In a major departure for Hay House, the self-help and spirituality publisher is jumping into the fiction market. Its debut mystery novel, The First Rule of Ten by psychologist Gay Hendricks and screen writer Tinker Lindsay, will be published in January. Hay House has signed up 10 additional titles for its fiction list, with many more to come.
The main character in the Hendricks mystery is a Tibetan-Buddhist private detective in Los Angeles. “Our detective, Ten, is my idea of a hero for our times,” Hendricks said, “a person who can make his spirituality come alive in the real world of crime and intrigue.” The response to advance copies of The First Rule of Ten has been strong, and the new fiction category has sparked a lot of interest from foreign publishers.
Louise Hay, a renowned metaphysical author and motivational speaker in the self-help movement, founded Hay House in 1987 in order to publish her bestselling You Can Heal Your Life; her company has since evolved into the largest woman-owned publishing company in the world and has seen annual sales grow to $75 million a year. The house will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.
Hay, who recently turned 85 and still travels internationally on lecture tours, hired CPA Reid Tracy to help manage the company in 1988; he became its president and CEO 10 years later. “I think trust is the key element that has led to my successful long-term relationship with Louise,” Tracy said. “She trusts me to make the necessary decisions to run the business and has allowed me to make many mistakes over the years. As the years have grown, the trust has grown.” With Tracy at the helm, Hay House now publishes between 100 and 125 self-help titles a year in both hardcover and paperback from its Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters near San Diego. The house has more than 1,200 self-help and spirituality titles in print, and all of the Hay House titles are available as e-books. “We’re doing really well with that format,” Tracy said. “Our e-book sales are significant and grew two and a half times over the past year.” The press also produces children’s books, calendars, and card decks, and a significant number of its books are available in audio formats.
Hay House, which also has offices in New York, London, Sydney, Johannesburg, and Mumbai, employs close to 125 people worldwide. For such a large entity Hay House is unusual in handling its own sales and distribution, utilizing in-house telemarketing reps and a few field reps to call on major accounts. The press has a profound commitment to social networking, with a staggering quarter-million fans on Facebook, 300,000 followers on Twitter, and a Web site (Hayhouse.com) that goes far beyond a traditional browse-and-buy format to also feature live online author events, video streaming, and on-demand audio and video links.
In 2005 Hay House launched Hay House Radio, which now draws 900,000 listeners a month. Besides its regular programming with bestselling author hosts such as Iyanla Vanzant, Esther and Jerry Hicks, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Marianne Williamson, the online station (Hayhouseradio.com) also offers live seminars. Hay House Radio broadcasts 30 hours a week and is free to listeners.
“We’re transitioning to the digital age,” Tracy said, although he is quick to point out that print books still make up 85% of the company’s inventory and are the mainstay of its publishing platform. “We now offer 100 different apps, and we’ll bring out 50 enhanced e-books in the next six months.” For an independent press, Hay House is also distinctive for having a database of more than two million e-mail addresses that it uses for marketing.
“It’s incredible to think that Louise was 60 years old when she started Hay House,” Tracy said. A quarter of a century later, her company has sold more than 30 million copies of the title that started it all, You Can Heal Your Life, to dozens of countries and in 23 languages. “We’ve just passed the 60 million sales mark in books and CDs in the U.S. alone.”
Hay self-published her first book, Heal Your Body, in 1976, and didn’t then think about writing another one, let alone start a publishing company. “I founded Hay House because I wanted to help other writers get their message out to the world, and the universe seemed to want that message to be heard,” said Hay. “The best part about the company and our approaching milestone anniversary is how many people all over the world have been helped by the products we have produced.”