About DJ Miller

How Did I Get Here?

I have been writing since I was a child. In fact, I think I remember typing out a poem on an old-fashioned manual typewriter at the age of four, but I admit it could have been as late as eight.  Most of the poems and short stories that I have written up to the age of “now” are safely stored in the cedar hope chest that my brother and his friends in the FFA class at Delaplaine, Arkansas made for my 16th birthday. I have always had an affinity for books. Throughout high school, I worked as a student aide in the high school library.

When I was a student at Arkansas State University, a professor urged me to submit some short stories to various journals, which resulted in prompt rejection letters.  Undaunted, I completed my Bachelor of English Literature in 1992, then took some time off to be a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) in Jacksonville, Florida.  My student job in college was also working in a library.  I was an “assistant to the assistant to the dean” at the Dean B. Ellis Library at ASU.

Next came a few years in Keflavik, Iceland, where I spent a lot of time reading and did some volunteer work for the American Red Cross as their library liaison. When I moved back to the states I decided to go to school to get my library degree.  I got my Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina, and worked for several years as a high school librarian in Colleton County, South Carolina.  I then spent a few years in Spain, but in 2004 returned to South Carolina to stay.  For the next six years I worked again as an elementary and high school librarian in Colleton County, and then transferred to a high school library position in Dorchester County for four years. I have written grants, held book fairs and hosted poetry slams. I have set on committees, mentored students and attended more training than I can remember. I have taught classes, organized book clubs, and purchased and processed many, many books.

During the twelve years that I spent as a librarian, I did ghost writing for magazines and advertisements on the side because I could not stop writing. The part that I loved most about being a school librarian was being able to help students find books that they enjoyed reading. I finally came to the realization that I wanted to make the books instead of just handing them out. I needed more time to write and the opportunity presented itself beginning in the summer of 2014.

Armed with inspiration, I wrote my first book, One More Stuffed Animal!, at the end of the school year while monitoring exams in a very quiet classroom.  Bubbling with excitement, I sent the manuscript off to four literary agents the very next day.  In doing so, I learned a lot in a very short time, such as: some literary agents are very touchy about what you say to them, and it makes them mad when you say you wrote a book in one day (lesson learned).  Some agents are very honest and they tell you to give up sending out books if you haven’t networked or published anything yet, unless you enjoy playing the lottery.  Some agents just don’t respond at all.

So I decided to look for other options to get my book in front of people, and found out that using a vanity press (where you pay someone to format your book, illustrate it, and print copies that you can sell or give away) is way too expensive.  On the other hand, there are a variety of small and independent presses that will either serve as vanity presses (if you can afford it) or simply be your printing press (if you want to do all the work yourself).  Writers taking the second option can market their own books which are then printed on demand.

I realized that if I was willing to do the work, I could publish a book at virtually no cost!  Lots of “Indie Authors” have both become very famous and made a lot of money.  Of course, after they write and sell lots of books, Indie Authors are much more likely to get picked up by a traditional publishing company, and I understood my chances of winning that lottery would improve also. Now I am at the beginning of a new era in my life. In the summer of 2014, I decided that I wanted to pursue my dream of a writing career and that is exactly what I am doing!

Check out the books that I have published and my current literary projects on my website at djmillerbooks.com.  Thanks for listening!  🙂

DJ Miller’s Books

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