Welcome to the Thrillerfest V Blog!

We hope you'll bookmark us, just as you bookmark so many of the hundreds of the International Thriller Writers that participate in our annual conference, held in New York City in July.

ITW is a youthful organization, always ready for a new way of looking at things. You'll find that dynamism here, in blog posts from authors, agents, editors and Thrillerfest attendees, past and present.

And that same excitement you feel from your favorite reads is evident in everything ITW does, and no wonder--the organization, staffing and publicity for ThrillerFest--including this new blog--is undertaken by volunteers, most of whom are ITW authors themselves.

So pull up a chair and stay awhile ... discover the latest news on what Thrillerfest V--the fifth anniversary of the conference--has to offer. Visit old friends, make new ones, ask questions, and hear about the remarkable things in store for the conference.

Whether or not you can come see us in New York--and we hope that you can!--please join us here. It's gonna be ... a thriller!

Kelli Stanley, Thrillerfest Publicity Committee Chair

Thrillerfest Publicity Committee:
Jeannie Holmes
CJ Lyons
Carla Buckley
Grant McKenzie

Monday, June 28, 2010

Celebrate Craft: Do you fall into the Muddle-in-the-Middle Trap?

Celebrate the Craft! - from the Write by You blog

When attempting to write a novel—that is, fiction that's book-length, say 80,000 words or so—some novice writers never get past the first few chapters. All of the excitement and enthusiasm they felt when inspiration grabbed them by the throat and shouted, "You must write this story!" suddenly leaves them high and dry. Sure, you have a good idea where the story needs to end. That's part of the reason you're writing--to share that fantastic scene you envision near the end of your tale that blows away your readers. But how to get from Point A to Point Z?

Although most writers recognize the danger of running out of steam in the middle of a book, those who are experienced realize that a lot of work is done in those central chapters. In fact, if you do all you should as a novelist, there's so much material for you to play with, you need to choose carefully to avoid stuffing too much into one story. Here are six tips you can use to keep your novel on track, moving forward, and holding your readers' attention without wandering, repeating information, or padding with unnecessary scenes.

1. Further develop the main character(s). Instead of dumping details about your characters' personalities, childhood, education, jobs, or friends and family at the beginning of your novel, save these for the middle. By now you've hooked your reader with strong writing, active scenes and conflict that readers will want to see resolved. Now, you can use conversations, flash-back scenes, or a character's thoughts to reveal more about what makes this character tick. You'll enrich your paper people and create an even stronger bond between reader and character.
2. Move the plot forward by increments that feel natural. Instead of leaping from conflict revealed in the beginning to conflict resolved (resulting in a far-too-short book), give the characters time to work things out for themselves (with a little help from you). This creates a much more realistic feeling story and will help avoid the dreaded deus ex machina conclusion. (In a children's book God takes the form of Mom or Uncle Joe, who supplies the solution to the child's problem.) Readers generally want their favorite characters to resolve their own problems.
3. Steadily increase the level of conflict and tension by making things worse, then even worse again for the central character. When the same problem occurs over and over throughout the story, the reader becomes immune to the danger, threat, or issue at hand. Using the middle of the story to "up the stakes" will guarantee your readers will stick around to see how their favorite character handles the ever-more-complex crisis.
4. Details make the story, but writers often forget to continue filtering them throughout the book. You may have described Main Street or the family homestead in Chapter 1, but by the middle of the book several days may have passed for the reader. Work, family demands, interruptions of all sorts may have wiped away the vision of the story's setting that you worked so hard to create in early chapters. Now you need to refresh the reader's mind. And my returning to a particular setting in your story, you strengthen the reader's belief that it might actually exist. However, never stop the forward motion of the plot to spend a few pages of solid description. Some readers simply skim passages that seem to have nothing happening in them, that are simply picture windows into the setting. Better to weave details through active scenes and keep the plot moving forward.
5. If you get lost in the middle of your story and don't know what should happen next, or you have written yourself into a corner, return to your plot outline. If you didn't write one, now is an excellent time to take a short break and brainstorm possible scenes, complications and solutions for your mid-story. Relax, pour yourself your favorite beverage, sit down in a comfy chair and write down everything that comes to mind without censoring yourself. In fifteen or twenty minutes you may come up with a dozen or more possibilities. The next day, look over your list of ideas. Some will be off the wall, not at all useful, and you can eliminate them. But there will be a few gems. Recharging your muse in this way will usually break you out of your block and give you new fuel for those middle chapters.
6. Reach out for support. Sometimes we need to know what's working and what isn't. We lose confidence and need someone to tell us we're on track and need to keep going, or there really is something wrong that needs fixing. Finding a writer's organization, critique group, professional writing mentor, or another author willing to partner up with you can be just the help you need to urge you on toward completion of your novel. Many published authors today rely on a personal support system they've developed for those times when they become too close to the book to make effective decisions about one or more elements.

