by | Jul 6, 2016 | The Writer's Life | 3 comments

by Jamie Freveletti

My first business trip this summer takes me to the International Thriller Writers’ THRILLERFEST 2016 writing conference. This annual conference located in New York City draws a large contingent of industry professionals, authors, aspiring writers and agents and editors. Begun in 2004, both ITW and Thrillerfest have grown every year since then. For a writer, both published and unpublished, Thrillerfest provides a whole host of interesting panels, classes and social events. I met my agent at the annual Agentfest luncheon. She accepted several authors that year and we’re all well published and still with her today. 

So you can see, this conference (and ITW) is beneficial for anyone who wants to write in the Thriller genre. I’ve been coming to this conference since its inception, and I have some tips and tricks to offer for those who intend to attend. 

If your’re unpublished but have a manuscript completed or nearly so, go to Pitchfest

As mentioned above, I met my agent in person for the first time at Thrillerfest. I had started the standard query process, writing a query letter and submitting to my top “dream” agencies, and I had received several requests for partials and two requests for fulls. Barbara Poelle, my agent, was one of the full requests. When we met at Agentfest (now called Pitchfest), we discussed the manuscript, saw that we clicked, and I walked away sure that she was the agent I wanted to represent me. I notified the other agents, withdrew the manuscript and signed with Barbara. Pitchfest provided me with the opportunity to meet her in person and gave me the confidence that I was making the right choice. The reason I suggest that you go to this part of the conference once you are finished or almost finished, is that you should be able to give an “elevator pitch” to the agents about your manuscript when you see them. Doing it too far in advance is not that beneficial, because agents will want to know that you’re on the path to completion before seriously considering signing you. Save your big guns for when you are confident that the manuscript is in the shape you like before pitching it here. 

If you’re working on a manuscript, whether unpublished or a new book, go to Craftfest.

Craftfest is taught by published authors who can help you with various aspects of your work, whether you are an unpublished author working on a manuscript or a published author writing another. I find that I always come away from Craftfest with a cool tip or trick that always helps me in my writing. Everyone’s process is different, and it pays to hear how others work. I’m always looking to improve, and listening to others talk about writing helps me to do so. 

Spend the rest of your time at Thrillerfest and be sure to hang in the hotel bar where the action will be.

Spend the last couple of days at Thrillerfest, where the panels continue, you’ll hear more tips and tricks, and you’ll get to hang out with others in the writing world. Thrillerfest provides a wonderful opportunity to mingle with others that love writing, love the Thriller genre, and enjoy getting out of their quiet writing space. Writers work in solitude and it’s refreshing and revitalizing to be surrounded by others in the same genre. I always leave Thrillerfest with a renewed excitement and new ideas.

And don’t just go to the panels, be sure to visit the hotel bar. Even if you’re not a drinker. Just grab a glass of whatever you like and chat. Most of the action at writing conferences happens at the bar, and Thrillerfest is no different in this regard. Don’t make the mistake I made at my first conference, where I spent all my free time at the closest coffee shop (I’m a coffee addict). You won’t meet anyone. Head to the bar, take a deep breath, and introduce yourself! 

I‘ll be tweeting pictures and hopefully a short video or two both to my twitter account and to the Rogue Women Writers account. My username is @jamiefreveletti and the blog’s is @roguewomenwrite if you wish to follow along. I’ll do my best to get shots of all the RWW writers. And if you’re heading to the conference, don’t hesitate to say hello! 

Best, Jamie Freveletti

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  1. S. Lee Manning

    Good recommendations. I'm arriving today myself.

  2. Sonja Stone

    Can't wait to see you!