In the latest installment of our interviews with self-published authors, Colleen Hoover discusses her writing inspiration, why she decided to self-publish and how she topped the bestseller lists.
What or whom inspires you to write?
I’ve always wanted to write, I just never thought it would be possible for me to do it as my career. Ultimately, it was the encouragement from my mother that inspired me to write my first book, Slammed. That and, of course, the Avett Brothers lyrics that says “decide what to be and go be it.”
For those who are unfamiliar, can you tell us about your books?
The Slammed series are Young Adult romance and the Hopeless books are New Adult romance. I can’t tell you much about the books without ruining them for you. Slammed is about a pig in the city and Hopeless is about a fish who gets lost in the sea and finds his way home with help from his forgetful friend, Dory. Just kidding! I’d have to say they’re just about life and the obstacles it throws your way. If you want to know more, you’ll just have to read them!
Can you tell us anything about your upcoming projects?
I’m working on two standalone books right now. The first is Maybe Someday which is scheduled to be released on March 18, 2014. The other is Ugly Love, which will be released Summer 2014. I’m really excited about getting these ones out there!
The success you’ve experienced through self-publishing is amazing; how did you feel when you hit the bestseller lists? You’ve also sold the film rights – how does it feel to know Hollywood will be bringing your book to life?
It was so surreal to hit the New York Times bestsellers lists for the first time with Slammed. To be perfectly honest, it’s still pretty surreal for me. I feel the same way about selling my film rights. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get completely used to it, but it has completely changed my life and I’m so grateful to my readers because without them none of this would be possible .
Your work comes under the ‘New Adult’ genre. Many agents and publishing houses did not, until recently, recognise this as a genre – is this a problem you found in the past? And do you feel that self-published authors such as yourself are challenging these traditional views, by proving how successful ‘New Adult’ books can be?
When I first started writing, I had no idea what genre my books were. I just wrote, and other people categorized my books for me. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a problem for me. However, I think the New Adult genre has really helped separate Young Adult novels from full-on adult Romance novels and it’s a welcome addition to the book world!
When do you find time to write? Does this differ from when you started writing your first novel?
When I wrote Slammed and Point of Retreat, I wrote in every spare moment. I work eleven hour days, and my son was in a play with the community theatre and had play practice three hours a day, five days a week. So, I wrote during his play practice. Then I went home and wrote some more. I probable averaged four hours of sleep per night for three months. Now, being an author is my full time job, so my writing hours are a little more flexible. It’s time consuming, but I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Why did you choose to self-publish? Did you try the traditional route first?
When I wrote Slammed, I only intended for it to be a Christmas gift for my mom. After doing some research, I figured out how easy it is to self-publish through Kindle Direct Publishing. I wanted friends and family to have access to it, so I self-published. I never expected anything to come out of it. I sent my manuscript to a few publishers at the beginning, but was respectfully turned down by all of them. Eventually, Simon & Schuster came to me and I have been so grateful for the opportunity to be able to work with them!
Would you have taken the opportunity to go down the traditional route if that had been a possibility?
It’s hard to say, but I probably would have. Fortunately, I was able to self-publish first and I’ve gotten the best of both worlds this way.
You’ve recently become a part of the Simon & Schuster team of authors – has being represented changed your writing life at all so far? If so, how?
It has changed my life completely. Simon & Schuster has such a great team and there is so much I couldn’t have done without them.
What do you think the greatest advantage of self-publishing is?
It’s great to be able to experience publishing firsthand and really get an idea of what all goes into it. It’s challenging at the time, but worth the experience.
On the other hand, is there anything you feel self-published authors may miss out on? Such as the editor-author relationship.
Absolutely! My publishers are very supportive and help me out in a lot of aspects. It’s always nice to know they’re there for me when I need their help.
Do you feel there is more of a sense of community with self-publishing than there is with traditional publishing? How important do you feel interacting with your fans has been?
I have made a lot of great friends in the self-published community. We all support each other and help each other out, and it’s been great. On the other hand, I have a very supportive community at S&S. For the most part, authors stick together and support each other, regardless of whether or not we are self-published. I believe interacting with my fans has been the most important thing I’ve done. If it weren’t for my fans, I wouldn’t have a career in writing. I’ve also made a lot of great friends in fans! My fans get me through my day, and writing wouldn’t be the same without them.
How important is marketing yourself in the early stages of your self-publishing career? Any tips?
My sisters did a lot of my marketing for me in the beginning stages and it was super helpful. Other than that, bloggers and my fans have been my best marketers. My advice is to just be persistent and don’t give up!
Did you design your own cover? How important do you think cover design is to a potential reader?
I didn’t design my own covers. I left that up to the pros! I think cover design is very important because it’s the first impression and, a lot of the time, readers see it weeks or even months before the book is actually released, so you want it to pique their interest ;).
Finally, do you have any advice for writers looking to self-publish?
Google is your best friend. I learned everything I know about self-publishing through googling and reading forums. If you want to be a writer and you want to self-publish, just “decide what to be and go be it.”