ThrillerFest XV • July 7 – 11, 2020 • Grand Hyatt • New York City

Frequently Asked Questions About ThrillerFest

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After looking through this document, if you have any specific questions about ThrillerFest, please feel free to contact Executive Director Kimberley Howe at

Q. What is ThrillerFest?

A: ThrillerFest is the annual conference of ITW, International Thriller Writers. The unique, popular, and rapidly expanding gathering was created in 2004 by successful, bestselling authors to bring thousands of writers, readers, publishers, producers, editors, and agents together to promote and support thriller authors everywhere.

The ThrillerFest conference has six main components: Master Class, CraftFest, ConsultFest, PitchFest, ThrillerFest, and the Awards Banquet.

  • Master Class was designed as an educational tool for aspiring writers as well as debut and midlist authors to gain advanced training from the masters of the craft in an intimate, day-long training session.
  • CraftFest was designed for all writers to learn from bestselling authors and subject experts who kindly offer their advice and assistance to advance attendees’ writing techniques and further their careers. We also include CareerFest under this heading. It was designed to help educate attendees about the business aspects of the publishing industry.
  • ConsultFest was designed to get instant feedback on a query letter or first two pages of a manuscript by an industry leading expert.
  • PitchFest was designed to match writers with agents, producers, and editors.
  • ThrillerFest proper, the final two days of the conference, is intended to offer readers a chance to meet the best authors in the industry and be introduced to debut and established authors. Expect innovative panels, spotlight interviews, and workshops to educate and inspire.
  • The Thriller Awards Banquet allows ITW to honor its ThrillerMaster, Silver Bullet Award, Thriller Legend, and Thriller Award winners.

Find out more about this exciting five-day thriller extravaganza by browsing our website at

Q: What is ITW?

A: ITW, International Thriller Writers, represents professional thriller authors from around the world. ITW is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as thrillers. This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, romantic suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and a myriad of similar subject areas.

ITW’s mission is “To bestow recognition and promote the thriller genre at an innovative and superior level for and through our Active members; to provide opportunities for mentoring, education, and collegiality among thriller authors and industry professionals; and to grant awards for excellence in the thriller genre.” ITW By-laws: Article II, Purposes, Section 2.

One of the main purposes of the organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and established authors advance their careers. To that end, ITW has designed numerous programs and events that promote debut and midlist writers and their work, sometimes in partnership with the masters in the field. In addition, ITW promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the thriller genre. Finally, it brings together almost a thousand writers, readers, publishers, producers, editors, and agents at its annual conference, ThrillerFest; as well as at CraftFest, a writing workshop program; and PitchFest, where aspiring authors can meet and pitch to top literary agents, producers, and editors.

ITW represents over 4,200 authors in 51 countries with 3.2 billion books in print. Join ITW today!

Q: When is ThrillerFest, the annual conference for ITW?

A: The event is held at the same place and time each year, in New York City during the second week of July. New York City is the hub for the publishing industry in the United States and provides a convenient venue for the top industry representatives to attend.

This year, ThrillerFest will be held from July 8 -13, 2019, in New York City, New York, United States of America. The official hotel for ThrillerFest is the Grand Hyatt Hotel located in Midtown Manhattan at 109 E. 42nd Street at Grand Central Terminal, New York City, NY 10017 (212) 883-1234. The conference hotel is conveniently located near Grand Central Terminal and offers tranquil rooms and good dining options.

Q: Why is ThrillerFest always in New York City?

A: New York City is the home of the American publishing industry. Bestselling authors, editors, agents, publishers, and publicists can walk or cab to the convention from their offices to meet with readers, writers, debut, and established authors, which make them far more likely to help ITW with an extraordinary level of programming and events.

ThrillerFest organizers recognize that if the venue changed from New York City, far fewer of the industry movers and shakers would be able to attend this unique conference. And although the expense is higher for attendees, the quality of ideas, advice, and assistance is far greater in comparison to other conferences designed with economics, sandy beaches, or other siting criteria. This conference is all about connecting writers and readers with the best talent in our industry, which is why ThrillerFest will remain in New York City.

Q: How can I better manage my budget for ThrillerFest?

A: Spending time with the very best in the business, in big numbers, is worth the investment of attending ThrillerFest. Attendees are important customers of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and they treat us accordingly by offering ThrillerFest discounts. Find a roommate for the Hyatt’s rooms with double beds and you’ll both enjoy the incredible amenities of the newly renovated Hyatt. Enjoy the food court in Grand Central Station next door for a more economical meal while gazing at the hustle and bustle of New Yorkers on the move.

