Author Colleen Hoover joins The Object today to discuss her success with Slammed, the power of word-of-mouth reader recommendation, and when we can expect a new Colleen Hoover novel. This is the 1st in The Object’s Author Interview Series.
WELCOME, COLLEEN HOOVER!
Amazon Bestselling Author of
Slammed and Point of Retreat
Winston: Welcome to The Object, Colleen. I imagine you’re rather busy these days and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Let me start off by asking how you’re enjoying the success of your two-book series, Slammed and Point of Retreat?
Colleen: Thank you so much for having me. To be honest, it’s all really unbelievable. Every day I feel like the books have reached their peak, but then the next day is even better. I absolutely didn’t expect this when I wrote the books, so I’m not taking a second of it for granted.
Winston: Slammed was published on January 1st, 2012. Since then it’s climbed to #1 in the Drama genre on Amazon and was the top rated e-book in Romance. Currently it’s ranked #35 on Amazon’s Bestseller List. You’ve gained the support of the Avett Brothers, been mentioned in a Huffington Post article, and garnered a large and ever-growing fan base. One day soon your name might be listed right alongside Amanda Hocking and John Locke. What advice would you give an unknown author trying to break through?
Colleen: I just started writing Slammed seven months ago. I’m still so new to this that I really don’t feel like I have enough knowledge to be giving sound advice. I can share what I believe worked for me, though. When I first published Slammed, I used the free days from the KDP Select program and told everyone I knew about the book being free. Over a three day period Slammed was downloaded over 4,000 times for free. After the free period the first week, I had a few downloads a day for the first three months. What I think the kicker was for Slammed was word of mouth. I didn’t submit to bloggers, but readers would recommend my book to bloggers. In return, I noticed when a blogger would blog about the books, I would see an increase in sales. There is one blog in particular that I feel really was the catalyst for the change in rankings: www.maryse.net She has a huge and loyal following who really love her recommendations. She wrote a great review on Slammed and, in turn, I had several hundred downloads over the weekend. Since then, sales have been steadily climbing.
Also, I believe without readers recommending my books, they wouldn’t be where they are. I love my readers and do my best to respond to every email, every Facebook comment, every Goodreads message. If the reader can take time out of their day to tell me what they thought of my book, I should return the same courtesy.
Winston: Tell us a little about Slammed and Point of Retreat. What inspired the story? How much time did you spend writing it?
Colleen: I’ve always loved to write. However, since high school, I don’t think I’ve written anything longer than a Facebook post. I started college, got married and had three kids by the age of 25 so there wasn’t much time for writing. I’m 32 now and my kids don’t rely on me as much which gives me more time for my personal hobbies. My eight year old auditioned for a local theater and got a part back in November, 2011. I worked 11 hour days and would pick him up and take him to play practice when I got off work every night. I would have to sit in the auditorium for up to 3 hours each night, so I would read books on my iPad. I had recently watched a documentary on HBO called Brave New Voices about slam poetry. I thought it would be interesting to read a work of fiction where one of the characters was a slam poet, so I tried to find a book like that. When I couldn’t find anything remotely similar, I got a pen and paper and started making notes to write one. Within a few days, I had the first chapter. I soon fell in love with the characters and the story consumed me. I wrote every spare chance I got. I wrote from the moment I got off work until 2 or 3 every morning. I wrote 16 hours a day on the weekends. It was insane! By the end of December, I had a completed manuscript. I let my mother and a few friends read it and they loved it (or so they said). I really had no clue how to publish and was just going to somehow have it printed so my friends could read it. When I researched options I found that I could load it to Amazon. I thought that would be the easiest way for people to read it, which is why I made it free right away. Two weeks after I published Slammed, I started on the sequel. I finished it by the end of February and uploaded it.
I don’t know why, how or what the reason is for the success of the books, but I couldn’t be happier. After six years in college and three different professions, I finally feel like I’m doing what I was meant to do.
Winston: How are readers responding to your books? Are you surprised by the overall reaction to your work? Do you have a blog or forum where you interact with readers and discuss aspects of the books with them?
Colleen: Am I surprised? I’m FLOORED! The fact that this was my first go and they are seeing such great success is beyond anything I could have imagined. The thing that gets to me the most are the reviews. They’re incredible! I’ve had some readers respond with a review in the form of slam poems, which is amazing that someone would take that much time to write a review in that style. I absolutely love those.
I’m also very active on my blog. I post at least three or four times a week. I do random signed book giveaways that the readers love. I don’t have a forum, but I do my best to respond to everything. I’ll sometimes do Google searches for blogs that have mentioned my books and I’ll send the blogger a thank you email. I don’t catch all of these but I try. The majority of my marketing is spent thanking people who have read the book rather than asking people to buy the book. I see new authors (I was guilty of this) practically begging for people to buy their book every chance they get. I honestly feel like readers are turned off by this. I know I am anyway. So my suggestion would be to focus on the people that already love your book. This may inspire that person to suggest your books to their friends, and so on and so on.
Winston: What’s coming next on the bibliography? Are you working on a new release? When can we expect to see a new Colleen Hoover novel?
Colleen: I had an overwhelming amount of requests from readers to publish Slammed from Will’s point of view. I hadn’t planned on writing it because we already know how their story turns out, but I also feel like I owe it to the fans to give them what they want. They are, after all, the sole reason the books are doing so well. I’m currently working on that and hope to have it out by the end of summer. There’s a sample of the first chapter on my blog.
I also have another young adult contemporary romance in the works called Fall Together. I’m really excited about this one and I’m in no hurry to release it. I want it to be great, so it will be a while for that one. I know there is a lot about my writing that needs work and I’m doing my best to learn everything I can as fast as I can. I’m constantly uploading edits and just recently got paired up with a great editor who is going over both books. I’m trying to focus more on learning how to be a better writer and sharpen my skills rather than pushing another book out in a hurry. With the release of Will’s Story later this year, I’ll have had three novels published in 2012. I couldn’t be happier about that, but at the same time I want to push Fall Together back to 2013 to give myself plenty of time to perfect it.
Winston: Your success thus far seems to be only the beginning of something much larger. Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us. We’ll be recommending your books to all our readers.
Colleen: Thank you so much for having me!
Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.
Colleen released her debut novel, SLAMMED, in January 2012. She released the follow-up novel, POINT OF RETREAT, in February, 2012. She is currently working on a stand-alone titled FALL TOGETHER. And maybe…just maybe, she has listened to the pleas of her readers and is writing SLAMMED from Will’s point of view.
If Colleen’s life had a theme song, it would be Paranoia in B Flat Major by The Avett Brothers band.
Learn more about Colleen Hoover at http://www.colleenhoover.com
Buy Slammed on Amazon