Writers Conferences can open up new opportunities for writers. They can help you improve your craft. They can help you network and create new contacts in the business. They can give you opportunities to receive feedback on your writing.
In my experience, the two best writers conferences for thriller writers are ThrillerFest and Killer Nashville. They each provide a full slate of opportunities for thriller writers, although the conferences are unique in how they approach it.
ThrillerFest is held annually in New York City in July. It runs four days, and the full conference will run you over $1000. Plus the costs of hotels and meals in NYC. Run by the International Thriller Writers ITW) organization, it is broken down into three main sessions – CraftFest, AgentFest, and ThrillerFest.
CraftFest is a day and a half of lectures on the craft of writing. Top thriller writers are available to teach on a wide variety of subjects within the thriller genre. The lecture last about an hour, and are top shelf in quality.
AgentFest is like speed-dating with agents. Fifty agents gather in four conference rooms, and attendees move from one agent to the next (the authors pick which agent to stand in line for) and make a short pitch. Agents may ask to hear more, and sometimes will ask to see more. This goes on for a few hours.
ThrillerFest lasts two days, and is made up of panels and interviews with authors, agents, publishers, and other people in the business.
ThrillerFest is a great conference. It is much larger than Killer Nashville in terms of attendance, and has access to more literary agents. It is also much more expensive.
Killer Nashville is an amazing experience, run by Clay Stafford a his team of fabulous people. It caps attendance at around 300 people, and it handles agent pitches differently. At Killer Nashville, you can gain access to agents and publishers via Roundtables, where a dozen writers will each read two pages of their work to two professionals (agents or publishers). There are many sessions, and every attendee is guaranteed a slot. This year, I read in three different sessions, so I met with multiple agents and publishers.
The conference has lectures on the craft and business of writing, and panels. Authors are often invited to be part of a panel. The vibe is casual and chance meetings with professionals are common at many of the social actives available. They also have two bookstores – a Barnes and Noble, and a Killer Nashville bookstore for those who have books not available at B&N. They have book signings for authors who speak at lectures and panels.
I recommend both conferences. I try to alternate between each. I’ve been to other great conferences (The La Jolla Writers Conference is always a winner), but these two are the best for those writing in the thriller genre.
Steven G. Jackson December 10th, 2015
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