Q: How do I get to the hotel from the airport?

A: LaGuardia is a nine-mile cab ride from the hotel at about $50 (plus tip) round trip. A more economical alternative is the New York Airport Service, which offers a bus for $26 round trip. Once tickets are purchased, the bus pick up is near the luggage area of LaGuardia and drop off is a half-block from the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The hotel concierge can help with travel arrangements. Similar deals are offered from Kennedy and Newark airports.


Q: What is Master Class and when is it?

A: Master Class is an extra session, held the day before CraftFest, and will require additional Registration. This program is a one-day, intensive workshop on the craft of writing offered on Tuesday, July 9, 2017. Please take advantage of this unique opportunity to work in small groups under the tutelage of New York Times bestselling authors. Our instructors this year are: Steve Berry, Grant Blackwood, David Corbett, Karen Dionne, Robert Dugoni, Steven James D.P. Lyle, MD., Gayle Lynds, Donald Maass, and F. Paul Wilson. Whether you are a new writer or an experienced one, we’ll offer a class that will elevate your writing to the next level.

Q: Are there attendance packages that contain Master Class?

A: A Master Class and PitchFest package is offered.


Q. What is CraftFest and when is it?

A: Running all day Wednesday and Thursday morning, CraftFest is the fastest growing section of the conference and is ideal if you are looking to hone your writing skills. Everyone is welcome, from aspiring authors to established authors, and you’ll be privy to writing secrets from New York Times bestsellers and other phenomenal professionals. CraftFest includes a line-up of information about firearms, explosives, forensics, pathology, and other information that will help you write realistic scenes. There will be a “CareerFest” line-up, which will focus on marketing, promotion, and other career-related advice. Sign up soon so you don’t miss out!

Q: What can I expect at CraftFest?

A: CraftFest is an intensive series of hour-long classes taught by some of the most established authors and industry experts in the thriller business. These courses cover everything from your opening sentence to marketing your finished product. You’ll learn how to pitch your manuscripts to agents and editors. You’ll get tips on working efficiently and smoothly. You’ll be taught everything worth knowing about writing thrillers. Expect to bring plenty of fresh pens and notepads, because you will find yourself busy taking notes of treasured advice and jewels of ideas. Or buy the CDs available for sale immediately after the sessions at a table in the book room.

Q: Who organizes CraftFest?

A: Dr. Doug Lyle, MD, a cardiologist who’s also a professional thriller writer, has been the director of CraftFest since its inception, and is also one of the teachers during this event.

Q: Who are the other teachers?

A: In addition to Dr. Doug Lyle, MD, who imparts his forensic wisdom to attendees, CraftFest Instructors are generally writing experts, New York Times bestselling authors, such as Steve Berry, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, Heather Graham, John Lescroart, Greg Iles, Andrew Gross, Linwood Barclay, Grant Blackwood, Walter Mosley and countless others. We also have experts from the US Secret Service, the ATF, the FBI, the US Marshalls, blood spatter gurus, forensic dentists and many other talented and knowledge individuals. Like the ThrillerFest schedule, the specific list of classes and instructors for CraftFest will be posted closer to July.

Q: Can I sign up for CraftFest and nothing else?

A: Yes. The writing school stands on its own, so you can register just for CraftFest.

Q: Are there any new CraftFest programs?

A: CareerFest will be held from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm on Thursday, July 11. It is designed to help answer questions and provide ideas for even the most seasoned authors. The classes are designed around learning more about traditional publishing and indie publishing as well as tips on securing an agent.


Q: What is CareerFest?

A: CareerFest offers panels highlighting success in the world of traditional publishing, landing an agent, and finding success to Hollywood. Tilted as much to the independent leaning author as the author seeking a more mainstream road to success, CareerFest seeks to help all authors find the best and most viable routes to success.


Q: What exactly is PitchFest and when is it?

A: On Thursday afternoon following CraftFest, we will host PitchFest, where you can pitch your novel to some of the best agents and acquiring editors in the business. Each year, we have over 50 agents and editors attending this special event with movie producers attending the event from time to time. Read about the incredible tales of success under the Success Stories tab. PitchFest has become the world’s largest gathering of top agents and acquiring editors from publishing houses looking for the next bestseller. More specifically, it is a three-and-a-half hour opportunity for writers to pitch their manuscripts to as many agents as they have the time and energy to meet.

