--or just an annual party that the millionaires who started the thing want the rest of us to subsidize?

Personally, I find the cost of the thing prohibitive...you can fly to and travel through Europe for a week for about the same amount it would cost the average person to attend the Thrillerfest weekend.

It would also seem to me that working professionals in the field should receive some sort of discounted courtesy memberships.

If I could actually hear of tangible, demonstrable benefits for outlaying all that cash to attend Thrillerfest, I might reassess my opinion...like landing a major book deal, that sort of thing.

Mark Ellis


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That's another reason I suspect the organizers are a little out of touch and not just with the pricing.

Just as there are plenty of editors and agents in the NYC area, there are a number of professional thriller writers in the Northeast, some of whom have been at it longer and have more published credentials than many of the ITW luminaries.

I doubt it would bite too severely into Thrillerfest's profit margin if they offered reduced rate one or two day memberships to fellow professionals, even if they're not as well known as Clive Cussler. It would help everybody in the long run.

The fact that they don't might be another reason contributing to a (perhaps mistaken, perhaps not) impression of a caste system type snobbery at work.
They did offer a couple scholarships last year, in fairness to them.

But the ITW is sitting on piles of money in the bank. I'll leave it there - infer what commentary you will from that.

Barbara is right - it's mainly a chance to hang out with people. If you're looking to get published (I'm saying this as the generic 'you' - not you specifically Mark) then attending conventions is helpful in terms of navigating the industry.

If you're looking to sell books, they aren't worth it.

I like connecting with readers because I've always enjoyed that, and truth is, I'm too new to this to think of myself as different from the readers. When I went to Harrogate I was 100% nobody... but nobody treated me that way. I went to the first one thinking it would be nice if I got to meet a few people. I went back the next year and was drinking Simon Kernick's beverages and went to Ian Rankin's house before the convention and such. If you want down to earth, hang out with great people, Harrogate is wonderful.

I've enjoyed the conventions I've been to immensely, but long term, I think only one a year is appropriate. My family comes first, along with my writing. Everything else follows.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I really think Harrogate is where I would feel most comfortable for my first convention. It's also usually cheaper to fly to the UK from Canada than it is to fly to New York. So I think I'll definitely aim for Harrogate 2009 - although LCC in Hawaii sounds like a nice treat, too ;-)
"But the ITW is sitting on piles of money in the bank. I'll leave it there - infer what commentary you will from that."

I can only infer that you confirm what I've been told several times over the last year and a half.

That's one reason I'm not too keen on shelling out my hard-earned money to attend a convention organized and circumscribed by millionaires...I think they need to give something back to their less financially blessed colleagues instead of concocting new ways to take their hard earned money.

Extending them a small professional courtesy of a comped one-day registration or reduced rate would make me feel differently about the whole deal.

So far my long-held suspicion that Thrillerfest is little more than an annual party an elite group of people throw for themselves but expect a larger group of people to subsidize hasn't been disproven.
Grant, you're being published in the UK. You should DEFINITELY aim for 2009. I think Laura Wilson is program coordinator for that year. If you could go this year I'd say go to Crimefest, because it will enable you to meet a number of reviewers and interviewers and get a sense of the UK market.

Mark... I'm not the best person to talk to where the ITW is concerned. And before I shell out money on anything, I expect to have a sense of what I'm getting for it. There are too many organizations overlapping, and in particular with a few of them, they seem to be more about heavily pushing the favoured few authors. Beyond joining MWA and SinC, I start to get leery about joining other groups (and I should note, I haven't joined either of them yet). Backspace might be an exception, but honestly, I'm not interested in joining things just to be in the clique.

The thing to listen to is the ground floor rumblings. That's why I still prefer talking to readers and not sticking my nose so far in the air I'm drinking rainwater.

I've said more than enough...
Ahh, Sandra, won't it be nice when we're rich enough and famous enough that we can just attend these conventions for fun — to meet our readers and other authors we admire without worrying about promotion and marketing. They really should be just a celebration of books and writers, but unless they are happening in our backyard, the expense means we have to justify it. I'd rather just buzz around the convention hall on my Segway, kilt flying in the wind, and the bumpersticker: "I Murder Convention."
"I'd rather just buzz around the convention hall on my Segway, kilt flying in the wind, and the bumpersticker: "I Murder Convention.""