Remember, writing to completion is important. To sell a novel you need more than a great idea. You have to get it down on paper—all of it—before you can hope to interest an editor or literary agent. Fight your way through that nasty middle by using the skills above, and you'll soon arrive that that exciting climax scene you've been dying to write! Happy writing, all--Kathryn

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sample the Thrill - Terror's Reach by Tom Bale

One of many great articles that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

A burning summer's day explodes into violence. A murderous gang targets the exclusive south coast island of Terror's Reach, home to rival business tycoons Robert Felton and Valentin Nasenko. The residents are facing annihilation, and only one man stands a chance of saving them. Four years ago, after an undercover police operation went disastrously wrong, CID officer Joe Clayton lost his career and his family. Forced to adopt a new identity, he drifted from place to place and ended up on the Reach, working as a bodyguard to Nasenko's wife, Cassie, and her children. Now he must draw upon all his experience and reserves of strength to keep them alive. But nothing is as it seems on Terror's Reach, and a long night of betrayal and murder leaves Joe fighting for his own survival...

Praise for SKIN AND BONES: "This is a mystery and a thriller that is satisfying on every level. This book gave me chills." -- JON JORDAN, CRIMESPREE

"What truly sells SKIN AND BONES is Bale's almost cinematic storytelling style, along the lines of what Lee Child does with his Jack Reacher series." -- JIM WINTER, JANUARY MAGAZINE

Tom Bale is the author of SKIN AND BONES. He lives with his family in Brighton, England.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


By Avery Aames (the alter ego for Daryl Wood Gerber)

Do you like riding on a rollercoaster?

I love it! I love the thrill of not knowing what comes next. I crave spinning upside
down, twisting to the right, the left, going through a dark tunnel, a plummeting drop, a loop-the-loop. Crave it. But I also like knowing that the rollercoaster creator spent hours—hopefully years—designing that ride and personally tested it out hundreds of times. I want to know that the designer rode, feet dangling, nose facing the ground, seeing that pavement below. I want the designer to be darned sure that the rollercoaster won’t collapse right at that very second. That took planning. Lots and lots of planning.

Why am I writing about a rollercoaster? Because designing a rollercoaster is like
designing a book. If the designer (i.e. author) doesn’t have a clue where the story is going, then the book can have sags and false starts and even plummet before its time.

Yes, I love writing with an outline. I know that puts me in about one-half the population of writers. Many enjoy writing by the seat of their pants, but I like an outline. I prefer to know where the story starts and ends. I enjoy plotting out the turns, the act points, the highs and lows. I need to know how all the clues play out. I have to know all the red herrings ahead of time so I can plant them well. In the case of my current book, The Long Quiche Goodbye, the first in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, I also planned where I was going to include thrilling cheeses and intriguing points of interest in Ohio and the quaint town of Providence. The fine-tuning is in the details. It’s like creating a recipe for success.

However, let’s return to the rollercoaster analogy ride for a second. I must admit that I like NOT knowing, too. You know what I mean. I don’t want my readers to guess every story turn I write. I want them thrilled, surprised. That’s why an author needs to be flexible and allow the outline to change. You read me right. An outline can change. Because when a surprise happens, and you know it’s the RIGHT surprise, then an author has to grasp it and believe it’s the right change to make. For me, an outline is like having a road map that shows the route to one destination, but along the way, I might decide to take the scenic route. Stop off at that little town to the east, have lunch, buy a trinket-- have a brawl with a villain or find a body--and get back on the road.

