Texas woman self-publishes, hits best-seller lists
In the photo made Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, self publishing author Colleen Hoover posses and holds copies her books in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Hoover's romance novels books have made the New York Times bestseller list. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
SULPHUR SPRINGS, Texas (AP) — After a feverish month of inspiration, Colleen Hoover had finally fulfilled her dream of writing a book.
With family and friends asking to read the emotional tale of first love, the married mother of three young boys living in rural East Texas and working 11-hour days as a social worker decided to digitally self-publish on Amazon, where they could download it for free for a week.
"I had no intentions of ever getting the book published. I was just writing it for fun," said Hoover, who uploaded "Slammed" a year ago in January.
Soon after self-publishing, people she didn't know were downloading the book — even after it was only available for a fee. Readers began posting reviews and buzz built on blogs. Missing her characters, she self-published the sequel, "Point of Retreat," a month later. By June, both books hit Amazon's Kindle top 100 best-seller list. By July, both were on The New York Times best-seller list for e-books. Soon after, they were picked up by Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint. By fall, she had sold the movie rights.
"I wasn't expecting any of this at all. And I'm not saying I don't like it, but it's taken a lot of getting used to," said the 33-year-old Hoover, who quit her job last summer to focus on her career as an author.
Hoover is both a story of self-published success in the digital age and of the popularity of so-called "New Adult" books, stories featuring characters in their late teens and early 20s. Others in the genre include Jamie McGuire's "Beautiful Disaster" and J. Lynn's "Wait for You." The novels, which often have explicit material, are seen by publishers as a bridge between young adult novels and romance novels.
"In a nutshell, they're stories of characters in their formative year, when everything is new and fresh," said Amy Pierpont, editorial director of the Hachette Book Group's "Forever" imprint, where "New Adult" best sellers include Jessica Sorensen and J.A. Redmerski.
When Hoover finished her third book, "Hopeless," in December, she initially turned down an offer from Atria and decided to digitally self-publish again. By January, that book too was a New York Times best-seller and she signed that month with Atria to publish the print version, but kept control of the electronic version. The paperback is set to come out in May.