--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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Well, even those of us who have well-established careers could use a little boost.

It would be nice if a professional organization made an attempt to do that with fellow professionals. Support works both ways. I know several writers who didn't renew their ITW memberships because they felt they got zero return.

I asked ITW about the possibility of comped Thrillerfest registration or reduced registration for fellow professionals.

Goin' on two years later, I'm still waiting for a response.

The cost of Thrillerfest is ridiculous and with discretionary income shrinking, I can see it pricing itself right out existence.
The people I know who are benefiting most from their ITW membership are those who are involved - they volunteer to help out on committees, or at the convention, or actively look for other ways to advance the organization's and members' interests. Every other month or so, I get a notice in my inbox about some cool new opportunity someone's dreamed up. I can't necessarily take advantage of them, but it's nice to know they're there, and that maybe the next one will be a good fit.

The organization isn't exclusive in the sense that only best-sellers get the "plum" jobs (though from a marketing standpoint, it certainly helps to have well-known names as founders and board members). The ITW member who chaired the first ThrillerFest in 2006 didn't yet have a book released, and the member who chaired the second ThrillerFest last summer had just debuted. I'm on the website staff and the membership committee not because they approached me, but because I offered.

I think it's like that with any organization. I joined MWA and Sisters In Crime last year after my book sold, but because I'm not as deeply involved with either of them, to be honest, I was feeling a little lost. I wondered if my memberships in either organization were worth it, but then I decided that if I don't make the effort to learn about the organization from the inside - find out about their various programs, who's doing what, and most important, how I can fit in, that's not the organization's fault.

And the truth is, because of my involvement with Backspace and with ITW, I don't really have time to devote to these other two, so if that means I'm only a name on a list, I'm not going to lay the blame on them.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not trying to talk you or anyone else into joining ITW - just saying how my various professional memberships work for me.
Karen--I'm not trying to put you in the position of defending the ITW or Thrillerfest.

My opinion is drawn from several sources, mainly a couple of colleagues who were early members of the ITW and initially very excited about joining the organization.

Needless to say, that excitement was not sustained past the first two Thrillerfests they attended.

Both of them perceived a degree of elitism at work, the cold-shouldering more pronounced at last year's 'fest in NYC. My friend who attended the 'fest in NYC is still paying off his credit card bills for that weekend.

Let's be honest--it's a bloody expensive function, maybe even the most high-ticket one around.

If an aspiring or soon-to-be-published novelist can afford it it and feel they get something valuable in return for that outlay of cash and time, that's great.

But if you're already an established professional writer who is a dues-paying member of a professional writer's organization, then what is their inducement for that steep outlay of cash to attend Thrillerfest when you don't even get a significant break on the registration fee?

From what was reported to me, Thrillerfest basically amounted to paying for overpriced drinks, overpriced food, lots of milling around and being ignored because they weren't part of the founding member's cliques. In a nutshell, they felt kind of dissed.

The end result is that they'll never attend another and neither one renewed their ITW memberships.

As for me-- I know exactly what I want if I'm paying so dearly to attend something like that.

Thrillerfest doesn't seem to offer it.
Oh no, I hope I didn't sound defensive, because I'm not. I think what you're saying here is absolutely valid - you're reporting what's been told to you by a couple of folks who've had negative experiences, and I'm not arguing that. I just wanted to present the other side of the picture for the sake of anyone who might be reading this and wondering the same as your initial question: "Is ThrillerFest worth it?" My personal answer from the perspective of one who's attended both and signed up for the third is, "Depending on what you want from it, and what you want to put into it, yes." This has been an interesting discussion, and I thank you for it.

(P.S. - This is somewhat funny, considering the discussion - this will probably be my last comment on this thread because I'm leaving in a few hours for a week's vacation and novel research in Paris. And yes, the trip will cost only slightly more than my trip to New York for ThrillerFest.) :)
Karen points out: "Depending on what you want from it, and what you want to put into it, yes."


Speaking only for myself, what I want from it--or anything for that matter-- is commensurate with what I put into it.

Primarily if I put a minimum of a couple of grand into attending Thrillerfest, I want a lot more from it than paying for overpriced drinks, overpriced hotel rooms, overpriced food and being treated like a proverbial beggar at the banquet.

And if I have professional credentials--and hey, I do--I expect to be treated courteously and respectfully by the ITW founding members...even if they do make more money per book than I do.

All things considered, that's pretty reasonable.
Have fun in Paris with your research.

A number of years ago in Europe, I was only fifty miles from the site where the climax of my book took place.

I was too pressed for time to actually go visit it and had to rely on tourist's brochures just as if I were still in the states.
Thanks, Mark! Man, that stinks to be so near, yet so far. I'm doing an overnight to Lyon, where the middle section of the book takes place, and since presumably many potential readers have been to France, I was really happy when this opportunity came up to actually go there. The climax of the book takes place in Hetian, China, so after France, it's back to the Internet for me!
This is an interesting thread. I was unable to attend the first Thrillerfest, but made the one last year in NYC and will be heading back this year. And I agree, it is one of the more expensive conferences out there (although, has anyone seen what romance conferences charge? RWA is over $400 just to sign up!) But in terms of personal experience, it was probably the most worthwhile one I've done so far. I was assigned to a panel with Jeffery Deaver, which gave me great exposure, plus I gave a one minute pitch at the debut authors breakfast. My books sold out and I saw a bump in all over sales afterward. I had the opportunity to rub elbows with some amazing NY Times bestselling authors, two of whom (Jeffery and Douglas Preston) later agreed to provide blurbs for my next book. And in terms of cost, I found a studio listed on vrbo.com that only cost $90/night. So there are ways to make it more affordable. Bottom line, for me it was invaluable. I also met a couple of people who secured agents thanks to Agentfest, and who now have book contracts. And keep in mind it's all tax deductible!


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