I am used to presenting at writing conferences, not attending them as a new author. Attending Thrillerfest was a chance to get an overview of the world of the Thriller genre in a few short days. The conference was held at a very nice hotel, The Grand Hyatt. The schedule included a wonderful luncheon, cocktail parties every night and lots of other opportunities to network. I was impressed that the celebrity writers were often seen in attendance, not just on the panels.
I noticed how well run and focused the structure of the four-day conference was. The scope was threefold:
- Developing your craft
- Gaining a familiarity with the business end of writing
- Chances to see and meet your favorite writers, and hear how they succeeded
I was also captivated by my fellow attendees, many of whom had traveled long distances to attend the conference. Further, many of the writers were very accomplished, full of serious determination and highly self-disciplined.
I was touched by their kindness to each other and especially to me, along with their bravery during the Pitchfest portion of the conference where we all stood on long lines to tell our stories in three minutes or less to high level agents and editors. I was also fascinated at how many thrillers they managed to read while still finding time to write.
I am a historically omnivorous reader of literary fiction, thrillers and mysteries. Over the past 10 years, I have mostly only had time to read the new works that my students create, along with inhaling quantities of non-fiction. When I have the rare luxury of time to read for pleasure, I tend to reread the classic writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway. Now, after the conference I have decided that I must find time to read more widely in my chosen genre.
I found the conference empowering for the following reasons:
- There is a huge market for thrillers
- As a result, it does seem to be possible for an unknown, first time author to find a publisher and an audience
- The most successful writers, such as Jon Land or Donald Maas were gracious with their time and advice, eager to help their counterparts
- My fellow writers each had great story ideas, full of twists and turns, and were thoughtful and more than happy to share with their colleagues
- The agents who attended were also generous and helpful – as well as being serious about discovering and aiding new writers
- The classes offered were for the most part, really good
On the other hand, I was humbled by:
- The sheer number of thrillers available for sale in the bookstore.
- Difficulty in getting an agent and a publisher
- The necessity of self-promotion
By shifting my perspective from presenter to attendee I was able to gain the full benefits that a writer can receive when attending a conference.
The bonus I received was amazing: I pitched my new book (which I have just begun) not expecting much, but had the good fortune to have five agents interested in seeing a complete or partial manuscript. Now I have to find time to write it – wish me luck!
Here’s to your successful and happy writing,
Copyright (c)2014 by Marilyn Horowitz