The value of an outline is the comfort I get when I know where the end of the road is. I know who did it and why and what justice will be served.
But what happens if who did it changes along the way, you ask? [Ahem.] Yes, that’s happened to me, too. I started out KNOWING that one character killed another, until surprise!, I discovered it was not one but a gang. Not a woman, but a man. Not the husband, but the ex-boyfriend. Does that shred my outline? Not necessarily. That’s when I go back and re-outline. I create a graph that makes sure I didn’t leave IN a red herring that now doesn’t belong. I make sure that the twist I took to get the original story to point A is now a twist to take me to point B.
I outline because I don’t like to feel lost. I’m not James Bond. Heck, I’m not even Laura Croft, Tomb raider. I don’t feel comfortable if I’m in the dark without a flashlight…or a weapon…and I hear a crackle, a footstep, and then feel heavy breathing down my neck. {By the way, a deadline can often breathe heavily down one’s neck. Ever felt that?}

But I do like a rollercoaster--the faster and steeper, the better.
Do you like writing with an outline? Why? Or better yet, why not? What’s the advantage for you? Have you ever tried it the other way?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrate the Craft!: Writing; The Temporary Career

Celebrate the Craft! - from the Newbie's Guide to Publishing blog

I'm not going to name names in this post. Partly because it would be mean. Partly because I'm only speculating on the reasons why, and have no real proof.

But I still wanted to talk about something that's rampant in the word of publishing. It's also rampant in other media like radio, TV, movies, and music.

It's Where Are They Now Syndrome.

The scariest thing about WATNS is how quickly it seems to occur. When my first novel, Whiskey Sour, was published in 2004, I did as much self-promotion as I could. Going to writing conventions, signing at bookstores and libraries, I met dozens of writers who also had new books out. Some were debut authors, like me. Some were veterans who seemed like they'd be around forever.

But here it is, a scant four and a half years later, and I can name more than thirty of these authors who didn't publish anything in the past year, and in some cases the past two years.

This boggles my mind.

While everyone is aware of the transitory nature of fame (it's particularly noticeable in Hollywood where A list actors fade into B list actors, and B list actors sometimes have a huge hit that makes them A list) I actually never thought it applied to writers as well.

Well, it does. With one major difference. When you're considered a B list author, you can't even give your work away. There's no straight-to-DVD or movie-of-the-week option like there is for actors who used to be Somebody. There are some smaller presses, yes. And while a lot of them are terrific, their lack of major distribution dollars means even smaller numbers for writers who once were published by the major houses, which means the major houses will be even less likely to give these writers another shot.

In thinking about this phenomenon, I was tempted to rationalize why so-and-so hasn't had a book deal in a while. Yes, numbers follow authors. But maybe there are other reasons too.

Perhaps some authors decided they just didn't want to write anymore. Perhaps some veered off into different territory and couldn't find a home for it. Perhaps some wanted to write, but were out of ideas. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances like sickness, or some personal or family tragedy. Perhaps some simply take a very long time to write a book. Perhaps work or some other aspect of real life got in the way.


And yet, knowing what a struggle it is to find an agent and get published, it seems odd that so many writers--writers I did signings with only four years ago--would let anything prevent them from writing. This profession requires dedication and sticktoitivness, and the lessons learned early on in the career when rejections are plentiful tend to make a person battle-hardened. Writers, as a species, don't tend to give up easily.

Which makes WATNS all the more troubling.

There are writers who had the brass ring, and want to have it again, but for whatever reason can't seem to grasp it.

Battle-hardened does not equal bullet-proof.

It's tempting to blame the industry, which is flawed for many reasons. A book's success is often a self-fulfilling prophecy; big promotional dollars leads to more orders leads to more sales. Do bestsellers really sell so well because of name recognition, or because when you're at an airport or drugstore and want to buy a book you only have the choice of a dozen titles? If a lessor name writer was given wider distribution, naturally they would sell more books. Yet few are given this push.

But I also personally know a few authors who did get that big push. In some cases, six and seven figure advances and corresponding marketing dollars. And here it is, a few years later, and those books are already out of print.

It's tempting to blame the writer, for producing lackluster work, or failing to self-promote, or being difficult to work with. And yet I've read many out-of-print novels that I believe are just as good or even better than books in their thirtieth printing by name authors who do very little self-promotion. I also know a few successful authors who are real jerks, and that hasn't seemed to hurt their careers.

