I sold the first book to an indie publisher called Whiskey Creek Press in 2011 and it hit the market in July 2012. Getting that first big box of books was a great feeling, even if I was concerned about the low-quality paper that caused the paperbacks to crumble into oblivion after the very first reading. In the summer if 2013, Mary of the Aether was included on a recommended reading list for Arkansas teachers and received a bunch of free publicity at a regional common core workshop. This resulted in me doing a bunch of creative writing workshops and book readings at schools and libraries.
In the meantime, I churned my way through the entire series, writing three sequels and bringing the series to a dramatic conclusion with Mary of Cosmos. Just as the fourth book reached its publication date, Whiskey Creek Press announced that they were folding up shop and selling their catalog to a company called Start Media. Only select authors were offered contracts by Start, myself included. I made a whopping $200 on the deal. Fortunately, I invested that $200 in an exciting multilevel marketing opportunity and it paid for my fleet of tricked-out Honda Accords.
Just kidding. I did take the $200, as did many (but not all) authors from Whiskey Creek Press. Then the awful silence of God descended upon the earth. Start Media acquired the catalog of books, put out their own versions, and that was it. They didn't do much in the way of publicity. Oddly, they actually introduced some formatting problems to Mary of the Aether, which already had a few typos and formatting problems from Whiskey Creek Press.
Eventually, things got a little bit exciting. Simon & Schuster, the big-time publishing house, bought Start Publishing, which meant my Mary of the Aether series was available on the Simon & Schuster website (ebook only). This should have been a big deal, but sales were as close to negligible as possible without being nil. Also, there was this weird thing that happened where the first three books of my series were listed on one webpage (out of order) while the fourth book was listed on a different webpage. Despite numerous emails, I was never able to get anyone at Simon & Schuster to fix this problem.
This year, I finally reacquired the rights to the whole darn series and decided to self-publish. This gave me a chance to go back through the manuscripts and tidy things up a bit. I corrected the typos and formatting problems introduced back in the day. I streamlined some clunky prose in a few places, added a few small scenes that I felt were lacking, and turned those outdated flip phones into modern smartphones.
Ironically, self-publishing is probably the best thing that has ever happened to the series. Sales for the new and improved self-published version of Mary of Aether are better than they have been in years. The first volume, in particular, is on its way to becoming my second most consistent seller, after Children of the Mechanism.
Things are looking up for good ol' Mary Lanham and her buddies the Devourers.
After finishing her work on Mary of Cosmos, my first editor raved about the series. In one of her final emails to me, she wrote the following:
I have to tell you, I have LOVED working on this series. It is one of my absolute favorites! I could definitely see this series doing well if it just catches on like it should!
Other than the initial interest back in the summer of 2013, maybe it finally has a real chance. People are reading it. If you haven't given the series a chance, let me entice you to do so now with the following review comments for the series:
"Jeffery Aaron Miller once again uses his unique knack for writing about other worlds to draw you in and to have you totally engaged in the story. Jeffery is a wonderful writer who can take you to a fantasy world yet still keep you in touch with the real world and its own conflicts. Mr. Miller just has the knack or ability to create these other worlds that are mixed with our own world, and yet the issues of growing up in this world, poverty, and unpopularity, are intertwined with the lofty goals of the other world. There is so much in his storytelling to admire and to recognize for the youth of today. I find his writing and storytelling abilities to be fascinating."
"I found this book to be absolutely brilliant! After the first couple of pages it really picked up, and I could hardly put the book down as I felt like I, myself, was in the book alongside Mary!"
"The story was fresh, the plot nicely paced, and the characters unforgettable!"
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, now's your chance to check out the series. Will it be among the best experiences you've ever had in your entire life? I can't say for sure, but why don't we find out? Here is everything you've been waiting for.