At age 12, most students still hold on to their dream of being a firefighter or a rock-star. For junior Kit Miller that was the age she began to make her dreams of being an author a reality by writing her first novel-length book.
Miller knew she wanted to be an author in fourth grade after reading “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen.
“Before ‘Hatchet’ I only read the ‘fairytale’ books — books with the perfect hero/heroine with the perfect answers to the perfect resolution,” she said. “‘Hatchet,’ however, is very real. Sure it has a happy ending, but the main character doesn’t get his happy ending without some risks and sacrifices. I wanted to write real books like that.”
Fast forward to 11th grade. It’s the first day of school. People share stories of their summer, how they went to the pool, how they traveled to different countries. Miller comes back as a published author.
Her novel, “Sailor Uncovered,” was inspired by crime television shows such as “NCIS” and “I Almost Got Away With It.” The novel tells the tale of Sailor, a survivor, and the murder of a man who victimizes women.
The process to becoming a published author is just as difficult as one would think. For Miller, it began with a journal of ideas.
“One day I decided to keep track of my ideas in a journal. I had one idea that I really, really liked so I kept expanding on it and expanding on it and eventually it turned into a book,” Miller said.
A year-and-a-half later, that idea blossomed into a 278-page novel and Miller began the next step of the process: finding a publisher.
“It was long and hard. I didn’t want to self-publish because the publishing industry still doesn’t regard self-published authors as true authors and I didn’t have the money to do it,” Miller said.
Miller originally sent her manuscript to literary agents to help her gain recognition by large publishers like Random House and HarperCollins. However, literary agents are extremely selective and tend to choose a client based off her established brand.
“Getting your foot in the door as a new writer is very, very difficult,” she said. “I quickly figured out that to be a successful author I couldn’t just be a writer. I had to become a walking and talking brand, a living and breathing business. I had to become a social media expert, a marketer, a salesperson, a businesswoman, a graphic designer and an economist.”
As a new author, Miller decided the best way to go was to send her manuscript to small publishing houses. She tried 39 different publishers before Mirador Publishing in the United Kingdom picked up her book.
“It was long and hard. Finally one of them said ‘yes’,” Miller said of her publishing experience.
The support coming from Miller’s teachers helped her during the process. Miller says her creative writing teacher Jeffrey Hoefs played a crucial part in getting her book published.
“But this book was all her doing, I just tried to serve as a coach and encourage her,” Hoefs said.
“A lot of adults scoffed when I told them I wanted to publish a book before I graduated high school, but my English teachers have always supported me.” Miller said. “I’m lucky to have such great people in my corner.”
After all the hard work, Miller finally achieved her dream of publishing a book at age 16.
“It was so unreal. I couldn’t believe it — I still can’t believe it,” Miller said. “Seeing my work in print, on my bookshelf, is beyond anything I could have imagined.”
Her future as an author is just beginning.
“She’s a fantastic writer but she also is good at all subjects so she can really choose her path on what she wants to do but I don’t think she will ever stop writing,” Hoefs said. “That’s ingrained in her, that’s part of who she is.”
Along with being a Mountain Vista Media and Periphas literary magazine editor, Miller can now add published author to her list.
“Hopefully, more books. Hopefully, some poetry,” Miller said. “And hopefully I can inspire other people to get their work going.”
For more stories like this, be sure to buy your 2016 Aerie yearbook.