Q: Can I really find an agent for my manuscript?

A: A number of authors have gotten representation from this event, including our very own PitchFest Director, Sandra Brannan, who found her agent through pitching. Several writers’ manuscripts have become real, published works, as evidenced by a few sharing their Success Stories. PitchFest, held every year on the Thursday afternoon following CraftFest, is designed for authors who want to pitch their work to the agents and acquiring editors from publishing houses who volunteer to hear the pitches.

Q: Are these real agents and editors or the kind that say they are the real deal but charge me to read my manuscript and then steer me into vanity presses?

A: Our agents and editors are the real deal. They are from or sell to major publishers around the world, and they are highly respected in the field. They do not charge a fee to read your work, and they do not steer you toward vanity presses. (Which, for those unfamiliar with the term, are companies that will “publish” your book only if you pay them.) Our agents only work with publishers who pay YOU for your writing. All agents who attend PitchFest are either members of AAR, or they have sold to an ITW-approved publisher. Only ITW-approved publishers’ editors are invited.

Q: Are they taking new clients?

A: Every agent and editor who attends is actively seeking thriller manuscripts, and many are looking for other things in addition: mystery, suspense, romance, non-fiction, supernatural, and other genres. Review the participating bios and photos on the ThrillerFest website for what each is looking for and what they are not looking for.

Q: When is PitchFest?

A: PitchFest is held on Thursday from 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm during the ThrillerFest week, with Power Hour from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Feel free to take breaks whenever you need as you are free to wander from room to room and stand in line for whichever agent, publisher, or editor you’d like.

Q: How does PitchFest work?

A: We recommend you study the bios of the agents and editors before arriving at the PitchFest event and prioritize whom you would like to visit based on the best fit for you and your manuscript. Once you have your prioritized list, you will find the rooms are arranged alphabetically in four rooms from A-Z or Z-A. The tables are arranged around all four walls in each room. Stand in the line of an agent, editor, or publisher to whom you would like to pitch to and when they are free, have a seat, relax, and pitch your manuscript. They want to know about you too, and why you feel best qualified to write the story you did. This process may take 30 seconds or 5 minutes, but normally you will be done in 3 minutes. And just like speed dating, it serves you best to be prepared, concise, and succinct with your pitch. They may ask some questions or not, but normally you will hear them say they are not interested or give you instructions on how to send them your work if they are interested. Thank them for their time, then move to the next name on your list and make your next pitch. The main event is two-and-a-half hours, with an additional Power Hour immediately afterward, for a total of three-and-a-half hours of pitching time.

If you are concerned about how to prepare, please attend Kathleen Antrim and Jon Land’s class during CraftFest to learn pitching tips and ideas from the experts. For additional advice, we have designed Practice PitchFest with knowledgeable industry experts to help you perfect that pitch. Practice PitchFest is held at Noon on Thursday, just before PitchFest. And if you’re really trying to sharpen your tools, register for ConsultFest to meet with an acquiring editor at the leading publishing houses or the top agents in the industry for 15 minutes of personalized advice on how to improve your craft or query by providing a copy of your query letter or first 2-pages of your manuscript.

Q: Why the distinction between PitchFest and Power Hour? Why not just a straight three-and-a-half hours?

A: Some of the agents and editors can commit to two-and-a-half hours, others can commit to three-and-a-half. So make sure you visit with your highest priority ones in the first two-and-a-half hours because he or she may not be there for the Power Hour. We split the day into two parts: the main pitching event of two-and-a-half hours, at which everyone will appear, and the Power Hour extension, to accommodate those who are willing to stay longer for you.

Q: Is there anything besides PitchFest in which I can participate?

A: As a PitchFest attendee, Practice PitchFest occurs on Thursday just before PitchFest. We recommend you try out your pitch on these fabulous authors and hand-selected literary agents who can provide some last minute advice to you. Invaluable time with the experts.

After two years of exploding popularity with the ‘No Pitch Zone’ at PitchFest, a new event has been added to the ThrillerFest week to replace the ‘No Pitch Zone’, which was confusing for some PitchFest attendees. ConsultFest will be available throughout CraftFest and ThrillerFest where attendees can invest $75 to meet for 15 minutes one-on-one with an industry leading expert. Recruiting the top acquiring editors and agents for this opportunity, the ThrillerFest organizers are excited to offer one of the most valuable moments in any writer’s career to get instant feedback on his or her query letter or first two pages of a manuscript. The writer will be assigned a time with the expert who will read the writer’s work, provide comments about first impressions, and offer feedback for improvements. We anticipate 2019 as the inaugural year for ConsultFest to be so popular that we are limiting registration to a maximum of two sessions per attendee. Eligibility for ConsultFest requires registration to either CraftFest or ThrillerFest. We have a limited amount of experts and will confirm sessions on a first-come-first-serve basis.