Don't you just love this guy? I want to go to a convention with him! Where'd you say you're going to be next, Grant?
"if an author doesn't attend their genre's convention, they're too easily overlooked or forgotten."

Perhaps by other authors and die-hard fans. Most readers (aka book buyers) don't go to cons.

I just got back from Left Coast Crime in Denver and enjoyed it very much - largely because a number of friends were there. But there's no way the return on investment is there for any of these things. It's not just registration, it's travel and hotels. Oh, and bar tabs and book purchases.... it all adds up.

I don't go as an investment in promotion. I go to hang out with pals and have a good time.
Well said Barbara -

I go to conventions to meet friends, colleagues and writers I admire - to drink, buy and talk books and writing and discover new places -

In fact Ruth Jordan has a blog BOUCHERCON MEMORIES which proves this :-



Well, if I care to, I can get together with my colleagues fairly easily and dispense with exorbitant hotel room and registration fees.

Same as with writers I admire...admittedly there aren't too many of them left (even fewer since Stephen Marlowe passed away a couple of weeks ago), but the couple I do admire are friends and we see each other socially.

I guess I don't consider the high cost of an undertaking such as attending Thrillerfest completely on my dime worth the amphorous return. I'd attend only to advance my career.

I have far more urgent matters to spend my money on than overpriced meals, cab fare, hotel rooms and bar tabs.

I can get drunk with writers here.

Significantly I found this fairly recent "review" of last year's Thrillerfest right here on Crimespace's forums posted by member Paul Guyot:

"Thrillerfest is overpriced and overhyped. Wait until they climb down off their mountain and move the conference out of NY. And whether you can afford it or not, its just too expensive for what you get. ITW started out as a great idea and great organization, but after the success of TFest 1, they started patting themselves on the back so much, they turned into elitists. They have become exactly what they were against when the idea was hatched in Toronto. Sad."
I'm registered for my first Bouchercon (Baltimore) and my first Left Coast Crime (Hawaii--couldn't resist) but am already hyped for my second Malice Domestic, a fan-oriented con that the first time around struck me as a veritable lovefest between authors and readers. With my book a year from publication, I had plenty of opportunity to hand out bookmarks and give my pitch, and I've had a steady trickle of "I can't wait to read it!" all year in various online venues from readers who first heard of me and my book at Malice. And this year, with a mystery hot off the presses--I can't wait to get there!
Excellent, Elizabeth - congrats! I think conferences are great for networking and getting noticed for exactly these reasons. As Mark points out, his career is well-established, so he doesn't need them, but attending conferences can be a terrific boost for newer authors like you and me. If you hadn't gone, all those people wouldn't know about you or your upcoming novel. Conferences ARE expensive, so the dollar return most likely won't translate directly into an equal amount of sales, but the same goes for bookstore signings and other forms of promotion, and at least at conferences, a newer author can network with more experienced authors and learn.

Like some have mentioned above, I don't think of conferences or conventions as mainly promotional and/or sales opportunities. In my opinion, BSP at conferences is just as offensive as it is here. Mine (the Backspace conference) falls two months before my debut releases, and I'm not even giving myself a spot on the program. In the long term, I benefit more by establishing a good relationship with my fellow authors - promoting them, and giving them a chance to shine, rather than taking away opportunities from them for myself.

Expectations tend to be self-fulfilling, and I think if an author approaches conferences with a positive attitude, wanting to listen and learn and get to know their fellow authors, they can really benefit. On the other hand, if they expect the conference to be a waste of time and money, then they shouldn't attend because most likely, it will be. Sometimes, when people call inquiring about the Backspace conference and my partner (who handles the phones) can tell from their questions and comments that their expectations aren't going to match the event, he recommends they don't come. Conferences and conventions work for some, and not for others, and like a lot of things, you get out of them what you put into them.

Back to ThrillerFest - all I can say is I love the event, and wouldn't miss it!


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