Explained: Social media and the megahit of romance/YA author Colleen Hoover

Her Instagram bio reads: ‘I don’t get it either’ – a reference, perhaps, to the phenomenal success of her literary career which she launched with a romance novel intended as a Christmas present for his mother. But if there’s one thing Colleen Hoover understands, it’s how to leverage social media to engage readers and keep them engaged.

If you’re a reader or social media enthusiast, chances are you’ve been hit by CoHo fever or it’s already on your #TBR (must read) list. CoHo, as Hoover is known among fans, has become the toast of the commercial publishing world thanks to the skyrocketing popularity of his books – a mix of romantic and YA themes. For 62 weeks now, the 42-year-old Texas-based writer ‘It Ends With Us’ (2016) has been on the New York Times bestseller list for print and e-books (fiction), followed by ‘Verity’ (2018 ) and ‘Ugly Love’ (2014) at 37 and 32 weeks, respectively.

For the past two years, his books have been on almost every bestseller list in the United States, with as many as six books in the top 10 at times. “It Ends With Us” has sold on its own over 3 million copies. His books are dominating the #bookstagram and #BookTok trends and there’s a film adaptation in the works for “It Ends With Us”.

Social Worker to Bestselling Author

A mother of three, Hoover, who lives in East Texas, was a social worker and nutrition counselor before she started writing. She wrote her first YA novel ‘Slammed’ – a romance between an 18-year-old woman, Layken, and Will, a poet – and would go on to self-publish the book in 2012, to meteoric commercial success. Since then, she has written more than 20 novels, including “Layla” (2020), “Regretting You” (2019) and “All Your Perfects” (2018), in addition to novels and short stories. Her new book, ‘It Starts With Us’, is a sequel to her monster hit, ‘It Ends With Us’, and will be released in October.

TikToking its path to success

In 2012, when Hoover released “Slammed,” her first foray into YA territory, she adopted what was then a fledgling promotional strategy. She used BookTube, the book community on YouTube, to interact with readers and give away free copies to bloggers with large subscriber bases. In an industry dependent on traditional marketing methods, this has proven to be a golden opportunity to connect directly with readers and use social media to succeed in the real world.

When Instagram came along, Hoover took to #bookstagram, posting anecdotal snippets of her life as a writer, her family, and the journey that takes a book from idea to reality. Even when Hoover promotes her work and herself to her 1.6 million followers on the platform, she is irreverent and self-deprecating, taking her success lightly, a trait her fans find endearing.

Hoover, of course, isn’t the first writer to leverage social media for favorable results. Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ (2017), Ali Hazelwood (the Italian author of ‘Stuck With You’, 2022, ‘The Love Hypothesis’, 2021, among others), fantasy author Sarah J Maas, were all its beneficiaries.

Hoover’s success only reinforces the influence that such mass social media fandom can wield in the age of digitalization. A TikToker enthusiast herself, in recent years, especially since the pandemic, Hoover’s books have become a staple of #BookTok virality. The hashtag #colleenhoover has nearly 2 billion views on the platform, closely followed by #ColleenHooverBooks and #CoHo.

Hoover’s CoHort, mostly young women in the influential 18-24 age group, posted countless videos professing their love for her work, ranking their favorites, and recording their reactions to many of her novels. In an age when readers are hard to find, this validation on social media platforms is worthy catnip for publishers.

Modern Love and Other Incredible Twists

Imagine a Harlequin romance redux, add a dose of covert trauma, end with an emotional rollercoaster of an ending, and you might get an idea of ​​what makes Hoover’s novels tick. From steamy romances to comedies to gothic thrillers, Hoover has dabbled in every twist of the genre, but the elements that anchor her books are trauma and her ability to introduce the most fantastical twists to worn-out tropes of happiness for still.

Most of his core pairs are people who have stood up to domestic abuse or sexual abuse or some other form of suffering that brings them together or tears them apart. “Verity” involves a ghost writer, hired to complete a crippled author’s autobiography, digging into her mysterious past, even as she falls headlong in love with the woman’s dashing husband.

In “It’s Ending With Us”, the lead couple must deal with their complex history of domestic violence to make sense of their relationship. In the stereotypical world of white heterosexual romance, this translates into dramatic, accessible, and binge-worthy content for all women. It’s a win-win situation anyway.

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