As a writer, Master Class on Tuesday is an excellent opportunity to have a bestselling author review and critique your work and/or impart pearls of wisdom you just can’t get anywhere else. The classes are typically intimate, meaning ten writers assigned to one master teacher.

Also as a writer, CraftFest is an amazing opportunity to learn from bestselling authors and experts in the industry and is recommended if you want to attend PitchFest. PitchFest cannot be purchased as a single item (must either sign up for CraftFest or ThrillerFest) because we want you prepared and professional for the pitching sessions, or we may not have as many agents and editors volunteer in the future. This is a business and they expect you to conduct yourselves accordingly. CraftFest will help you prepare for PitchFest and is held on Wednesday and Thursday morning, just before PitchFest.

Finally, ThrillerFest is an amazing opportunity Friday and Saturday to meet readers, authors, the media, and many others. And of course, the Thriller Awards Banquet is Saturday night.

Q: Do I have to have a completed manuscript, or can I just pitch what I have written so far or throw out an idea I have for a novel?

A: Having a completed manuscript is not mandatory to participate in PitchFest, but do your best to have one completed. We recommend this because we know from experience that if agents like what they see, they want to sign you as a client and sell your book immediately to a publisher. You want that, too. But they can’t sell your book unless it’s finished. And they may not be as interested months from now when you do finish it. So, do your best to type THE END before coming to PitchFest. That said, being only partway done is fine. Mentioning to an agent that you have an idea about a novel should only be offered if they ask what other ideas you have considered writing as a follow-up to the completed manuscript you are pitching. This is not practice. This is business.

Q: Do you assign me to agents, or do I pick?

A: Whom you pitch to is entirely up to you. Over the main event and Power Hour, you will have time to pitch to at least a half-dozen. Maybe a dozen. Possibly fewer. Possibly more. It depends upon the length of the lines and how you prioritized the ones you would like to see. Pitching that many traditionally through a letter or email would take months. At PitchFest, you accomplish that in one afternoon.

Q: Do I have to stay the whole three-and-a-half hours?

A: We do not take attendance. You can stay for one pitch, one hour, two hours, or the whole three-and-a-half. It’s entirely up to you. Many authors have their list of six or twelve, and when they’re done, they leave. Many more stay the entire time and see as many as they can. Pitching is a numbers game—the more you see, the more likely someone is to say yes. Also, just because a few told you to send them a partial or the first few pages does not mean they’ll ultimately take you on as a client. So the more you can get to say they are interested, the better.

Q: Are the agents and editors paid to be there?

A: Absolutely not. They are volunteers. They are investing their time hoping to find great stories written by decent people. The more passionate they are about the manuscript, the easier it will be to sell to publishers. Don’t be discouraged if one of your top priority agents isn’t interested in your story. That does not mean you don’t have the right story. It’s just not the right story for them. Move to the next one on your list.

Q: Whom do we turn to if we have a more specific question about PitchFest?

A: The organizers have assigned Sandra Brannan as the PitchFest Director. She is a volunteer author who is there for you with any questions or concerns you might have about PitchFest. Her contact information is or #SandraBrannanAuthor for FaceBook communications or @SandraBrannan on Twitter. She’s been through PitchFest several times, finding her agent the second year she attended. And like most of the authors and writers who volunteer for ThrillerFest directors, Sandra is a thriller author who volunteers her time to help you. So please know, she truly is there to help you.

Q: If everyone is a volunteer, why am I charged to attend?

A: The cost to reserve the conference rooms, the pitch rooms, the book room, help from hotel staff, refreshments, air-conditioning, and keeping the bathrooms fresh and breezy is why we charge for the event. Although our main purpose is to help writers make the necessary connections with people in the industry who can help them advance their careers, it takes money to provide the venue. Even the board of directors pay to attend the conference, just like you, which helps keep the costs down for everyone.

Q: Do people who attend PitchFest actually get representation?

