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by Jon Land

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: how I can I know a particular writer’s conference is for you, when I don’t actually know you? Point taken and, as the former Vice President of Marketing, and current Chair of the Marketing Committee, for International Thriller Writers, the sponsor of Thrillerfest, I’m not exactly objective.  But let me lay out the reasons why Thrillerfest is for you, no matter the stage and state of your writing career.

It starts with the fact that Thrillerfest is both a craft conference and wonderful fan experience.  And, since pricing is “a la carte,” there are plenty of attendees who don’t stay for all four days, instead opting for the portion that most interests them.  Let’s take a look at the primary components of the conference to see if we can find the right fit for you.


CRAFTFEST:  The first day and a half of the conference, Wednesday and Thursday, focuses on big name authors serving as teachers to help you hone your craft with classes on such topics as dialogue, structure, plotting, character development, setting, conflict, as well as more promotionally oriented topics.  The participants vary every year but you can expect to see the likes of Heather Graham, Walter Mosely, David Morrell, Gayle Lynds, Steve Berry, R. L. Stine, John Sandford, and many more, there to help you learn to master the tools that have made them bestselling authors.  (To see last year’s Craftfest grid, go to


CAREERFEST:  A two hour track that runs late Thursday morning and changes the focus from craft to how to find the best publishing home for your work and what do after you get there.  Careerfest caters to authors interested in going the independent as well as the traditional publishing route, and features panels by top names from both the agent and publisher/editor world.  Like its big brother Craftfest, it’s very hands-on with the focus being to introduce in detail what it takes to succeed in such a challenging profession, covering the pratfalls and obstacles you’re likely to face along the way.


PITCHFEST:  Thursday afternoon features upwards of 50 agents who will listen to your pitches and want to hear what your book is about.  They’re looking for new clients, just like you’re looking for an agent.  It’s kind of like literary speed-dating, providing you with around 5 minutes to make your case to each agent you’re able to see.  With lines and some waiting factored in, writers are able to present, on average, to around a dozen agents.  And, in case the whole process unnerves you, Thrillerfest offers a Practice Pitchfest immediately prior to the main event, where several dozen authors are available to help you hone your presentations.


THRILLERFEST:  From the Thursday night opening cocktail party, right through Saturday evening’s annual Awards Banquet, Thrillerfest itself is two days chock full of authors. both big and not yet big, discussing topics relevant to fans, readers, and writers alike who’ve come to look a this as kind of a literary summer camp.  You can check out last year’s fun and informative panels, which are more or less typical, again by visiting And, on that topic, you’ll find even the biggest names at Thrillerfest to be very accessible, spending much of their time mixing and mingling.  And there are also ample opportunities to get them to sign their books for you at a number of signings that take place both morning and afternoon on both days.


Okay, I know what you’re thinking now:  when, where and how much?  The dates for Thrillerfest 2017 are July 12-15, Wednesday through Saturday.  The conference is held annually at the Grand Hyatt New York, conveniently located right next to Grand Central Terminal, a stone’s throw from the headquarters for all the major publishers.  As for cost, well, it’s not cheap but it’s reasonable.  And you can save by signing up earlier, rather than later.  It’s tough to be more specific about pricing, because there are so many options you can pick and choose from, including a single day rate, if that’s all the time you have.  


Hey, where else you can meet, schmooze with, and learn from your idols, while having an absolute blast to boot?  Thrillerfest is a great experience, not just for all the tangible reasons listed above, but also for the intangible ones like the friends and contacts you’ll make.  I speak from experience here, given that I knew absolutely no one when I attended the first Thrillerfest in 2006.  Today, a number of authors I met then are among my closest friends in the world. We’re a true community, and I hope you can attend Thrillerfest ’17 so you can join it.


Jon Land