'Joe the Plumber' Looks to Stretch His 15 Minutes

New Book, Website, Tour Turns Erstwhile Campaign Headline Into Media Brand

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the beginning he was just an average Joe. Then he became Joe the Plumber, star of the presidential debate. And with fame came other epithets: Joe the Concerned Citizen, Joe the Fraud and Joe the Opportunist.

Now Samuel J. Wurzelbacher can add Joe the Brand to his many nicknames.

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher is taking his Joe the Plumber persona on a book tour.
Samuel J. Wurzelbacher is taking his Joe the Plumber persona on a book tour. Credit: AP
Make of it what you will, but later this month a book he co-wrote with relatively unknown author and publisher Thomas N. Tabback, "Fighting for the American Dream," will come out. Thousands of copies have already been pre-ordered at $24.95 each via a star-spangled website (theme: "It's about we the people, not we the government") that also offers Joe-approved merchandise and the ability, for a price, to post to its blog and forum.

Telling his side
With all the Joe tales told since October, when Mr. Wurzelbacher first gained notoriety after questioning the tax plans of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, Mr. Tabback believed one story was noticeably missing, Mr. Wurzelbacher's own. "We felt he had more of an interesting story to tell aside from the more tabloid-style events around the election," Mr. Tabback said. "And it turned out we were right."

His 2-year-old husband-and-wife operation, PearlGate Publishing, will publish the 192-page hardcover, but a set publication date has not been determined. Those who pre-order the book by Dec. 8 on SecureOurDream.com -- a website Mr. Tabback developed for Mr. Wurzelbacher in conjunction with Visuplay, a media producer based in Dallas -- will receive a signed copy by Christmastime. But everyone else will have to wait until after the holiday for the book. Mr. Tabback said it will be available through Barnes & Noble, but that his firm is "still discussing with distributors and buyers about the broad retail market."

Still, the media outlets are lining up for after Christmas, when Mr. Tabback expects a national book tour for Mr. Wurzelbacher, with stops in New York, Las Vegas, Texas and Mr. Wurzelbacher's home state of Ohio. He named "Good Morning America," the "Laura Ingraham Show," the "Mike Gallagher Show," and "Fox & Friends" as outlets that have already expressed interest. And he also will reach out to other press with early review copies and what he calls a "complete marketing kit."

Plugging products
Messrs. Tabback and Wurzelbacher have talked about promoting products on SecureOurDream.com, but right now "that's in development," he said. There is a "Shop Joe" tab on the website that to date lists only "Fighting for the American Dream."

Mr. Tabback said he reached out to Mr. Wurzelbacher two days after the third and final presidential debate, and "was very frank with him" about his book proposition. "I said, 'Others will be in a position to offer you a very large advance, [but] we're a small publisher, we don't have the capability of doing that.'" Still, Mr. Wurzelbacher accepted the offer, which did not provide an advance but a profit-sharing arrangement based on the number of books sold.

Mr. Tabback declined to discuss details about the financial contract, but said that early demand for Mr. Wurzelbacher's book from SecureOurDream.com warrant a first print-run of 10,000.

"Fighting for the American Dream" is part biography and part current events, Mr. Tabback said, adding that it gives a behind-the scenes account of Mr. Wurzelbacher's encounter with Mr. Obama and what happened in the weeks that followed. It will also dip into Mr. Wurzelbacher's personal history and his take on American values.

Mr. Tabback said that the site is Mr. Wurzelbacher's new platform to give voice to those that may not have one. "[It] will help galvanize an effort for regular folks in the country to be heard on Capitol Hill and local and state governments," he said.

Joining Joe, for a fee
But that will come at a cost. For $19.95, Mr. Wurzelbacher fans can become "Freedom Members" with posting rights on his blog and forum. With membership they also get a monthly newsletter from Mr. Wurzelbacher and 10% off "Shop Joe" merchandise. For that price, they also become "an integral part of an American movement to preserve our American Dream," the site claims, but what that means remains unclear.

Mr. Wurzelbacher's book will be the second title for PearlGate. Its first, the novel "Things Forgotten," was written by Mr. Tabback and released earlier this year. "It would be naïve to say that this hasn't put us on the map," Mr. Tabback said.

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