A: Sometimes, but not all the times. Some of those who have gotten representation have shared their success stories with us. While there’s NO GUARANTEE REAL OR IMPLIED that any agent will like your work—I made that all-caps to impress upon you that you might not get even a single solitary nibble—the opposite is equally true: they may all love your work. Some get representation but never a publishing deal. There is no definitive outcome here other than one: if you don’t attend PitchFest, those agents will miss an opportunity to hear you pitch.

Q: What’s the worst that can happen at PitchFest?

A: Even if you have not one single agent interested in your story (which is incredibly rare), going through the process of pitching is still an enormously valuable experience. You will have met the top agents in the business, gone through the pitching experience, made valuable contacts, gotten feedback on your presentations, and learned a lot of things about the business. And, you’ll have the inspiration you need to strengthen your book and come back next year.

Q: Walk me through the PitchFest process.

A: You and many other writers participate in CraftFest on Wednesday and Thursday morning. Practice PitchFest will be held in Ballroom I on the Ballroom level a couple of hours before PitchFest. Starting at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, you may meet outside the Ballrooms on the Ballroom level (The Ballroom level is up the stairs, which are near the registration desk.). A volunteer will be there to direct you to where the line starts. Then at 2:00 p.m., we will escort you to the rooms where we hold the pitches. (The rooms will be familiar. They’re the same rooms where you attended CraftFest classes.)

Note: The initial line into the rooms will be long, because there will be more than a hundred of you waiting single-file. Do not be concerned about the length. We have dozens of agents signed up and you will be able to talk to as many as you want, even if you’re at the tail end of the line initially.

There are four rooms, each containing tables for the agents and editors. Each table has two chairs—one for you, one for them. They’re spaced along all four walls, in alphabetical order from A-Z or Z-A. There is a sign at each entry door listing who is in that room, plus their name is posted over his or her table inside the room, so you can find them with a quick glance. You will already have decided which ones you want to see, based on their bios contained on this website. When the doors open at 2 pm, you will walk into the rooms and find an agent, publisher, or editor. On the wall taped behind them, you will find their name, what they are currently looking for, and what they are not looking for.

Q: How do they let me know if they like my pitch?

A: The agent says yes, no, or send me a partial or the entire manuscript to read, then dismisses the author and takes the next person standing in line. Newly freed, you go into another line and make your next pitch.

Q: How long is each pitch?

A: Three minutes, more or less. Occasionally, an agent or editor will take longer with a writer and although we encourage them to limit time to three minutes, we do appreciate when a match is being made that may require more time. Listen and learn, rather than get upset at another writer’s success. Agents and editors appreciate your patience and so do I as an organizer. This is all about match-making and your time will come.

Q: How will we know when to move to the next line?

A: The agent, publisher, or editor will tell you. We’re giving them three-minute timers and/or having them manage their own schedules. Once they tell you they’re not interested in your work or invite you to send them some pages as a sample, please thank them for his or her time and move on. You’ll know.

We allow the agents and editors more freedom in managing their own schedule because some can say yes or no in fifteen seconds, and thus hear more pitches during the event. Others require a minute, still others, three or four minutes, maybe even five or six. Each book idea is unique, so we decided to let them manage their own time clocks. Please, don’t worry about any of this. Just relax, and concentrate on having a pleasant, lively discussion with them.

Q: Should I carry a stack of printed manuscripts in case an agent wants one?

A: No. Keep your manuscripts in your hotel room, or better yet, leave them at home. The agents will ask you to send one via mail or by email if they’re interested. They don’t want to haul a hundred pounds of manuscripts on the subway when the day is over. And please don’t hand agents a flash drive. Agents will not insert flash drives into their computers, for fear of viruses.

Q: Can I keep a copy on my computer or iPhone, so I can instantly e-mail it to the agents if they ask?

A: That’s fine. If they want your manuscript e-mailed, they will give you their e-mail address and give you instructions.

Q: How about business cards?

A: Not a good idea to force your business card on an agent or editor unless they ask for it. Always a good idea to have business cards with you. Make sure your contact information is prominent, especially e-mail. You can get cards printed online, or at a local print shop. Two online shops I’ve used with great success: and

Q: Should I have a website?

A: A website is not needed at all for pitching. You should have one anyway, so people can find you easily. Two good places to reserve web names: and (Godaddy is cheaper, if that helps.) If you’re not ready to build a website, at least reserve the domain name you’ll want to use as a writer. That way it’s there when you’re ready to unveil yourself to the digital world.

Q: Last year, some authors brought one-page summaries of their books, which they could hand to the agents. Do you still recommend doing that?