There's a mentality that once you land a deal with a major house, you're set. But the fact is (and get ready for the kick in the groin) the majority of people who get a major deal wind up as WATHS statistics.

I can look at my extensive personal library, and 90% of those books are out of print, and 60% of those authors haven't published anything in years.

Landing a major deal, in most cases, doesn't signal the start of a longtime career. For many, it's the beginning of the end.

I can guess what many regular readers of my blog are thinking. Okay Joe, now that you've presented the problem, tell us what we can do to fix it like you always do.

Well, frightening as it is, this is one problem I can't fix.

I'd love to be able to point a finger and conclusively say, "This is why she's still being published, and this is why he isn't." But I can't. There are no traits or commonalities that can accurately predict success or failure.

After a certain level of competency is reached, who gets published and who doesn't is pretty much based on luck. This is true for newbies, and remains true for writers who have been in the biz for years.

All we can do is persevere, and keep writing and self-promoting and doing our damnedest to survive. Because, depressingly enough, this career is more about survival than success.

But, as I've been saying for years, the harder you try, the luckier you seem to get.

So if anyone with WATNS is reading this, remember that giving up isn't an option. Yes, you've gotten some bad breaks. Yes, this business is woefully unfair. Yes, it doesn't make any sense at all. But the same dedication that got you published that first time must be used to get you published again.

I know we all believe that once you "make it" there is no longer any struggle, the fears go away, and the opportunities are boundless.

But the truth is the struggle never ends, the fears are always there, and every opportunity that comes along should be appreciated as the gift it actually is.

So the rules, for newbie and pro alike, are the same.

1. Write the best book you can.

2. Try your best to get it into the hands of as many people as possible.

3. Repeat.

That's all we can do. Beyond that, it's all luck.

Just don't forget rule 3. The longer I'm in this business, the more I think it's the one that separates the haves from the have nots.

Now quit your whining and get to work.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sample the Thrill: Blood Song by Cat Adams

One of many great articles that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

C.E. Lawrence recently chatted with Cathy Clamp, one half of the writing team of Cat Adams about their new thriller BLOOD SONG.

Your website says you write "as a team." How did you meet and when did you realize you'd work well together?

Cie Adams and I met while we both worked at a law office in Denver, Colorado. Cie was the writer. I wasn't. Actually, I had no inclination to write when we met, but we would walk for exercise at lunch and talk about her book plots. It turned out I was pretty good at spotting logic gaps or suggesting subplots. She suggested I try my hand at writing and it seemed like something fun. I started with an X-Files tie-in (I call it a tie-in rather than fanfic because at the time they really were publishing X-Files novels.) Once I discovered no agent alive would take on a tie-in as a debut novel, I tried an original novel---an historical novel about an event in Colorado history. She told me it was accurate, but . . . well, sort of dry and lifeless. She suggested a feel-good, emotional subplot that was a lot of fun. When it got accepted for publication by a niche Colorado press, I felt sort of guilty. The editor had specifically mentioned the subplot she helped me with. What do you do about that? Say "Thanks"? Buy her dinner? Give her money? We decided that we were offering so many suggestions on each other's books we might as well co-author and share the money and the work. And "a team" was born!

What are some of the pros and cons of collaboration?

The pros are you can do twice as much work in half as much time. And you get to earn money when you haven't actually done any work. Yay! The cons are you have to share your world and accept input even when you like what you wrote, and have to share money when you've done ALL the work. But it evens out, and once you accept that the co-author is equally talented and wants to create a BETTER book, it's all good.

Why do you think vampires are so hot right now?

I think the biggest reason vampires are hot is that they're NOT real. There's so much pain and fear and sadness in much of the world that readers can revel in a world where the stakes are higher, the baddies are evil and the good guys have an edge. But the best part is when the book is over, you can close the cover and it doesn't affect your real life. Nothing changes, nobody is undead and the world goes on. How much better can fiction get?

Who do you see as the target audience for your books?

