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Colleen Hoover is dominating the bestseller charts. Her fans explain why they’re so devoted

"She kind of rips your heart out."
/ Source: TODAY

Hundreds of fans zigzagged their way along Rockefeller Plaza, standing in line for hours to get copies of Colleen Hoover's newest novel, "It Starts With Us," on Oct. 18, the day it was released.

But the line didn't start at 30 Rock for most fans of CoHo's, the author's nickname. CoHorts, as Hoover's fans call themselves, told TODAY they traveled hours from Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and several other states to attend the pop-up event (which Hoover, who lives in Texas, wasn't even attending).

Olivia Ortiz, 18, told TODAY she traveled from Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday morning so she could make it to the event.

“She can always make me cry. Like if I need a good cry, I just pull out a Colleen Hoover book,” Ortiz said. “They’re really sad but they give me such a big serotonin boost. They’re easy reads.”

"It Starts With Us"
A "It Starts With Us" truck handing out cookies and hot chocolate as fans waited to purchase copies of the book.Courtesy Anna Kaplan

Sydnee Adkins, another fan in line for the pop-up, told TODAY she woke up at 2:50 a.m. to make a flight from Orlando, Florida, to New York so she could get a copy of "It Starts With Us" at the pop-up, which started at 11:30 a.m.

Adkins, who traveled to the event two friends, said she hoped to make it to the Statue of Liberty before she had to head back to the airport for her 9 p.m. flight back to Florida. "I have work tomorrow," the 20-year-old explained.

Hoover may not have (yet) have same name recognition as J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, but her books are undeniable publishing phenomenons along the lines of “Harry Potter” and “Twilight."

Hoover currently has six books out of the Top 10 spots on The New York Times Bestseller list for paperback trade fiction.

To put it in perspective, Hoover sold 8.6 million print books this year alone, according to NPD Bookscan — more books than James Patterson and John Grisham combined. In total, she's sold upwards of 20 million copies.

Hoover, 42, self-published her first novel, "Slammed," in January 2012. At the time, she was working as social worker and living in a trailer in Texas with her husband and three sons. The book hit the New York Times Bestseller list by the summer, and Hoover quit her day job to write.

Colleen Hoover, the author of "It Starts With Us" and other bestselling novels.
Colleen Hoover, the author of "It Starts With Us" and other bestselling novels.Courtesy Chad Griffith

Already a successful writer, BookTok — the bookish contingent of TikTok — is the instrument behind her recent astronomical rise. According to NPD Bookscan data, in 2020, the pre-BookTok era, Hoover's books sold 237,000 units.

Part of Hoover’s allure, according to her fans, is that she defies genres. She’s published more than two dozen books, including numerous romances, a thriller and a ghost story. Several of her novels incorporate domestic abuse, poverty and people experiencing homelessness.

Wendy Castillo, 23, was rereading her copy of Hoover's romance, "Ugly Love," while waiting in line to get a copy of "It Starts With Us." Castillo told TODAY she woke up at 5:30 a.m. to make it to the pop-up from Connecticut.

She explained she has started reading more, and more from other authors, since discovering Hoover's work a year ago on TikTok. "She kind of opened the world of other authors to me," Castillo said. "I'm like, you know what, if Colleen says they're good, then I'm looking for it."

Castillo added she discovered Hoover on TikTok, where Hoover has a cult following of more than 1.1 million. Videos tagged with #ColleenHoover have more than 2.5 billion views, and videos tagged with #ItEndsWithUs, the tag for Hoover's most popular book on the app, have more than 1.5 billion views.

Ariele Fredman, deputy director of publicity and marketing at Atria Books, the publisher of "It Starts With Us," told TODAY Hoover's fans played a role in her writing a follow-up to the 2016 book "It Ends With Us."

"'It Starts With Us' is here because readers from all around the world begged for it, and Colleen finally said ‘Yes, you’ve made this year — these past few years really — so amazing for me, and you all deserve the conclusion to this story,'" Fredman said. "She wanted to give Atlas and Lily a happy ending and I really think she accomplished that."

“It’s just amazing to see the palpable excitement and dedication from Colleen’s readers, as well as Colleen’s dedication to her readers, coming to fruition in this way," Fredman continued, speaking of the pop-up event. "It’s so rewarding for us to be celebrating together with this amazing group of readers on this incredible, momentous publication."

Bianca, a 14-year-old CoHort from Maybrook, New York, told TODAY she wanted to attend the pop-up for her 15th birthday. She traveled about an hour and a half to support her favorite author.

"I'd rather read her books," she answered when asked if she read other authors. "I started reading another book and stopped reading it so I could read another Colleen Hoover book."

Gina Tucci, 47, who traveled to Manhattan from Westchester County, said she found out about Hoover on Instagram about a year ago, and has read 10 of her books since. She told TODAY that Hoover started her on a reading journey, even though her books often leave her crying and with a headache.

"I like how she kind of rips your heart out of your chest," 15-year-old Grace Warren said of Hoover's books. Warren said she has read almost all of Hoover's books, and traveled for two hours from Long Island to get a signed copy.

"I knew she had a lot of followers, but seeing all these people who have read the same book as me, I'm just like ... what," Warren said.