Just arrived back from Thrillerfest in NYC.
As always it's...well...a thrill to hang out with my publishers and drink and eat and gossip and pat one another on the back. It's even greater to see some of the very talented and successful authors who through the years have become real friends. It's even fun to be in the presence of some authors who are not my friends but whom I'm a fan of. Big names like Michael Connelly, Anne Rice, Joseph Finder and more. It's also strange when you find yourself signing copies of your newest novel at table just two or three down from Lee Child.
"Hey Lee, how's about Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Not sure Mr. Smiley was the right choice. Let's grab a beer and talk about it later."
Until fairly recently I've always avoided conferences like the plague.
They're expensive and time consuming, and in terms of sales not much will happen there as a result of downing a few beers with your fellow authors. An author friend of mine refers to conferences as one big "circle jerk." Yah, he's right. If however, you're looking for an agent or a publisher, literary conferences such as ThrillerFest is a good place to be (I did hear of one neophyte writer who pitched an agent and signed up with him on the spot...).
Two years ago, I attended my first Thrillerfest back when I was strictly independent. I walked in like I owned the joint, having just come off the sale of 100,000 editions of The Innocent, another 30 or 40K of Godchild back up by similar numbers with The Remains.
One year ago, I had just signed a 7 book, "very nice" deal with Thomas & Mercer. We were anticipating the first batch of books to be released on October 1, with a couple of books to be released in December 2012. It was an exciting time, because life was all about the anticipation.
This year there was still excitement, but life is more or a work in progress at present. I'm speedily earning out my advance, while finishing some new books, and anticipating which roads to take when publishing them down the line.
This is a rapidly changing industry and who knows what next year will bring. I do however have a strong feeling that the writer who walked through the doors of the Grand Central Hyatt (the home of Thrillerfest) this year, will not be the same writer who walks through them in July 2014. The work in progress year will quickly come to a close this Fall as the new writer emerges from his cocoon and dramatically steps up his game in terms of writing, publishing, and marketing.
After all, being a writer is like being a shark. If you're not always moving forward, you die.