Well, most of our prior books are paranormal romance which are most definitely for adults. But our upcoming June release, BLOOD SONG, the first book of the Blood Singer series, is very different. Not only are we moving to the Science Fiction and Fantasy shelves (from romance) but the book will appeal to Young Adult readers. That's not to say it's shelved in YA, or the protagonist is--but the books are YA-friendly. The heroine is just out of college but still attending classes, there's romance IN the book, but nothing overtly sexual and the characters are real and deal with many of the same emotions and situations that other YA books out there are. Early readers are comparing the new series to the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series, and we agree that those same readers will enjoy this new series.

I see you belong to a number of organizations, including ITW and RWA, among others. What do you see as the main attraction of membership for a writer in these groups?

The main attraction of organizations like ITW, RWA and SFWA is comraderie and industry knowledge. Yes, there are plenty of "writer websites" out there. I'm a member of several. But it's nice to have a place where you can ask stupid questions about the next level of publishing from people who have been there and meet people who enjoy writing the same things as you. While I was at the RT BOOKlovers convention, I ran into another thriller writer (RT isn't just for romances anymore! There were plenty of thriller writers there) and we got to talking about morgues. I mean, how often do you run into someone who works at a morgue? It's not something that comes up in casual conversation anywhere else. Very fun!

What's the most surprising or unusual thing that >ever happened to you while writing (these books or any of >your previously published work)?

Probably the most surprising thing was when I first started writing and was foolish enough to make the mistake of submitting the manuscript for the historical fiction when I had only three chapters written. I had it in my mind that NO publisher ever responded before six months went by, and by then I'd have the book completed. WRONG! Oh so wrong. I got a letter the next week, saying he loved the samples and had a slot just open up in his spring line because another author pulled a book. If I could get it to him by the end of the month, it would hit the shelf in a mere six months. Except . . . um, I wasn't done. LOL! I had eighteen days to get the manuscript into his hands. And yes, I did it. But it was an UGLY eighteen days--just ask my husband.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers in your field or genre?

Don't repeat my mistake. Finish the book, edit the book, polish the book and THEN submit. You don't want to be in a position to disappoint an editor if you just happen to get a lucky break.

C.E. Lawrence's debut thriller, Silent Screams, recounts NYPD criminal profiler Lee' Campbell's dark journey into the mind of a serial killer. (Kensington Press). She has just completed the sequel, Scorned, to be released in 2010.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tweeting at ThrillerFest 2010

The schedule has been posted and speakers assigned! There are some awesome keynotes, guests and topics! And if you Tweet we encourage you to use #ThrillerFest 2010 so we can find you!
I will be Tweeting daily to let you know what's on the schedule and who! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @thrillerwriters

CraftFest starts on Wednesday and runs through Thursday with ThrillerFest starting on Friday and running through Saturday and ending with the evening banquet and Thrillernaster Ken Follett and the awards ceremony. Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Celebrate Craft! : The Killer

Celebrate the Craft! - from the Thriller Guy blog

Back when Thriller Guy was writing movie scripts he read an interesting piece of advice on how to craft a good action/adventure film. Scripts are short (each page equals one minute of screen time, hence around 100 to 120 pages) and they are traditionally divided up into three acts. To understand this soon-to-be-revealed piece of advice, you should know the screenwriting definition of the word “whammie.” A whammie is anything exciting, usually an explosion, car chase, gunfight, anything that gets the viewer's blood pumping. Here's the advice on how to structure your script:

Act One: Whammies.

Act Two: More Whammies.

Act Three: All Whammies.

With his recently published The Killers, Tom Hinshelwood has written a thriller that is all whammies.

The primary elements are not all that unusual – a CIA traitor, hired killer, beautiful agency operative, Russian spies, and an espionage coup of invaluable proportion, betrayals and double crosses – but what he does with them is a steely, joy to read: a thriller that kicks butt from beginning to end without any sag in the middle, no fussy romantic entanglements, no cliched backstory that attempts to explain the psychological origins behind the ongoing mayhem. This book slams into gear from the first pages and roars along till it smashes into the end. Terrific.

Victor is a hired killer who is coldly efficient. He's doing a hit on a Latvian national, killing the man and retrieving a small flash drive. When Victor heads back to his hotel he has to fight his way through a gang that suddenly attacks him. From then on legions of other hit men try to take his life, eventually culminating in an assassins duel between Victor and another hired killer, Reed, who may or may not be his equal.