A: Agents generally prefer to take nothing from the writer so they can limit what they carry during their commute home. If they ask for anything, they may want a simple business card. Shane Gericke, volunteer for past PitchFests and bestselling author, created a suggested template, which can be found at the bottom of this FAQ. It’s essentially a one-page form that lists your name, contact information, story synopsis, and author bio. Some agents may want them, most don’t. You may want to print up a dozen and bring them along, in case any of your agents ask for one. Most will not ask.

Q: Can I hop lines if mine is too long?

A: Absolutely. If the line you are in is long and you see a shorter one, feel free to move over (not cut in). Pitching is a numbers game: the more you talk to, the more likely you are to find one who wants what you’re selling. By all means, have your list of whom you want to talk to. But try the others, too. You never know who’s going to love your work. Only one rule for the lines: please don’t cut. Be courteous and go to the back of the line.

Q: Can I go to the bathroom during the pitches?

A: You can take a break whenever you need. Go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, sit down, and take a deep breath. When you come back to the room all refreshed, join a new line, and please, don’t cut.

Q: Can I practice my pitch while I’m in line?

A: Please don’t. Every room will contain more than fifty people, simultaneously hearing and making pitches. That’s a lot of noise, and the rooms don’t need more. If you want to talk, please go into the hall. When you’re sitting in that pitch chair and can hear the agent saying clearly, “I love this idea! Can you e-mail me the manuscript?” you’ll thank me.

Q: Who will be there during PitchFest in case I have questions?

A: The PitchFest Director, Sandra Brannan, will be there the entire time. And she always carries ibuprofen, if you need it. Assistant Director Terry Rodgers and ThrillerFest Executive Director Kimberley Howe will also be there and open for questions. Plus, we’ll have room captains—veteran author volunteers who know the pitching drill—at the doorway of every room. Ask them anything.

Q: What happens when it’s over?

A: Pitching will be from 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm. When PitchFest is over, please feel free to take a break before the ThrillerFest Opening Cocktail Hour at 6:30 pm. Many of the agents and editors will be attending the cocktail hour, too, so please be courteous and thank them for their time.

Q: Can I sign up ONLY for PitchFest?

A: In order to attend PitchFest, you must also sign up for either CraftFest or ThrillerFest. Although you can sign up for CraftFest or ThrillerFest, but not sign up for PitchFest, we don’t allow you to sign up ONLY for PitchFest.

Again, we want to make sure you are as prepared and professional as possible before pitching. Agents’ time is valuable so please prepare accordingly. Requiring CraftFest or ThrillerFest as a prerequisite for PitchFest helps ensure that only authors making a serious commitment to their craft or have made significant advances in their careers will get into the rooms, and that provides everyone with a better experience. After all, if the agents quit coming because the quality of pitching is poor or the writers are not professional, they’ll never hear great ideas from serious writers like you.

Q: I’ve never made a book pitch. Will I learn how to pitch at CraftFest?

A: Yes, that’s one of the goals at CraftFest: teaching you how to present your work to agents and editors, and close the sale with them. We provide a full presentation on effective pitching during CraftFest. Look for Kathleen Antrim and Jon Land’s class in the CraftFest Schedule as it gets closer to July to find the times.

Q: What should I wear that day? Suit and tie? Dress and high heels?

A: There’s no dress code. Consider that you’re trying to sell your work to major agents who are professional and expect you to take this process seriously. Dress like you respect them and the process. Business casual is recommended. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. You’ll be on your feet a lot.

Q: I want to thank the agents and editors but I don’t want to appear desperate or as a suck up.

A: By all means, thank them, and do so sincerely. It’s not sucking up. And it doesn’t sound desperate. It sounds courteous. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and they are going out of their way to help you sell your book. They could just as easily stay in their offices and work.

Q: How do I contact someone if I have questions about PitchFest?

A: Drop Sandra Brannan, your PitchFest Director, an e-mail at, Facebook message her under Sandra Brannan, Author (#SandraBrannanAuthor), or Tweet at @SandraBrannan. She’ll be at ThrillerFest starting on Tuesday, so if you need something on-site, don’t hesitate to hunt her down (to see what she looks like, check out her website at Contact her and she’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Click HERE for sample of One-Page Template used for PitchFest.


Q: What is ConsultFest and how does it differ from PitchFest?

