Joe Hill: "I'm the 'Rocky' of Independent Publishing"

From motivational business books to the first book on super-sexy wrestler "Sable," he publishes what the people want.
Joe hill is a 34-year-old, self-made superstar of the motivational speaking circuit. His books, In Pursuit of Success and You Don't Sell What You Think You Sell were the back-of-the-room hits that accompanied his popular seminars, which he conducted non-stop around the country for four years.

"The constant travel was getting to me so I 'retired,' took a good long rest, and went fishing every day for two months. Sitting out in the boat one day, I realized where my passion was, and decided what I really wanted was to be a publisher. I had fallen in love with the business back when my books were being published. The whole process of seeing it go from a simple draft to a finished product fascinated me, especially knowing that a book can truly be a work of art if it's done properly."

Joe had devoured every publishing how-to book ever written, and "learned the ropes" from his publisher, Friedman-Fairfax, a mid-sized New York house. He cut his teeth on two moderately successful self-published sports books last year, one on an Indy car driver and another about a Florida motorcycle rally. These niche publications were just a warm-up for what was to come...

Hill had achieved some celebrity status on the speaking circuit, and was used to interacting with famous people. It didn't faze him to have WWF wrestling stars "Sable" and "Marvelous Marc" Mero living in his neighborhood (in Amelia Island, Florida), but when his young niece and nephew came for a visit, they were beside themselves.

"I wasn't really up on it, but Sable had gotten a lot of notoriety on the circuit, especially when she left the WWF under much-publicized circumstances. 'There's Sable's house! There's Sable's house!' the kids kept screaming every time we drove by. After three days of this--as embarrassed as I was--I went up to their door and asked if the kids could meet them. Marc was really friendly, ran off to get some pictures to sign, and the kids completely freaked out. Later on, my brother said to me, 'somebody needs to do a book with her,' but I didn't think much of it."

Hill did strike up a friendship with his neighbors and, as they were leaving on a trip to England, he gave them his Success... book to read during the flight. They loved the book and the friendship was growing--but then the Meros moved away from Amelia Island. That might have been the end of this story, but for the persistence of Joe's brother Chip. The Workout section of RenaMero.com says, "Rena's lean, athletic look is a result of strong dedication and discipline. Her eating pattern includes eating small frequent meals and drinking up to a gallon of water per day." Sounds like a good regimen for publishers...

"About a month later, my brother said we should email Sable (her real name is Rena) about the book idea, so we did, and she was flattered. She thought it would be fun, that we should talk about it. Today, we're about to publish a beautiful, full-color 220-page book--Undefeated-- just in time for BookExpo. The book will look and feel very sexy, just like she is. Chip and I are co-authors with Rena, we've got a distribution deal, a New York publicity firm and a book signing tour--even a tour of military bases. It's going to be wild."

The book will profile Rena's tough-luck start in life as a fifteen-year old bride and then single mom, her modeling career, and break into the world of big-time wrestling. A quick Web search proves just how huge a force she is in that world-some sites are selling "collector's editions" of the book already.

Spurred on by the success of the best-selling books by wrestlers The Rock and Mankind, the Hills are expecting huge sales from their efforts. They call their company Total Power Publishing, and already have some new deals in the works with other sports and entertainment personalities. Joe warns his fellow publishers that in spite of Rena's glamour, it's not always a glamorous job. "We view these projects as partnerships with our authors. We beat out some pretty big publishing players to get this deal, so we take it very seriously. Both sides have to work really hard, and the relationship has to be totally open and very up-front."

"I want the small publishers out there to know that it is possible to achieve success. Just be sure that if you're going to publish, make it a grand slam. This business is tough, so you'd better be certain there's a good market for your book. There's no value in a bunch of books sitting in your garage. It takes a lot of hard work and a little luck. This is your life you're investing in, so make it a good one."