Colleen Hoover has scared the living daylights out of me. Her book sales have gone into the stratosphere over the past year, due in part to her explosion on TikTok, where readers from her rabid fan base post videos on how much they love her books. But as it turns out, TikTok isn’t just a place for readers to connect with their favorite authors and other fans; it can also be a place to discover content.

I had noticed Colleen had one title, Verity, that was particularly popular with her fans. Countless videos about Verity—about how insane, gripping, mind-blowing it is—have been posted over the past year. The intensity got to such a fever pitch that it led to the 2018 title hitting the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list in early August 2021. This caught my eye, as the book was both self-published and an outlier from what Colleen, who’s best known for romance and women’s fiction, has typically written. When I took a closer look, I realized the novel was one of the strongest psychological suspense titles I have read. Our imprint, Grand Central Publishing, was lucky enough to have taken the novel over in October 2021.

I have been a longtime fan of Colleen’s work, always hoping there might be a chance for us to one day work together. But, as a well-established author, that can be tricky. She is not an overnight success; she has been writing for over 10 years and was already a #1 NYT-bestselling author when we approached her.

Because Verity had been self-published, I felt there was an opportunity to position GCP as publisher of Colleen’s suspense, a genre we are known for and very adept at handling. When I brought up this opportunity to the team, we started looking into what was making Colleen’s books, and Verity in particular, so in demand that sales were increasing each week.

According to NPD BookScan, sales of Verity had been steady for its first two years. Then they picked up dramatically in 2021. Her fans had found it and were buying it. We discovered a Verity discussion group that existed before summer 2021. The group had more than 19,000 members at the end of August 2021, when we were discussing taking over the rights to the book; the group now has more than 41,000 members.

There was no single moment that served as a tipping point for the novel, but there were two things in summer 2021 that stood out. In June, Kaitlyn Bristowe (a former Bachelorette) lost her copy of Verity while on vacation in Hawaii and posted in her Instagram stories that she would offer a gift basket to anyone who could drop off a copy to her hotel. Many started following the story to see if she got it, and she interviewed Colleen for her podcast in July. Also, at the end of July 2021, @NewlyNova posted about the book on TikTok with a viral video that now has 6.3 million views. Gathering these facts helped show how TikTok was driving sales for Verity and for all of Colleen’s books in an ever-growing manner.

Because Verity had been self-published, I felt there was an opportunity to position GCP as publisher of Colleen’s suspense, a genre we are known for and very adept at handling.

Colleen is a natural storyteller, and she uses her gifts in Verity to create unbearable suspense. The story line is deceivingly simple: an up-and-coming novelist named Lowen is hired by Jeremy, the handsome husband of Verity, a famous author who has become permanently incapacitated and bedridden due to an accident, to finish writing her bestselling series. Lowen moves into their home and soon discovers a manuscript that reveals horrifying secrets about Verity and the family, all while Lowen starts to fall for Jeremy.

Verity is dark, twisty, twisted, scary, sexy, and has an ending that will leave your head spinning. The novel reminds us that winning plot twists—the kind that actually surprise and create debate—can be a huge source of pleasure for readers (and editors!).

Many fans have posted about Colleen’s romance titles, as she delivers such incredible tearjerkers, and so many want to share about the intense feelings her books can bring. With Verity, it has been exciting to see her fans responding to something different, offering a steady CoHo supply of deep emotions wrapped up in genuine chills and shocking twists.

With three more suspense novels signed up from Colleen at GCP, I can’t wait to see what she will come up with next. I’m looking forward to being scared late into the night... as long as I can keep the lights on.

Karen Kosztolnyik is the v-p and editorial director of fiction at Grand Central Publishing.