PitchFest provides you, the writer, the opportunity to meet with whoever you want out the dozens of agents and editors who volunteer to hear your pitch and discuss the idea in three minutes, whereas ConsultFest arranges a fifteen minute block of time for you to discuss your query letter or the first two pages of your manuscript with an editor or agent for advice on how to improve your chances of being published.  No pitching happens during ConsultFest, just honest, sincere feedback from a leading expert in the industry on how to improve your craft or your ability to catch an agent’s or editor’s eye.

Once you sign up for ConsultFest, you will be assigned a time with an expert based on the events you plan to attend.  For example, if you signed up for MasterCraft, plan to meet with a expert sometime on Wednesday following that event.  If you signed up for CraftFest, you’ll be assigned an expert on Wednesday or Thursday morning.  If you signed up for ThrillerFest, you’ll be assigned an expert on Friday or Saturday.  You will not have a choice of the expert you’ll be assigned, but you will be able to see who has confirmed to volunteer as experts on the website.  Fifteen minutes of time with one of these leading industry experts will be the best investment any writer could make, given a desire to learn and a willingness to come in to the process with an open mind.

We have had to limit consults to two per writer so that everyone has a chance to meet with these experts for their one-on-one time.  To sign up for ConsultFest, register today.


Q: How do I register for ThrillerFest and what options should I consider?

A: Registering for ThrillerFest is easy. Simply go to Registration on the ThrillerFest website and choose from a menu of options. The options include four main tracks plus a banquet that spans five days celebrating thrillers, the authors who write them, and the fans who read them. The options for registering include:

  • Master Class: An extraordinary opportunity for writers and authors to meet and learn from the best in the industry in a full day of teaching and review of sample writing on Tuesday.
  • CraftFest: A host of industry experts or phenomenal teachers helping writers and authors improve their craft or assist in advancing their careers in classroom-type settings of hour-long sessions throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday morning.
  • ConsultFest:
  • PitchFest: An incredible opportunity for writers to pitch their manuscripts to as many of the best agents, producers, and editors in the industry as they want on Thursday afternoon. (Note: Registration for PitchFest is an additional cost to either CraftFest, Master Class, or ThrillerFest and cannot be purchased as a stand-alone event for writers.)
  • ThrillerFest: A wonderful opportunity to meet the most successful and bestselling thriller authors in the world, starting with the Opening Night Cocktail Party on Thursday evening, and continuing with panels, interviews, and autograph sessions on Friday and Saturday.
  • The Thriller Awards Banquet, which is an added feature on the registration options, provides attendees a chance to see authors recognized by their peers for their work on Saturday night, the closing event. This is an amazing experience for both the readers and authors and should not be missed.

Various attendance packages are available that bundle options as discounted, single-priced events. Day passes are available for CraftFest and ThrillerFest.

Q: Tell me about ThrillerFest, the two days for readers and fans.

A: ThrillerFest kicks off on Thursday night at the Opening Cocktail Party, and then runs all day Friday and Saturday through the closing event, the separately priced Saturday Night Awards Banquet. Although it is a traditional conference in that the days are filled with author panels covering a variety of subjects and the nights are filled with cocktail parties and special events, ThrillerFest is unique in that so many of the most successful, bestselling authors attend and make themselves available to talk, sign autographs, and simply enjoy getting to know the readers.

Many readers attend the two-day event, as well as authors, agents, publishers, editors, the media, and other industry icons. One of the highlights of the conference is the one-on-one interviews with the famous authors who are our ThrillerMasters and Spotlight Guests. Coffee and soft-drink breaks are sponsored by a variety of publishers and organizations, who use the opportunity to promote their books and authors. The official release of the ITW anthologies and other special publications are part of the conference.

Fans have come to enjoy the countless opportunities to connect with their favorite authors by listening to them at panels and in interviews, by hanging out with them in the book room, at the bar, or at the many sponsored events by publishers, and by chatting with them during autograph sessions where authors make themselves available for photos and engrossing conversation with fans.

Q: Who are this year’s ThrillerMasters and Spotlight Guests and when can I hear them speak?

A: The schedule for this year’s special guests includes:

  • 2019 ThrillerMaster John Sandford
  • 2019 Silver Bullet Award recipient Harlan Coben
  • 2018 Silver Bullet Award recipient James Rollins
  • 2019 Thriller Legend Margaret Marbury
  • 2019 Spotlight Guest Lisa Unger
  • 2019 Spotlight Guest Stephen Hunter

Q: How do I get to learn about the debut authors or find authors who are new to me?

