Tim Miller is an extreme horror author who is doing incredibly well for himself. He has self published a total of 18 books, has an active Amazon store, and his latest books Hacked and Lady Cannibal have both been at #2 on hot new releases in Horror and Crime/Kidnapping. Him and I connected several months ago on social media and became fast friends (sharing a love of everything horror), and I was lucky enough to get selected to appear on the cover of Hacked (my husband, Tom O’Brien, did the photography)! As a writer, he’s super prolific (he publishes a new novel every 4-6 weeks and tries to put out short stories in between)! Below, he answers my questions.
Did you always want to write horror?
When I was real young I wrote mostly adventure type stuff. But since I was in Junior High I always wanted to write horror or things horror related.
Any other genres that interest you?
Sometimes I like to read crime fiction or true crime. Occasionally something off the wall like sci fi if I’m feeling really crazy.
You are considered an extreme horror author. What’s the difference between extreme and regular horror?
In extreme horror the violence and gore threshold is cranked up on full blast. In extreme we really don’t hold back. There is violent, bloody deaths, rape, cannibalism pretty much anything goes. It’s a real eye opener to the casual fan who stumbles upon one of my books.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I’m not sure to be honest. I read a lot and watch lots of horror movies, and ideas just sort of hit me. I try to keep the ideas and stories fresh. I know it is hard to be completely original or fresh, but I try to keep things as creative as possible. I could write a basic slasher story with college kids getting picked off one at a time with lots of gore. But I’ve read hundreds of books like that and seen even more movies like that, so I try to make it something completely new or at least take a subgenre and flip it on its head.
What have you learned along the way?
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is I can always get better. I’ll have a book out that is doing well and begin to worry that I’ve peaked or how will I top this? So far I’m always able to keep improving upon my work so I feel that my best work is still ahead.
What do you attribute to your success as an independent author?
I really don’t know. I’ve done many things on social media and lots of horror blogs have been good to me and helping me get my work out there. One day things all just started to click, but this was after years of work. So I’m not sure if all previous efforts finally came together, or if just the right set of circumstances came up with some of my books showing up in the right place at the right time. Whatever it is, I’ll take it!
What do you think of paid review sites (like Kirkus review)?
I really don’t care for sites like that. They are way overpriced and I’m not sure how much good they do. Most readers will see something like that and figure it’s from professional reviewers and ignore it. I know I usually do. I feel that customer reviews are much better for authors than wasting your money on something like those other sites.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself not to wait so long to really make a run for a writing career.
What would you do differently if you could start all over?
It’s tough to say. I’m 41 now and just seeing success in the past year or so finally. I had been writing in my 20’s and sometimes fear I wasted too much of my life before really making a push for this. But back then, ebooks didn’t exist and Amazon was still fairly new. Self publishing was very costly to get started and even harder to get your books to people. Around my mid to late 20’s into my late 30s I had almost 10 year break where I just focused on work, school and family. I wonder where I might be now had I not taken that break from writing.
What kinds of assumptions do people make about you?
Lots. One is that I’m rich or have much more influence than I do. Some folks will send me their scripts to read or their manuscripts to show my agent. Problem is, I don’t have an agent and I don’t make movies, so not much I can do with anyone’s script.
The other thing is because of the type of stuff I write, people assume that I’m really into those sorts of things, or that I maybe a murdering sociopath. I’m actually pretty silly as a person and I have four dogs who like to pile onto me when I’m trying to write.
How many hours do you write per day? How do you find the balance?
I write full time, and a lot of my writing happens late at night, or sometimes first thing in the morning. So it just depends. I set daily word goals and some days I can pound out that goal in an hour or so. Others it may take me five or six hours.
I also allow myself some breaks. Like this past week, I’ve had lots of errands to run around town. Things to do around the house or events with the kids. So its nice my job allows me to just put stuff aside for a couple days to do those things.
How long did it take for you to see some sales?
I saw meager sales when my first book was published. Meager being like 3-5 ebooks a month, sometimes more. It had been maybe 3 years or so before they became substantial, like into the hundreds. By then I had four or five titles out.
Out of all of the books you have written, do you have any favorites?
They all have some different meaning for me. Road to Darkness is probably my most personal. I relate more to that character than others I have written.
Blood Slayer is my young adult story I wrote for my daughter, so that one is special to me as well.
Family Night was my first extreme story and my first book that ever began to actually sell halfway decent, so another special one.
Where do you find your readers?
Mostly online. I’m active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so I’m always connecting with new readers there. Plus Amazon helps a lot with promoting when you start getting some sales. They recommend my books to others who have bought similar titles.
Thanks so much for speaking with us, Tim! I have read some of his books and I can attest to how descriptive, original, and downright gruesome (unlike anything I’ve ever read or seen) they are. I made the mistake of reading Dead to Writes before bed once, and I did not sleep well! As Tim mentioned, he’s very easy to connect with on social media. Feel free to give him a like on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TimMillerHorror), or a follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/TimMiller2011)! His website is http://timmiller.org/.