Suggest prosperity to yourself. See yourself in a prosperous condition. Affirm that you will before long be in a prosperous condition. Affirm it calmly and quietly, but strongly and confidently.... Expect it—keep it continually watered with expectation. You thus make yourself a magnet to attract the things that you desire."
That paragraph is not an excerpt from Rhonda Byrne's blockbuster The Secret. It's a snippet from Ralph Waldo Trine's In Tune with the Infinite: Or, Fullness of Peace, Power, and Plenty, which was published in 1897.
Books yoking spiritual concerns to the pursuit of prosperity are nothing new. As Joel Fotinos, v-p and publisher of Penguin/Tarcher, notes, "People are perennially interested in how they can be both spiritual and prosperous." But every few years a book comes along that recalibrates things for publishers interested in spirituality and prosperity. (Remember The Prayer of Jabez ?) Today's book, undeniably, is The Secret. What can we expect from the spiritual prosperity genre in the post-Secret era?
Cynthia Black, president and editor-in-chief of Beyond Words Publishing, who acquired the book, says that readers are inspired by The Secret in part because Byrne "presented things in an emotional way that touched people's hearts. But now people are looking for more concrete ways" to apply the secrets of The Secret, so Black is bringing out books with a more practical edge: Dating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Laws of Attraction in Matters of the Heart by Paulette Sherman (Feb. 2008) teaches romantic readers how to attract a different kind of person, and True Self True Wealth: A Pathway to Prosperity by Peter Hays Cole and Daisy Reese (Oct.) helps readers identify the financial messages they inherited from their family, and get their financial house in order. Jill Kramer, editorial director of Hay House—which publishes Esther and Jerry Hicks's popular books, including the forthcoming Money and the Law of Attraction (Mar. 2008)—says that people have flocked to The Secret in part because of its simplicity: "People want books that offer them something they can do very simply. This is something you can do in your own mind. You don't have to go anywhere or attend a seminar."
Many Christian publishers have long done a brisk trade in books that address abundance, although authors and editors today are quick to distinguish their titles from "the prosperity Gospel," which has taken on a pejorative connotation. "We seek to publish books that affirm the truths of Scripture, and Scripture has a lot to say about health, wealth and happiness," says Anne Goldsmith, editor at FaithWords, which next January will bring out Creflo Dollar's 8 Steps to Create the Life You Want: The Anatomy of a Successful Life. "We are not interested in publishing books that tickle people's ears with what they want to hear or that just affirm the latest fad," adds Goldsmith. "We're interested in books that open people's eyes to God's promises and to the truth about the world He's created."
Christian titles that address questions of abundance have also taken a practical turn. Sue Augustine's Turn Your Dreams into Realities: 101 Ways to Make It Happen (Harvest House, Jan. 2007) gives readers concrete steps for becoming the kind of person they want to be. "God wants you to dream, because he's given you a lot of potential," explains Harvest House editor Barb Gordon. "We need to not be afraid to break out of the narrow limits we sometimes get ourselves into." Charisma House developmental editor Jevon Bolden is excited about Commanding Your Morning: Unleashing the Power of God in Your Life (Oct.) by Cindy Trimm, which urges readers to take charge of the day by praying and making positive declarations. "If you have a dream, or you want to own a business, or you have something in your life you want to accomplish, Trimm shows how this fits into God's plan for our lives," says Bolden.
The Secret is shaping not just how publishers think about upcoming acquisitions but also the marketing of backlist titles. Georgia Hughes, editorial director at New World Library, says The Secret has attracted "a more mainstream audience to prosperity-themed books. It has brought some backlist titles to the front tables." Books like Shakti Gawain's Creating True Prosperity, considered a classic in the genre, have gotten more attention, and New World Library has changed its marketing in response to The Secret. "It's made us think about how we package these books for a wider audience," Hughes says. The Secret's slightly "ancient" and "esoteric"-looking cover may inspire some New World Library cover art, and back-cover copy on titles like Brenda Anderson's Playing the Quantum Field: How Changing Your Choices Can Change Your Life has been rewritten to play up "prosperity angles," says Hughes.
HCI is rereleasing three books, whose contributors have connections to The Secret : Chicken Soup for the Soul: Unlocking the Secrets to Living Your Dream by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen; and How to Change Your Life and Words That Heal Today, both by Ernest Holmes with forewords by Michael Beckwith. Tarcher's many books by Ernest Holmes have gotten a bump, and Fotinos of Penguin/Tarcher credits The Secret with some of the success of Tarcher's edition of Wallace D. Wattles's classic, The Science of Getting Rich, which has sold over 50,000 copies since coming out in March. New Tarcher titles, like Alan Cohen's Relax into Wealth (Jan. 2007) have also gotten a boost.
Fotinos—who notes that Tarcher will be publishing spiritual prosperity books long after The Secret craze is over—praises Byrne for putting "new language to a concept that has been around for a long time, and making it attractive to new readers. That helps all spiritual publishers right now, because books in the genre are being lifted up. People who read The Secret want to read more."