A: Not only do we host the Debut Author Class at breakfast with introductions from New York Times Best Selling Author Steve Berry on Saturday morning, a significant part of our programming on Friday and Saturday is dedicated to fifty-minute panels, where five or six authors discuss and sometimes debate different topics related to thriller subjects. Panels are often moderated by the authors’ peer and the spontaneous answers are fun and interesting to attend.

Whether the authors are new to the industry or new to you, the panels afford the traditional opportunity for readers to get to know authors at conferences. The generous manner in which ITW authors make themselves available throughout the conference by hanging around in the hallways, in the bookstore, or at sponsored events allows for individual interaction with attendees. Subjects and authors are on the website schedule.

Q: Several panels are scheduled at the same time. Can I go to all of them?

A: Several great subjects are discussed concurrently by panels and during interviews. The attendees are encouraged to sit in on any of the sessions as long as they’d like. By leaving a door open in the back of the room, the attendees are welcome to come and go to any and all of the sessions throughout the day. Stay as long as you wish. Visit as many as you’d like. It’s entirely up to you. If you miss a workshop, the CD for that session is available to purchase at a table in the book room.

Q: How are the panelists chosen for ThrillerFest?

A: Authors who are ITW Members sign up for the event and check the box at registration indicating their interest in being on a panel. While the organizers cannot guarantee placement on a panel due to the overwhelming number of ITW authors interested in being on one, Kimberley Howe will submit the author’s name to the panel committee, who do their best to accommodate all ITW authors.

Q: Who are the people running this event?

A: Kimberley Howe is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest. She is amazing and handles the day-to-day challenge of making this event happen. She works closely with Jessica Johns – Conference Coordinator; Jillian Stein – Social Media Director; Dennis Kennett – Registrar; D.P. Lyle, MD – CraftFest Director; and Sandra Brannan – PitchFest Director. Kimberley works under the direction of the ITW board of directors, the wonderful and talented authors who continue to find ways to make this event great for writers and readers alike.

There are more than a dozen volunteer committee chairs, who handle everything from event planning to marketing to selling ads in the program books to getting the posters in the right place at the right time. Be sure to volunteer when you come to ThrillerFest, as it’s a great way to meet people. And authors should keep in mind that the goal of ITW is authors helping others advance their career, which means volunteering and being available to help others throughout the conference.

Q: When is the schedule of authors and subjects posted, so I know where I should be?

A: As time draws near to July, the schedule of events for ThrillerFest will be posted on the website. Check back regularly for details.


Q: What is the awards banquet all about?

A: On Saturday, July 13, 2019, please join us at the annual Saturday night banquet where we will honor 2019 ThrillerMaster John Sandford, present the Thriller Awards, and offer other fabulous entertainment. There will be a cocktail party before the dinner and an after-party following the dinner. During the banquet, the key people who make this organization work are introduced. The highlight of the night is hearing from our ThrillerMaster and of course finding out who wins the coveted Thriller Awards, which are given every year for the best thriller books in hardcover, paperback original, debut, e-book original, and other categories. The nominees for each category for the Thriller Awards are on the ThrillerFest website, thanks to Anthony Franze, the VP of Awards and all their volunteers who read, judge, and choose the winners.

Q: Are there two cocktail parties, one before and one after the Awards Banquet?

A: On Saturday night before the banquet, attendees join the cocktail party held outside the banquet hall. After the awards banquet, the event shifts venue to an after-party—and it’s all included in the price of the banquet registration. It’s a tremendous evening of fun and excitement and an incredible opportunity to chat with the best in the industry and your favorite authors.

Tickets for the Thriller Awards Banquet must be purchased separately from other events and can be purchased through Registration on the ThrillerFest website.

Q: Do I have to dress up?

A: You certainly don’t have to dress up. Some people wear jeans or other casual clothes. But the vast majority of folks do dress up. Most men wear suits and ties, and a few wear tuxes. Most women wear cocktail dresses, and a few wear gowns or pants outfits. It’s an opportunity to look as good as you feel, and most people take advantage. Again, there’s no dress code, but be forewarned that only a few will dress casually.

Q: Is the ThrillerFest Awards Banquet the last event of the conference?

A: The five-day event ends with the post-banquet cocktail party Saturday night, so say your goodbyes until next year.

Q: Where do I sign up?

A: Register for any and all events for the ThrillerFest week on the website: Click on ‘Registration’. We’d love to see you there. Thank you for reading!