John Selby Bio

John Selby is a fiction and non-fiction author with over 30 published positive psychology-meditation books plus eleven feature screenplays and half a dozen novels. He has been a cognitive therapist and spiritual counselor, and conducted NIH brain-research examining the inner mechanics of creativity and mindfulness meditation. 


John has taught creative writing and publishing strategies, and coached numerous authors in book-project development. He's also ghostwritten or content-edited over two dozen books for aspiring authors in a wide variety of genres including fiction, feature screenplays, and non-fiction books.


John was born in the valley of Ojai near Santa Barbara. The grandson of early west-coast settlers, he grew up on cattle ranches in California and Arizona, and attended the Ojai Valley School. He went east to Princeton in the mid-sixties, getting his BA degree in Psychology. He worked as a research hypnotist at the New Jersey Neuro-psychiatric Institute under the renown Dr. Humphry Osmond MD doing brain research for the National Institutes of Health. His recent memoir Blowing America's Mind documents in dramatic form that early professional experience.










Under the guidance of his mentor Alan Watts, John moved to San Francisco to continue his graduate studies in psychology at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. His new novel Shooting Angels dramatizes this period of his life. In the mid-70s John moved to LA to participate in the early director-intern program at the American Film Institute. Demonstrating a sharp knack for story-telling and screenplay-writing, he was taken aboard at the renown film agency of Reece Halsey – but unsatisfied with the Hollywood screen-writing scene, John finished his post-grad studies under Dr. Chuck Kelly PhD at the Radix Institute in Ojai, and worked as a Neo-Reichian therapist/consultant in San Luis Obispo. 


Continuing to write fiction, John made lengthy trips south of the border to Mexico and Guatemala studying primitive tribal customs and working on various fiction projects. Returning from a wild year in highland Guatemala in 1979, he wrote and sold his early mystic/action novel (Powerpoint - still available) to Warner Books. Forced by his NY editor to change the plot and theme into an occult thriller, he swore never again to write commercial genre novels – and shifted his focus to developing effective therapy techniques for transcending anxiety and depression. His meditation books have sold over 700,000 copies and helped fuel the mindfulness movement.


In the 80s John moved to West Berlin where a young generation of Germans were eager to explore his personal-transformation techniques. While in Switzerland in 1984, John met and married the Bavarian artist Birgitta Steiner. Together they envisioned and sold a 24-book 'self-therapy library' to a major European publisher (Knaur Verlag), and worked for 4 years creating both text and audio dimensions for those German-market programs. Over three dozen of John’s mindfulness/self-help titles have been published in 17 languages.










​During his research and therapy career, John often worked at the creative edge of the corporate world, counseling executives and developing mindfulness programs in the workplace. This focus led to the founding of the BrightMind Corporation in Hawaii in the nineties. That company morphed into WizeWell Inc in Silicon Valley before being sold. A number of John's therapy clients have been business leaders – and several of them became characters in his Jack Hadley psych-tech mystery series.


John now lives with his wife in Santa Cruz. During the last seven years he has envisioned, written and published five new suspense/mystery/thriller novels and related film properties, along with the Mindfully High text and app. He is now working on a new book exploring how cannabis can positively impact intimate relationships.


John is also mentoring new writers, helping them envision, write and publish their books. To date he has ghostwritten 14 books in fiction, psychology, self-help, business and memoir genres.




Over the years I've enjoyed coaching quite a number of aspiring authors with a great book inside them needing to get envisioned and completed. Now that I've written most of the books in my own bucket-list, I'm opening up more time to help younger writers discover how to envision, rough out, edit and publish their books.

Our entire civilization continues to depend on clear and insightful written communication. The process of taking a book from concept to publication requires talent, vision, determination, a bit of luck and hopefully some experienced mentoring. 

An author coach serves as a creative mentor, nurturing and guiding the author realistically toward the fastest route to publishing success. Because I’m a psychologist, quite often my author coaching is with fellow professionals – but I’ve also coached and ghostwritten autobiographies, business books, novels, inspirational books, screenplays and spiritual texts.


One of my most recent mentoring projects was with a highly-successful corporate consultant in Denver, whom I coached for six months from initial concept to published text, website, webinar, podcast, and in-person presentation. She kindly wrote these words of recommendation:

"About 9 months ago, I felt a strong calling that NOW was the time to write my book. My husband, a lifelong fan of John's books, discovered that John had become an author coach. I was delighted, as it had never occurred to me that I could be coached on the practicalities of how to write a book.  From day one, I was incredibly impressed with John's mastery around creating the beginning structure to write a book, starting with incredibly practical decisions like: what are the themes you want to cover , how many pages do you want, who is the target audience?  John is a master coach and it was a thrilling and immersive collaboration. 

