In the 1960s Duane Crowther published (through Bookcraft) his expanded BYU master’s thesis as Prophecy—Key to the Future. The work included fairly specific designations of time periods and sequential events that he believed were associated with the future and the second coming; even a chart on the end-sheets laying it out. This book sold phenomenally well, instantly placing Crowther at the pinnacle of the world of LDS doctrinal writing. His second book on the prophecies of Joseph Smith also enjoyed considerable success. This sales windfall allowed him to establish his own publishing concern, Horizon Publishers & Distributors, a modestly successful company (eventually combined with CFI and then dissolved) located in Bountiful, Utah. At one point he was enabled to say, with Cleon Skousen, that they were the only two authors in Mormonism able to make a living solely on the strength of their literary works.
Because the books sold so well they began to have a substantial influence on the doctrinal thinking of Church members—who asked for and received counsel from Church leaders on how to view such writings.
One caution on the subject of prophecy came in general conference from President Harold B. Lee, some ten years after Prophecy—Key to the Future came from the press:
“One more matter: There are among us many loose writings predicting the calamities which are about to overtake us. Some of these have been publicized as though they were necessary to wake up the world to the horrors about to overtake us. Many of these are from sources upon which there cannot be unquestioned reliance.
“Are you priesthood bearers aware of the fact that we need no such publications to be forewarned, if we were only conversant with what the scriptures have already spoken to us in plainness?