There's a scene soon after Reed is introduced where he is attacked, randomly, by a gang of street punks. Thriller Guy loves these scenes which are often found in thrillers. The street gang shows up, hones in on the professional, and you just know what is going to happen. Here, the leader of the punks demands that Reed hand over his wallet, phone and watch:

Reed's expression remained blank. “Why?”
“Say what?”
In that moment when confusion combined with anxiety, Reed grabbed the outstretched arm before him, wrapping his left hand around the wrist and pulling the kid forward sharply, directing the gun away to the side. He took hold of the kid's triceps with his free hand and twisted the wrist in his grip, locking the arm. He wrenched it downward, hard – against the joint – snapping the arm at the elbow and into an inverted V.
The gun clattered on the asphalt and the awful wail momentarily stunned the others. Reed released the wrist and the kid collapsed. Among the screams he managed to find his voice.
Reed sprang forward toward the other drawn gun, knocked the weapon aside as it was raised to fire, using his forward impetus to multiply the force of the elbow he sent into the kid's face. His head snapped backward, blood splashing from his mouth and the kid went down heavy, out cold, jaw broken.
The other youth armed with a gun backed off, palms showing, eyes wide, head shaking. Reed ignored him, heard the click of a switchblade opening, turned, sidestepped as his attacker lunged and overextended himself into empty air, stumbling, completely off balance, arms flailing.
The next one came from behind, his feet scraping on the ground. Reed whipped round, threw the edge of his hand into the guy's throat. He fell down convulsing.
Two more attacked at the same time, one wielding a hunting knife with a four-inch blade, the other a crowbar. The crowbar came at him first, from the left, swinging for his head. Reed caught it and the attacker's hand together, redirected it downward, using the kid's momentum against him to twist the bar from his fingers and into Reed's own.
He smashed an elbow into the youth's side, knocking him backward, as the youth gasped, ribs cracked. Reed followed through with the crowbar, backhanding it into the side of his attacker's skull. Blood splashed on faces in the crowd.
The hunting knife passed within inches of Reed's face, a wild swing, clumsy. Reed dodged backward, waiting for the next attack, used his forearm as a shield to turn the blade aside and the crowbar to sweep his attacker's feet out from under him and drove it down into the kid's face, exploding his nose across his cheeks.
The small youth with the switchblade recovered and yelled as he attacked again, a frenzied stab. Reed dodged, invited another attack, and brought the crowbar down hard on the youth's exposed arm, shattering bones. He screamed and dropped the knife, wrist and hand hanging limply from mid-forearm. Reed reversed his grip on the crowbar, swung it upward, cracking the youth under the jaw, the force lifting him off his feet and dropping him back to the ground in a silent heap.
It was all over in less than seven seconds.

This is pretty much just a throwaway scene, tossed in for the sheer, exuberant love of havoc. Hinshelwood cranks this stuff out by the ream, making it look easy when TG can assure all you writers, published and unpublished, out there, it isn't. It's da** hard to do a few times, much less over and over the course of the entire book. And without repeating himself, without, dare I say it, becoming gratuitous. Whenever a butt kicking comes, it is always well deserved and functions to move the plot forward. The point of the above scene: don't screw around with Reed. If you do he will kill you.

TG will contact Hinshelwood and see if he'll donate a signed book to the first one of TG's readers who requests a copy. Maybe TG will do a small interview and find out where the man learned to write and to kick butt. So let TG know if you want a copy. And remember, all you Thriller Writers:


In the end, it's all about the whammies.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Celebrate Craft: Top Ebook Questions

Celebrate the Craft! - from the Newbie's Guide to Publishing blog

I'm getting creamed with email lately, mostly from writers asking questions about ebooks. I wish I had time to individually answer all of them, but I'm on deadline and can't. So here are the most common questions I'm getting, and my responses.

Q: Should I publish on Kindle?

A: That depends on your goals. Kindle and ebooks are no more a guaranteed success than any other type of publishing. If you want to be widely read, and have the potential for earning a lot of money, find an agent. If your agent can't sell your book, or if you have out of print books, I highly recommend self-pubbing on Kindle and Smashwords.

