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For many, horoscopes are viewed as balm for the disillusioned not willing to pony up for a therapist. For devoted followers, they are sage advice to guide careers, relationships and navigate personal tragedy. This is information people rely on, which they must have on the first of every month. According to Tali Edut, an astrologer and one-half of the AstroTwins, she publishes the horoscopes a few days before the first of the month as her readers also get upset if she's late.
“People who are into astrology like to ‘plan it by the planets,’” Edut says. “They want to know in advance what cosmic trends are ahead so that they can make the most out of opportunity periods and avoid potential roadblocks.”
Whether the advice is free or not, the members of ABSM claim they can no longer tolerate the way Miller runs her organization.
“What people fail to understand is that Susan Miller and Astrology Zone are a business,” emailed a spokesperson for the group. “People act as if Susan is giving her followers a ‘gift’ when in reality this is her job. She is able to charge good-sized advertising fees because of her large following and get people to pay for her App because her forecasts have historically been great.”
It’s that greatness that makes Astrology Zone's business work. Miller has developed intellectual property—the appearance of being able to calculate charts and positions of stars, and explain it all in a voice and artistry that even detractors admit is unique in the horoscope world. Readers stick around—even the ones currently claiming mutiny—for many reasons, but most important to the business: Miller is likeable. Her loquacious nature seeps into conversation, as it does her monthly forecasts. Even for those lukewarm to astrology, her charisma toward the topic behaves like a riptide, pulling one against common sense.
“What time of day were you born?” she asks several times during our interview. “Call your mother and ask her.”
While lateness is regrettable for any business, the same readers critiquing the tardiness were commenting on the Facebook page the day after the horoscopes posted. It’s safe to say many read their July forecast. The ABSM spokesperson claimed she would not read going forward, but admitted to perusing July anyway. Two other members of the group also emailed that they read July in spite of their secession.
“My traffic never goes down,” Miller says. She’s not gloating, just explaining how the business expands each month. “It keeps going up.”
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Though some mysterious entity with access to Miller’s Facebook page has made an effort to delete negative comments, one from July 8 persisted: “You can keep deleting these but we can keep posting … You made a big mistake taking your ‘dear’ public for granted for the millionth time! The ‘I'm sick and my dog ate my homework’ doesn't work for anyone anymore. Remember, in this cyber age, we can tell when you're out and looking fab, not home with a plasma drip.”
Another post: “I stopped following her on Twitter. I simply couldn't take the constant barrage of ‘poor me’ tweets about how hard she works despite being permanently on her deathbed.”
Miller’s head of customer support, Edward Rubinstein, confirmed that she’s been ill since April, as did Miller. She admits she reads much of the commentary on social media. While most are supporters, she says recent remarks by her detractors went too far.
“Some columnists don’t care when their readers say mean things about them on Twitter and Facebook, but I do care. I read what every reader has to say, and I think about the comments later. I don’t have a thick skin,” Miller says. “One reader said, ‘I don’t believe you’re sick. Until you #DropDead I won’t believe a word you say.’ I know they’re angry at me because they don’t have the information they need to plan the month ahead.”
It’s better than reality television, this astrology culture, a sitcom in the making. On any day one group is seceding from the Zone. Another claims Susan is faking illness to allot for late forecasts. Another that Susan is immortal. Another discreetly censoring the insurgents. Another spinning conspiracy theories not worthy of print. And everyone is spending far too much time discussing horoscopes during the workday.