Q&A with Mary Miller on the Business of Writing

Mary Miller

Mary Miller is a professor and fiction writer. She is the author of two short story collections, as well as a novel, The Last Days of California.

Katrina Byrd: What submissions advice would you give to an emerging writer?

Mary: Submit your work when you feel it’s ready! And do it earlier rather than later. So many emerging writers want to keep their work to themselves—they don’t want to expose themselves to criticism or even praise. I’ve known very good writers who have never felt ready, even after many years. You have to acclimate yourself to rejection early in order to cope with all of the “nos” that one is bound to receive, and this isn’t a bad thing.

Katrina: In your experience, what is one thing that is vital to managing a successful writing business?

Mary: Make friends with other writers, particularly those whose work you admire—send them fan letters, promote their work on social media. Buy multiple copies of books you love and give them to your friends. Build relationships with writers as well as editors.

“Networking” has a negative connotation, but we don’t work alone; we need others to edit our work, to publish it and promote it and discuss it. I suppose this isn’t “one thing,” but what I’m getting at is this: be a generous person. If you do harm in the writing world, like any world, it will come back to you. This community is much smaller than you might imagine when you’re just starting out. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Katrina Byrd

Katrina Byrd is a student in the Low Residency Creative Writing MFA Program at the Mississippi University for Women. Katrina is a writer and playwright who has received four Artist Minigrants from the Mississippi Arts Commission. Several of her short plays have been performed locally and several of her short stories have appeared in Inflight Literary Magazine, Black Magnolias Literary Magazine and Monkeycyle Literary Magazine.

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