In 1989 James Redfield resigned from his job as a counselor and therapist to disturbed adolescents in Alabama and devoted his life full time to writing. This was a very brave move but “The Celestine Prophecy” went onto to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide. The story of the publication of the book is certainly worth telling as it is one of the most inspiring publishing stories ever.
Having quit his job, James Redfield sat down to write his book. He was a not a natural writer and found the process sometimes difficult. He recounts in his later non-fiction publication “The Celestine Vision” which appeared in 1997 that his journey was possible through the remarkable power of synchronicity. Curiously he explores the power of seeming coincidence in one of the earlier chapters of the original book. He says that when he got stuck people would show up, or a book would drop into his lap that took him to the next step in his revelation of the nine insights that he reveals when he came to write ‘The Celestine Prophecy’.
The project hit a brick wall in 1991. He had finished writing after two years of hard work and then he turned to getting his book published. He says he received some offers from publishers but none of them seemed right to him. This disheartened him as he interpreted this seeming lack of acknowledgement as failure. He took some more time to use the insights that he writes about to help him in his own life. The plot, which reads like an adventure story is set in Peru and synthesises the author’s explorations into Psychology, Eastern and Western Philosophies, Science, Ecology, History and mysticism. When he looked at the insights as a stepping stone in his own life, he generated more insights, which he was able to include in the book.
Soon afterwards as ‘synchronicity’ would have it, he bumped into a publishing consultant form New York. He introduced Redfield to the concept of self-publishing. The first print run numbered 3,000 copies. The author and his wife Salle gave half of these away to select individuals and small booksellers in their surrounding area. Word of mouth did the rest, as the recipients of the books were keen to recommend “The Celestine Prophecy”, so thanks to this marketing, in six months they had one hundred thousand copies in print. The Redifield printing phenomenon was so successful that it came to the notice of Warner Books. They bought the rights and published a hard cover edition in March 1994. In 1995 it reached the number two position in the New York Times best seller list and then got to number one slot in 1996, where it remained for the best part of a year. Even Britain’s Prince Charles boasted of having a copy of the book beside his bed.
The account of the success of “The Celestine Prophecy” demonstrates that an author can write a novel or a non-fiction book, stick with it and have a success story beyond his or her wildest expectations. Here’s a question have you ever thought of writing a book?