“I have read that every time a reader clicks on her site looking for their horoscope, they contribute to the rising cost of advertising,” emailed Seva, who has been reading Astrology Zone for three years. “It takes only a few moments to post an authentic, genuine message to your fans, not some long, drawn-out excuse detailing her never-ending often exotic illnesses which she constantly beats her readers over the head with.”
Miller, for her part, denies the allegation that the lateness is some sort of strategy. "Absolutely not. If anything, that would hurt my business," she said to me.
Think of the Millaniacs and Susanistas as the Hatfields and McCoys of astrology culture. Their weapons are words, the battlefield social media, and fortunately no shots have been fired as yet. They just really want their horoscopes on time.
* * *
July 1 became July 2, still no postings. Late on July 3, readers began to understand that with the impending holiday weekend, it would be Monday at the earliest, July 7, before they knew what the month ahead held. The reports had been posted late in prior months—March 2, May 7, and June 4, according to Twitter—but this meant they would have to wait all weekend. That was when several readers took measures into their own hands. They banded together to start the Abandoned by Susan Miller (ABSM) Facebook page (now private), with the purpose of creating “a place where people who once relied on Susan Miller's work but are frustrated with her lack of professionalism can talk and find reliable astrology resources,” according to a group spokesperson.
For the true believers, the commentary battles have become impassioned. For the casual browser, leafing through the angry, often spiteful debate is pure digital schadenfreude. And for Miller, a tenacious writer who has parlayed her knowledge of the stars into a lucrative business, the backlash is an unavoidable result of an industry in which so many put their providence in the hands of one woman.
“My mission is to help my readers,” Miller told me. “There are things more important than money in the world, and the people suffering the most cannot afford to pay to enter a site, which is why I do not charge.”
Taken just from an output perspective (and a writer’s point of view), the demands of Miller’s business may make her one of the most prolific scribes alive. According to Miller, each of the free monthly forecasts averages 3,500 words, totalling some 42,000-48,000 thousand words across all signs, which she starts and finishes the last 10 days of each month. That equates to roughly 430,000 words per year. That’s only the free horoscopes; the word count does not reflect all the paid forecasts she provides for a slew of magazines.
To put that in perspective, 430,000 words is equivalent (in sheer volume) to writing Ulysses and Lolita in the same year; or spending the year penning Slaughterhouse-Five, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Middlemarch; or writing the first four Harry Potter books; or putting together nearly all of War and Peace. When it was suggested perhaps her late posts were a result of writer’s block, Miller quickly disagreed.