy profile of Hoover, detailing his rise to stardom; the comments from hundreds of readers are both respectful and vitriolic. (Unfortunately, the author was unavailable for an interview for this article.) Prior to the day of the sale, Simon & Schuster had taken in more pre-orders for It starts withh We than any other novel in the publisher’s history. (The last novel to occupy this coveted spot in the highest pre-orders was Stephen King’s Dr. Sleeppublished in 2013.)

Hoover’s novels aim to entertain, using the basic elements of a contemporary romance page-turner: romance with a capital R, steamy sex scenes, domestic abuse and violence, torrents of tears, plot twists, and more. Most of its protagonists are young women between the ages of 18 and 26, the same age as many of its readers. (“New Adult,” or NA, is how these coming-of-age novels are now described in the publishing world.) The author is more interested in writing propulsive, addictive reading than turn a lyrical phrase or develop complex characters. Hoover said in an interview with Lone Star Literary Life, “I want people to devour my books in one sitting because the script and the dialogue are too gripping to put down. I don’t try to write heavy books that educate, inform and impress. My sole purpose is to entertain, and I hope that’s what I do.

Social media has been the main driver of the Hoover mania. During the early months of COVID-19, many readers had more free time, and BookTok, a popular TikTok subculture, exploded. “Everyone was sitting at home,” says Janet Bailey, librarian at the Abilene Public Library. “Then they found Hoover through TikTok and said, ‘Oh look, here’s an author we haven’t discovered or will rediscover again. “”

Ebony Purks, a bookseller at Nowhere Bookstore in San Antonio, agrees: “BookTok pushes his books and gives him visibility as an author. The more people read her books, the more she is seen.

Another factor in Hoover’s success is that she appeals to a younger female reader, making her something of a Judy Blume for Gen Z and Millennials. “She includes many tropes popular with younger female readers: love triangles, enemy-lover relationships, happy endings forever, male love interests who are the kind of guys women wish existed in real life. It’s feminine as much as a feminine gaze can exist. This kind of male character appeals to young female readers,” says Purks, who has read a few Hoover titles (Confess and ugly love) when she was still in high school but now admits that the author’s books aren’t for her. “ugly love was one of the first spicy books I read as a teenager.

Ayah Chreidi, bookseller at Houston’s Blue Willow Bookstore, has read several Hoover titles. “Like many readers, I discovered it on BookTok because it kept popping up,” she says. “Finally, I recovered The end of us and stayed awake until four o’clock in the morning, reading the novel straight through. I couldn’t stop reading.

Admittedly, there is a lack of diversity among Hoover’s protagonists and readers. “Her readership tends to be young, white women,” Purks says. “That’s what people like because they know what they’re getting. There are hardly any surprises. They see themselves represented in Hoover’s books for this reason.

Other critics say Hoover exploits violence and abuse, calling it “trauma porn,” because she rarely delves into the complexity of these experiences and their painful consequences.

Along with her windfall of good fortune, Hoover has put some of her monumental success into helping others: She and her two sisters operate a monthly subscription service at a small store in downtown Sulfur Springs called The Bookworm Box. Books are signed and donated by best-selling authors, such as Meghan Quinn and Lexi Ryan, with 100% of proceeds going to selected charities, such as the Center for Grieving Children and The House: A Safe Place for Teens. To date, The Bookworm Box has donated $1 million to charities across the country. Additionally, each year her organization hosts the Book Bonanza in Grapevine, an annual romance novel convention, where the author and her sisters raise more charitable funds. (The next Book Bonanza, June 23-24, 2023, is already sold out.)

How long will Colleen Hoover’s remarkable momentum last? Will his books remain resistant? Or will they just fade away the social media platform that has served its purpose for a few years? For now, the multitude of fans doesn’t seem to care. They just want an escape.

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