When author and therapist James Redfield self-published his first novel in 1993, the immediate groundswell of enthusiasm from booksellers and readers made The Celestine Prophecy one of the most successful self-published books of all time.
Using an adventure parable approach that has been called “part Indiana Jones, part Scott Peck,” The Celestine Prophecy created a fictional model for spiritual perception and actualization that resonated with millions of people and focused on the mysterious coincidences that occur in each of our lives. Disdaining the spotlight himself, Redfield proclaimed in The Celestine Prophecy that each of us must intuit our own spiritual destiny.
As Redfield writes in The Celestine Vision, his non-fiction title published in 1997, “The actual writing of The Celestine Prophecy occurred from January 1989 through April 1991 and was characterized by a sort of trial-and-error process. Quite amazingly, as I remembered earlier experiences and wrote about them, lacing them into an adventure tale, striking coincidences would occur to emphasize the particular points I wanted to make. Books would show up mysteriously, or I would have timely encounters with the exact sort of individuals I was attempting to describe. Sometimes strangers would open up to me for no apparent reason and tell me about their spiritual experiences.”
Feeling “kind of stuck” at one point, Redfield went to the high-energy vortexes of Sedona, Arizona-an area that he and many others regard as a sacred place. As he recounts in an interview in Body, Mind, Spirit magazine: “I was sitting on a ridge near the Chapel Vortex and trying to work with the notes for the book. It was not coming easily. All of a sudden, a crow flew out of the canyon and right over my head and then flew back into the canyon. I continued to make notes. I was having some trouble getting the story to flow out. The crow came out of the canyon again and flew over me, then back into the canyon, so I went into the canyon, and when I sat down the book just came pouring out.”
The flow halted, however, when Redfield began sending The Celestine Prophecy to publishers in 1992. He did receive a few offers, but they did not seem right. “The companies all wanted to take between a year and 18 months to get the book out. I felt the book was timely and that we should get it out right away. All the coincidences stopped, and I felt dead in the water. I was interpreting the complete lack of publishing opportunity as a failure, a negative event, and that was the interpretation that had stopped the coincidences that I felt had been leading me forward. When I realized what was happening, I snapped to attention and made more revisions to the book, emphasizing this point.”
Within days, Redfield heard about a publishing consultant from New York who had just moved into the area. Driven by intuition to seek him out, the two met, and the coincidences began again. Redfield quickly decided to self-publish the book. Just as he went to print, he met Salle Merrill, who brought with her a timely emphasis on the importance of giving. Now, husband and wife, James and Salle filled the trunk of their car with copies of The Celestine Prophecy and drove to bookstores, meeting readers and talking about the book. “Of the first 3,000 copies we printed, we mailed or personally gave away 1,500 to small bookshops and individuals in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.” James recalls in The Celestine Vision, “Word-of-mouth recommendations took care of everything else.” In six months, the book had over 100,000 copies in print, was in all 50 states, and was appearing in countries around the world. “It sold not because of any publicity I did, but because others began to give it to their friends everywhere.”
After the self-published book was brought to the attention of Warner Books through a perceptive sales rep, Warner bought the rights and published the hardcover edition in March 1994, propelling the book to became one of modern publishing’s greatest success stories. According to Publishing Trends, in 1995 and 1996 The Celestine Prophecy was the #1 American book in the world and the #1 international bestseller of 1996 (#2 in 1995). This phenomenal novel spent over 3 years on the New York Times best sellers list. In 1996, an eagerly awaited sequel, The Tenth Insight: Holding The Vision, also became an instant bestseller. The two books spent a combined 74 weeks on the New York Times list.
James joined co-author Carol Adrienne to write Experiential Guides for The Celestine Prophecy and The Tenth Insight. These companion books help readers expand knowledge from the Insights, as they offer explanations and exercises for further revelations, fostering personal growth by putting readers in touch with evidence from their own experience.
The Celestine series continued in 1999 with the publication of The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight (Warner Books). Set in modern day Tibet, Redfield continued the inspiring journey of The Celestine Prophecy and The Tenth Insight — carrying readers to a new adventure in a sacred place where truths that can affect all of humanity await. In 2002, James joined author Michael Murphy and filmmaker Sylvia Timbers in a collaborative work entitled God and the Evolving Universe (J.P. Tarcher).
The Celestine Prophecy Movie was released in 2006. James Redfield co-wrote and produced the film, which starred Matthew Settle, Thomas Kretschmann, Sarah Wayne Callies, Annabeth Gish and Hector Elizondo.
Redfield’s fourth and final book in the Celestine series, The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision, was published by Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner books) in February 2011.