Age 30, Colleen Hoover was living in a trailer. Now she's sold 20 million books.

Colleen Hoover says her life is pretty ordinary. 

“I lead such a boring life. I've been married to my high school boyfriend for 22 years," the author said in a goodreads Q&A. "I live in the same town I grew up in. We live in the middle of nowhere. Like so far in the middle of nowhere that we can't get pizza delivered to our house."

Yet, despite this so-called bland existence, the born and bred Texan has produced 26 novels in just over a decade – and sold more than 20 million copies of them. One of her bestselling tomes, It Ends With Us, is even being made into a film starring Blake Lively as leading lady Lily, who readers first met in It Starts With Us.

Hoover is a superstar of epic proportions, but despite her eponymous hashtag attracting more than four billion views on TikTok – and counting – #CoHo, as she’s known, still thinks her success is a “practical joke”.

Watch: Two Types of People. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

“I have imposter syndrome. I think all of this is a practical joke. I just keep playing the part and you should to until someone comes and tells us it's a prank,” she told fans in the aforementioned Q&A.


“I've been writing stories since I knew how to string a sentence together, but I didn't start writing my first novel until I was 31. I just always had excuses, was too busy, had three kids, was in college, etcetera. Once I finally sat down to write for fun and didn't take myself too seriously or try to make it a source of income, I was finally able to write for myself without pressure, and my first book was written.”

Hoover should give herself more credit. Her thrilling, heart-shattering and all-consuming romance novels (with the odd creepy thriller thrown in) are fixtures in the homes of women everywhere, gaining a cult following (known as 'CoHorts') among Gen-Z, thanks to the BookTok community on TikTok. 

It’s this cultivation in the digital space that’s been integral to her success – and it happened from the get-go with her first release, Slammed in 2012.


“I went into it so naively not knowing anything about the publishing industry,” Hoover explained to Elle. “I really thought, ‘Okay, just the people I want to read this are going to read it.’ [I] had no idea that there were book communities forming out there and online.”

The best part? Slammed was self-published and earned her a New York Times bestseller credit. That same year she released two more novels, Point of Retreat and Hopeless. Fast forward to 2023, and she’s the second most popular novelist on Goodreads behind Stephen King.

Her 2018 thriller Verity is the number-one book on BookTok. She has more than one million followers on the social media platform. Of her 26 books, six have been on the New York Times bestseller list.


“Any success of mine that came from TikTok did not come from me, it came from the readers who have made videos about my books and shared them on the app,” Hoover told Glamour, admitting that she “rarely” even posts on TikTok, and when she does, it’s typically not about her work. 

She prefers to save her words for her books, not social media. Sometimes, those words can be dark and very emotional. She touches on themes like domestic violence, murder, miscarriage and mental illness, but almost always circles back to love in the end. 

“I'm just a very dark person,” Hoover told Elle. “I feel like I have to kind of continue to make [my books] darker and more emotional so that I feel it.”


Anh Schluep, Editorial Director at Amazon’s romance imprint Montlake, tried to pinpoint the key to Hoover's success. 

“No one person only has romance in their lives. No one story is only a mystery or suspense. Our lives are a combination of drama, ups-and-downs, and—hopefully—love and acceptance,” she told Elle. “Colleen’s books are a snapshot of our lives. They have threads of all genres, which is why I think her stories are so universal.”


In short, through her writing, Hoover’s become a therapist, of sorts. Ironic, given she was a social worker in her past, pre-author life.

“I’ve heard from readers who left terrible situations that my books inspired them to do so – that’s the most amazing thing I could ever hope to happen,” she told TIME. “That just sharing stories could really help change another person’s life – the weight of that is immense, but if I’ve helped one person in any way, that’s something really special.”

As for the book of which she is proudest?

It Ends With Us will always be special to me because of how many readers the book has helped, and also because it was inspired by my mother,” she told fans via Goodreads.


It helps that Hoover herself grew up in a home reminiscent of Lily’s in It Ends With Us, but that’s the only book she’s ever written based on her own experiences, and people she knows – and there’s a reason for that. “I don’t want to make anyone angry; the only book I’ve ever drawn from personal experience is It Ends With Us and I probably won’t do it again, I like to use my imagination,” she explained.

One thing we love about Hoover is that she’s humble, and won’t take her success for granted. Before making it big, Hoover was making just $13 an hour as a social worker. Her husband William was a long-haul truck driver, and they along with their three sons lived in a trailer.

She told TIME, “Still, in my head I’m like, ‘This is going to end tomorrow, so I need to enjoy it."

Featured Image: Instagram.