Q: I've tried to get an agent. They keep rejecting me.

A: Perhaps your writing isn't strong enough yet. Are you sure you want to release a book that may not be ready?

Q: How do I format for Kindle?

A: Contact Rob Siders at www.52novels.com. He's fast, reasonable, and very good.

Q: Who does your covers?

A: My artist is a friend of mine named Carl Graves. He's at cgdouble2(at)sbcglobal.net. Tell him I sent you. Expect to pay around $300 for a cover, though the price fluctuates depending on your needs.

Q: What do I do to promote my Kindle ebooks?

A: I post at www.kindleboards.com whenever I have a new release. That's pretty much all the promo I do. But I'm lucky to have a popular blog, and lots of folks who talk about me on the net. I also have a print backlist.

Q: Do you need to have a popular blog and a backlist to be successful on Kindle?

A: No. Many others have sold well without the platform I have. But you shouldn't ever compare yourself with other authors, or their sales. Your mileage will vary.

Q: What are the most important things to keep in mind when uploading a book to Kindle?

A: 1. A professional cover and professional formatting. 2. A good product description. 3. A price between 99 cents and $2.99. 4. A good book.

Q: Are ebooks going to take over traditional publishing?

A: Eventually. But print will be around for a while.

Q: I was offered a print deal. But you say I should keep my erights, but my publisher won't let me keep them. What should I do?

A: Right now, I'm selling about 230 ebooks a day. In July (when the royalty rate changes to 70%), I'll be making about $470 a day on Kindle. I won't give up my erights unless a publisher can pay me more than that. But these are my numbers. Your numbers may be different. So you have to set your own goals and follow your own path. But be very wary about signing away erights.

Q: What about iPad, Sony, Kobo, and Nook?

A: Use www.smashwords.com. They'll upload to all of those, including Amazon, and take a small percentage. I have no idea how well I'm doing on these platforms yet, because Smashwords reports quarterly and I haven't gotten my numbers yet. I don't expect them to be anywhere near my Kindle numbers, but it's really early in the game. Who knows what the future holds?

Q: How did you get movie deals on your Kindle books?

A: The folks who bought the rights came to me. Then my agent made the deals. My agent is also currently working on selling foreign rights to my self-pubbed ebooks. Bottom line: get a good agent.

Q: Don't you think the ebook bubble is eventually going to burst?

A: If I maintain my current rate of sales, I'll earn $170,000 a year on ebook sales. That's just on the Kindle, and ebooks currently account for less than 6% of all book sales. What happens when ebooks account for 10%? Or 30%? What about platforms other than Kindle?

Eventually, there will be tens of millions of ereading devices out there, and I'm going to keep publishing new ebooks--many of them per year. I can envision a time in the future where I'm selling 500 or 1000 ebooks per day. If we predict that 40 million people will have ereaders in the year 2015, and I sold 1000 ebooks per day, it would take me over a hundred years to completely saturate that market. I'm not in any danger of maxing out my potential fanbase anytime soon.

Q: You seem to really be down on print publishers lately.

A: I love print publishers. But the traditional publishing industry is flawed, and I don't see any signs it will be fixed anytime soon. It used to be the only game in town. If you wanted to make a living as an author, you had to accept small royalties, no control, and a system dependent on others who may not have your best interests in mind. Not a healthy environment for an artist. While I've been extremely lucky in my career, I've also felt that I was at the mercy of a broken industry.

With ebooks, the majority of the money, and all the control, goes to the writer. That's incredibly liberating. I set my prices. I pick my titles. I choose the cover. I edit according to my taste. I'm not dependent on pre-sales or buy-ins. I'm not at the mercy of coop. I don't worry about returns. I don't have to tour, or advertise, or do all the crazy self-promotion I've done in the past. Distribution is no longer important. Going out of print is no longer a worry. I don't have to wait 12 to 18 months for the book I wrote to get into the hands of readers. I don't have to suffer because of someone else's mistakes. I don't have to try to fit a certain model. Past numbers don't matter. I'm not tied in to any contract. I get paid once a month, not twice a year. And I don't have to answer to anybody.

Ebooks truly are the greatest thing to happen to writers since Gutenberg.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!