Cheryl Benedict 

Author of The Wisdom of Transition: Navigating Change at Work 








I’m often asked to explain what an author coach actually does – why are they needed, and how do they work with clients? Here are a few notes on the author-mentor relationship:



Author Coaches must of course be very good with words – able to take written material and significantly improve it. Most top-notch author coaches have a publishing track-record plus valuable ties with literary agents. They are friendly, honest and supportive – and maintain the author’s unique voice and thematic integrity.



In earlier publishing eras, an author pounded out a rough draft, sent it off to a publisher – then a house editor worked over the manuscript. But these days, publishers and agents expect authors to have already polished their manuscript. An experienced author coach makes sure all phases of manuscript preparation are successfully completed.



An author coach will help you 1) develop your book concept, 2) help generate the original rough draft of the book, 3) participate in content editing, line editing and polish – and 4) send the manuscript to a reputable agent. Fees depend on overall time needed, experience of the coach, and needs of the author. I usually charge $100/hour of actual hands-on time.

Free Consultation:  If you’d like to have a phone discussion about your project, email me and we’ll set up a time to talk about how we can work together to manifest your book.



Ghostwriting Client Recommendations:

“John Selby has written numerous novels and psychology books which collectively have sold in excess of one million copies. As a long-time co-author, agent and friend of John, I can recommend him with complete enthusiasm and confidence. John is a talented writer for both fiction and non-fiction and also a wonderful mentor, researcher, editor, and sounding board.”

Bill Gladstone
President, Waterside Productions


“Investing in the help of John Selby to coach me and ghostwrite my Spiritual Psychology book was one of the best professional decisions I've made. I came in with only a general idea and John brought me to clarity, commitment, and action. We met twice weekly by phone. John then advanced this raw material into the final manuscript. I couldn't be happier with the outcome – John is kind, timely, responsible and a consummate professional, while also easy-going and friendly. 5 stars!”

Renee McKenna
Therapist, author of Demons & Allies


“John stepped in and completed the ghost-writing phase of my book Voice: How to Share your Message, Products and Business with the World. The results were wonderful - the book has earned a number #1 bestseller ranking on Amazon. John is articulate, diligent, an accomplished editor and writer, and prolific author. I enjoyed working with John personally and look forward to using him on future book projects. Please feel free to call me with any additional recommendations as needed: 505-660-6622.”

Kristen White


"Last year I felt the strong urge to write a personal account of my long-term struggles to recover from a terrible brain-damage accident. A friend recommended John Selby as ghostwriter and literary mentor - and we teamed up for 6 months of phone-based recording, rewriting and editing. The result is the book “My Path To Healing” which John also helped me publish. On all fronts John’s participation was experienced, professional, supportive, insightful, respectful, challenging - and ultimately satisfying and enlightening. Both thumbs up for John!”

Keith Kuegel

Author: My Path To Healing


"To my rewrite editor John Selby - thank you so much for your major ghostwriting contributions to making my book SHARP a success, and for your mentoring and guidance in helping me live more fully what I teach through this adventure."

Heidi Hanna

Corporate Consultant


"I am Swiss/French and luckily found John Selby in California to transform a very bad English translation of my inspiration-book into a truly wonderful expression. His expert knowledge of psychology and meditation enabled him to advance my writings into new realms. John is also now building me a special app. He has the ability to raise an author's writings into a higher level of expression, without altering the tone and message - we're lucky he's now sharing this gift and helping writers manifest their highest vision.

Nassrine Reza
Author: Accepting Who You Really Are


Review published John Selby ghostwriting/coaching projects:


     The Wisdom Of Transition  (corporate consulting, for Cheryl Benedict)

    Tapping The Source  (spiritual guidance, for Bill Gladstone)

    Voice  (business success, for Kristen White)

    My Path To Healing  (medical memoir, for Keith Kuegel)

    The Seventh Mindset  (novel, for Jeffrey Frick)

    Sharp: Managing Your Brainpower  (self-help, for Heidi Hanna)

    Power To Bloom  (inspirational, for Nassrine Raza)

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