Jeffrey Aaron Miller
Jeffrey Aaron Miller is a 1997 graduate of the Creative Writing program at the University of Arkansas.
He has held a wide variety of jobs over the years, from social worker to bus driver, from postal carrier to pastor, but through it all, he has remained a storyteller.
He is the author of numerous novels, both print and e-books, in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and YA. He resides in Northwest Arkansas with his wife and children.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
For some reason, I write best really late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. When I reach that state where I’m half-asleep, the words just seem to flow like crazy. Maybe sleep deprivation is helping me tap into my sub-conscious or something, but my typical writing time is from eleven to about two in the morning. Once I’ve hammered out a thousand words or two, I sleep like a baby.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I have not yet suffered from writer’s block. On the contrary, my mind is overfilled with ideas that I can’t get to. Some of them fall by the wayside before I ever get around to writing them. Maybe eventually my writing output will catch up with my internal idea generator, but it hasn’t happened yet.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t assume that getting a novel published is going to suddenly open up a new career for you. Chances are you’ll never make much money at it, so don’t quit your day job. Find a way to be content even if writing never becomes more than just an important hobby that occasionally tosses a few coins your way. The benefit is that people are reading and enjoying your stories, which is certainly better than having stories piled up in boxes in a closet somewhere.
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently working on a post-apocalytic novel called Fading Man. It takes place in the same world as another novel of mine, Shadows of Tockland. You don’t need to have read one to enjoy the other. This novel is brooding, occasionally dark, with relentless mounting tension, but it also has a rather devastating emotional story at its core. Plus, it contains some truly bizarre characters. My favorite is Pradeep. I can’t wait for readers to meet him. He’s such an earnest and well-meaning individual.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I am drawn to the fantastical, so I write science fiction and fantasy exclusively. The closest I get to reality is urban fantasy. The thing I like about these genres is that it allows me to create magical or futuristic settings that are mirrors of the themes or tone of the story. Magic or strange technology can work both as devices within a story as well as metaphors to communicate theme.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
Independent publishing and self-publishing suffer from market saturation and a lack of quality control. It is all too easy for a good book to just disappear beneath the mountain of e-books being churned out every single day. I would like to say that the industry will be self-correcting to some degree, but I’m not sure that’s the case. The internet affords a tremendous amount of freedom for people to get their work out there. Overall, I think it’s a good thing, but I wrote some novels when I was in my twenties that never got published, and I am so incredibly glad they didn’t. They are now rotting in a desk drawer, where they belong. I suppose, in the end, particularly when it comes to self-publishing, authors will have to be self-correcting in terms of what we put out there (and don’t put out there).
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I have published through independent publishing houses, and I have also put out a few self-published e-books. I prefer the traditional publishing houses, only because they provide me some degree of editorial oversight that I appreciate (and probably need).
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
I made quite a few significant changes to my first published novel, Mary of the Aether. The names of almost every major character, as well as the title, all changed during the revision process. The protagonist started out as Mindy Lang then became Mindy Lanham then wound up at Mary Lanham. I just decided the name Mindy didn’t carry the same amount of gravitas as the name Mary. Aaron became Aiden. Lucy became Kristen. The title of the book started at Mindy Lightbearer but wound up as Mary of the Aether.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I have been able to travel and do some writing workshops in public schools around my state as a result of some regional attention that my first novel got. I enjoyed it immensely, though a full day at a school, giving the same speech six or seven times in a row is mentally exhausting and strains the vocal chord. I’m not sure how school teachers do it.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any real secret to share in terms of publicity. I’ve tried many things, and the one thing that really worked best was sort of a fluke. I send a copy of my first novel to a university professor who teaches a regional workshop for English teachers. He just happened to pick up the book and read it, even though he has piles of books lying around his office, and he decided he liked the book enough to put it on the recommended reading list for his conference. I guess what I learned from this is try all sorts of things. You never know what will work.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I get inspiration at strange times, usually while quietly daydreaming. Unfortunately, one common place for this to happen is while driving on a long trip. On a few occasions, I have actually recorded a memo to remind myself of the idea. Other times, I work through the idea until I stop somewhere then I make a note of it. Drive time is also a good time to work out upcoming scenes.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
I have been told by a few readers that the cover art for my first novel, Mary of the Aether, is what drew them to it. It’s a striking image of a pair of hands holding what appeared to be light. It was created by a cover artist named Gemini Judson. There are so many books; I think the cover art has to grab people right away, as does the opening paragraph.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Reviews have a huge impact, particularly on websites like Amazon and Goodreads. I think readers trust the overall impression of a book given by other readers.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Writing the first draft is the most fun. When you are just getting that idea out of your head, that idea that has taken root and crowded your thoughts for so long. It’s great fun to finally write scenes that have lived in your imagination for a while.