ThrillerFest – Return on Investment

There are many book/author conferences each year that are fun to attend, but if you’re like me, you can really only afford to attend so many.  Due to budget or time, I need to pick and choose each conference carefully.  It’s important to me that I have a goal for each conference or convention so that there’s a return on my investment.

I would like to take a look at the importance of investing in conferences and then I’ll circle back to where ThrillerFest fits into all of this.



Some events are inexpensive and only last the weekend.  Some are expensive and last a weekend.  Some last all week long.  “Cost” means different things to different people.  Obviously, the monetary cost, the registration and travel, are a factor.  But, time is an important commodity for a professional writer.  So, travel, commitments to do workshops or be on panels, networking, attending workshops or panels, all of that takes away from time you could be writing or promoting your writing.

As a professional writer you should be budgeting your time just as you budget your money.  Your return on investment isn’t as simple as investing money in the hope that you’ll sell some books.  Return on investment also includes a time factor.  Networking, the time you invest into people, can give you a far greater return than selling a few books at the book signing.

Know what you are spending; both your money and time, and know what potential returns on your investment can net for you.



How do you know that you got your return on investment?  How do you know it was worth it to pay the registration, travel and time for a conference or convention?  The answer?  Did you meet your goals?

Each conference affords different opportunities.  Research the conference; who is attending? what panels and workshops are of interest? what networking can be done?

For ThrillerFest, an author has some of the top bestselling authors in the genre sharing time, knowledge and experience during panels and workshops.  If you need to improve your craft, fine-tune it or validate your own ideas of craft, the authors at these panels/workshops have a proven record of success.  If you think you no longer need to improve your craft or learn about the industry, ThrillerFest may not be for you.  Most of the authors I’ve spoken to and the panels/workshops I’ve attended are for those who are consistently wanting to be better at what they do.  Even top best selling authors realize growth is key to success.


If you want to be a better writer, this conference can most certainly help you with that.  So, perhaps your goal is simply to improve your craft and learn from successful professionals.  So look at the panels and workshops and choose what you think will help you improve.

If you are interested in the journey other authors have taken to get where they are, you may wish to attend some of the author interviews.  Attend panels specific to this topic where you can ask questions.  Email an author you admire and find out if they have time during the event to give to you so you can ask them about their experiences.  Be certain you are prepared with your questions when you meet them, limit your time to what they can afford to give, be gracious and appreciative and thank them.

If you are hoping to get someone to blurb your book, look at your first chapter, know you on social media, or if you’re just looking to surround yourself with professionals or make friends with people who understand you, ThrillerFest may be the #1 conference I attend for networking.  The authors and industry people there are extremely approachable and sincerely want to see you succeed.  The feeling of camaraderie is genuine and there are so many authors who mentor or just make themselves available.  Make a list of people you’d like to at least meet, or some you’d like photos with, or perhaps challenge yourself by saying you’ll meet 20 new people during the conference as a goal.

Sheila English and Lee Child
Sheila English and Lee Child

If you’re a new author, International Thriller Writers (ITW), the organization that puts on ThrillerFest each year, has a debut author program that is extremely active and helpful to first time authors.


If your goal was to improve your craft and you attended workshops/panels that taught you something, then you can add that to your “goals met” column and consider that a return on investment.

If you learned from an author you admired, met a number of other authors, networked and extended your circle of professional colleagues, then you’ve achieved your goals and met your return on investment.

Military Thriller Panel
Military Thriller Panel



There are many conferences out there and many are thriller/mystery/suspense specific.  They are an easy weekend or much less expensive.  But, the quality of the workshops and opportunities at ThrillerFest set this conference apart.  It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge, your professional outreach and your potential.  This conference is an investment in your career.


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