It might start with a casual look at the bestseller list: a book by Colleen Hoover. Hmmm… never heard of her, you think. Then you notice his name again, just below, and a few more lines after that. But it does not stop there. Hoover, 42, who writes romantic fiction and thrillers, currently holds first and second place on The New York Times‘ and five others in the top 10. She has also written five of the 10 best-selling books of 2022 so far, according to NDA BookScan.

Topping the list is the author’s 2016 novel It ends with us, which is a Colleen Hoover classic: a captivating, sexy and airy read. Its long-awaited sequel, It starts with us, released on October 18 with a first print run of 2.5 million copies. (For comparison, best-selling author Harlan Coben’s upcoming thriller, I will find youhas planned a first printing of 750,000 copies for release in March, according to Library newspaper.)

We’ve had publishing “moments” before, says Kristen McLean, senior industry analyst for NPD BookScan, who points to past waves of reader enthusiasm for the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray series, for example. “What’s unique about Colleen’s story is that these books were one-off projects. It’s about Colleen and her readers’, who buy novels from her list. “It’s unusual,” adds McLean.

Steady, then stunning success

Just a decade ago, Hoover was a social worker living in a mobile home in East Texas with her truck driver husband and three young sons. She started writing for fun and self-published her first novel, Slammedin 2012. It hit the bestseller list, and she went on to write more than 20 more books — and sell 20 million copies — in the heady years that followed.

So there are plenty of readers who have long known the author whom many affectionately refer to as CoHo. These fans call themselves his CoHorts, including Karen Lawson, 72, a truly ardent Hoover fan since her daughter introduced him Slammed 10 years ago. Hoover Skyped with Lawson’s two different book clubs, whose members (all 60 and older) “also think she’s absolutely wonderful,” according to Lawson.

But the author’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent months, says Libby McGuire, senior vice president and publisher of Atria Publishing Group. “We were happy with his sales,” she says of Hoover’s previous success. “We didn’t know it could be magnified 10 times.”

This amplification began around mid-2021, during the pandemic, McGuire says, “when people were reading more and started sharing their love for his books on social media.”