success stories

Steve Urszenyi

If you’re on the fence about ThrillerFest or PitchFest, I highly recommend you get down off it. In fact, leap wildly into the void, because ThrillerFest is the real deal…

ThrillerFest is the real deal


I attended my first ThrillerFest in July 2018 with a completed manuscript and high hopes. In fact, registering for this writer’s conference was the push I needed to finish the novel I had been working on for four years. Knowing I had just spent good money to attend, I wasn’t going to go to New York without a completed—and hopefully polished—manuscript!

ThrillerFest exceeded my expectations, and then some. I was blown away by the camaraderie and sincere friendship of everyone there. Not just hopefuls like me, but seasoned, successful, published writers wanted to talk, to share success stories, to listen to my practice pitches, to offer valuable advice, to boost my confidence, and to assure me that they, too, had once been in my shoes.

I pitched my manuscript to six agents. All but one asked for some pages or the full manuscript to read and consider. I also began to query maybe a dozen more when I got home. I was hopeful. Soon, that hopefulness waned, though, and I came to understand that, although my story was good, I had some significant revisions to make. I went back to work on recreating my main character’s backstory and changing some story elements. I did this with the enthusiastic support of some friends I had made in New York and a professional editor I had hired for an objective viewpoint. I can’t stress that last point enough: having friends and family read your manuscript is essential, but having a practiced eye point out the holes in the story, or just suggest ways to make it so much better is vital.

So, undaunted and reinvigorated with my newly refreshed manuscript, I attended ThrillerFest again in 2019. This time, I decided to target only one agent. All my research and everything I had heard and seen suggested he would be the best agent to represent me and my work. So, I pitched him during PitchFest. He was excited by my pitch. I was excited that he was excited! He asked for a read of the whole manuscript, and four days after I sent it to him, he offered me representation! I am thrilled that I am now represented by John Talbot of The Talbot Fortune Agency.

Everybody’s path is unique. Some have success straight out of the gate. Others take a little more time. As has been said many times by smarter people, the only difference between an unpublished writer and a published writer is that the latter never quits.

If you’re on the fence about ThrillerFest or PitchFest, I highly recommend you get down off it. In fact, leap wildly into the void, because ThrillerFest is the real deal and, whether you sign with an agent your first time out or not, you will meet so many writers and others like yourself, learn so much, and come away as a renewed and rejuvenated writer, ready to tackle your next WIP! Good luck!

Steve’s debut novel, Perfect Shot, was published by Minotaur Books in November 2023, and his second Alex Martel thriller is set to be released in 2024.