How did you get published? Interview with SF author, m a miller

I’d like to introduce m a miller, whose first novel is coming out at the end of April. Mis’ka – The Rite of Ascension is a YA science fiction novel, part one of a trilogy. miller’s publisher is Alto Books.

Can you tell me how you came to be published?

I wrote a review for an illustrated children’s book and the publisher really liked my style of writing – he wanted to know if I had written a book. Naturally I said “yes!” (although it was really only the first 50 or so pages) and forwarded them to him. He passed it on to a couple of readers who liked it enough for him to ask me to complete the manuscript and we’d take it from there.

Cover for Mis'ka

Cover for Mis'ka - The Rite of Ascension

Tell me about the process of completing the book.

The story idea had been in my head for years and years – but life tended to get in the way, as it does and I had a totally different career from writing. So over the years I’d had a few attempts at the story and had gotten, as I said, just over 50 pages written.  When David Conners (my publisher at Alto Books) said he’d go ahead with the book I decided to take a leap of faith and quit my job to finish it.  So, all in all it took a further three months of solid writing and long days to get the first draft done.

What did your publisher expect from you in terms of rewrites?

As it happens, not a lot.  Initially, the feed back from the readers was that the first 50 pages were a lot of exposition – and I agreed, so I got rid of them and started from further into the story. Actually, the first chapter became the last chapter (rewritten of course but it still takes place in the same location and with the same characters).  The editor suggested removing a couple of chapters – again I agreed, the chapters didn’t move the story forward and weren’t necessary. However, they were a rollicking good bit of action so I’m saving them for later! All I ended up doing for rewrites was make a few changes to characters’ names and tweaked a few chapters for continuity.

Why did you decide to do a trilogy?

I’m a great SF fan and have always loved stories that continue – the ones that are complete on their own but that take the characters further.  I decided on a trilogy because my three main characters all have a story to tell. The first book is told from Warrior Mis’ka’s point of view. The next two will each be from one of the other two characters’ point of view and will move the story onwards until it resolves.

Have you done a book proposal for your trilogy? If so, did it help you?

A very short one pager to get the idea across to my publisher – although I never gave it to him, just pitched it over a cup of coffee! It was a great starting point but that’s all.

Do you have an agent?

No agent – mainly because it never occurred to me to have one.

How did you go about negotiating your contract with the publisher?

I have a standard contract.

What aspects of publicity and promotion will your publisher handle? What do you plan to do?

To be honest, I’m terrified at the thought of publicity!  I am more a stay-in-the-corner person rather than a stand out the front and talk kinda gal. Having said that, I do get that publicity is important. My publisher has promoted my book extensively through his website and I know that the distributor is also promoting it.  As to me, well… I’m open to suggestions!

Coming tomorrow – m a miller talks about the benefits of joining large writers’ organisations and what it’s like working as a full-time writer.