Friday, June 5, 2015

Interview With 10th Annual ThrillerFest Marketing Committee Chair Jon Land

1.      Jon, what makes this year’s upcoming ThrillerFest special?  Well, first off we've added a new track called CareerFest on Thursday morning, July 9 that will focus entirely on the professional and business aspects of being a writer/author.  Like whether to pursue independent or traditional publishing and the parameters of each.  We're also honoring the great Nelson DeMille as ThrillerMaster, our highest honor.  And, believe it or not, this is the first award Nelson has ever won!  Go figure.

2.      What will take place there?  The first two days for CraftFest, some truly amazing classes taught by some of the biggest names, and best communicators, in the business.  The second two days which comprise ThrillerFest features the best panel line-up we've ever had.  This year's theme, for the conference's 10th anniversary, is "Discovery" which makes it the perfect conference for both authors and fans to attend.

3.      Who are some of the big-name attendees? Oh man, such a long list. . . .  Sandra Brown, David Morrell, Heather Graham, Kathy Reichs, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Clive Cussler, R.L. Stine, Nelson DeMille, Joe Finder, Steve Berry--how's that for starters?

4.      Do you feel thrillers, as a genre, is growing? Wow, great question and yes, I do.  With so many books being published, and buyers becoming increasingly discrete about who and what they buy, thrillers have become a staple of the industry.  A reliable genre in which you know the kind of story you're getting told by some of the best storytellers in the business.  And that's the point.  A thriller is storytelling in its most basic, tried and true form.  Books are now competing across a broad spectrum of media for both entertainment attention and dollars, and there is simply no better form of reading entertainment than the thriller.

5.      What advice do you have writers of thrillers?  Picking up on what I just said, tell a story.  I know that sounds simple but at its heart a great thriller harks back to how John D. McDonald defined story:  "Stuff happens to people you care about."  Always keep that in mind, starting with what vests the reader emotionally in the plight of your hero?  The harder it is for he or she to get from point A to point B, and the more he or she learns along the way, the more successful your thriller will be.  And that's what storytelling is all about.

6.      What trends are you seeing in book publishing?  Well, quite frankly, I don't like a lot of the trends I see.  Not only has it become nearly impossible for new writers to get published traditionally, it's just as hard for the vast majority of existing writers to be published successfully.  We've lost 5,000 mall and other bookstores in the past decade along with tens of thousands of mass market pockets in retailers from coast-to-coast.  What that's created, to a scary degree, is a world where there are New York Times bestselling authors and, pretty much, everybody else.  Both the mid-list and the almost (or just below) bestseller level has virtually disappeared.  And for authors like me, unfortunately, the deterioration of mass market (paperback reprint or original) has only been partially compensated for by sales of E-books.  If you can't rethink who you are and be willing to redefine what you are, you run the risk of being left behind.  One of the great things about all four days of ThrillerFest is it really helps writers of all levels stay ahead of the curve and up on the kind of trends that help define success.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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