Debut Authors Program Frequently Asked Questions

Q.   Am I eligible for the Debut Authors Program?

A.   To qualify for the Debut Authors Program, an author must satisfy the following four requirements:

  • The novel is the author’s first novel published in any format, anywhere; and
  • The novel has or will be published after the most recent ThrillerFest. For instance, the last ThrillerFest was held July 11-14, 2012 and therefore an author who applied for the Debut Authors Program and whose first novel was released before July 11, 2012 was eligible for the Program. Conversely, an author whose book was released before the year’s ThrillerFest (any time before July 11, 2012) but who did not apply to the Debut Program until after July 14, 2012 is not eligible for the Program. 

Q.   What if my publisher is not on the ITW-Recognized Publisher List?

A.   ITW’s list of Recognized Publishers is growing, and if you are published by a new or small press that is not yet included, please encourage them to apply by reading the guidelines here.

Q.   What if I’ve written other books?

A:   Well, you can write as many books as you want—we Debuts all know that the first book published isn’t always the first written!  But in order to be a Debut Author, you must have published or be about to publish your first novel-length work.  That means that publishing short stories or non-fiction does not preclude you from membership.

Q.   What is a Debut Author’s “Class Year”?

A.   ITW has divided the Debut Authors into Classes based on release dates, from ThrillerFest to ThrillerFest. The Class of 2012/2013, for instance, have first books published between July 15, 2012 (the last day of the 2012 ThrillerFest) and July 10, 2013 (the first day of the 2013 ThrillerFest). A Debut Author’s Class determines, among other things, the year in which the author is eligible to participate in the Debut Breakfast at ThrillerFest.

Q.   What are the benefits of joining the Debut Authors Program?

A.   There are several benefits, including:

  • The opportunity to receive media coverage concerning Debut Author events.  For instance, this year profiled the Class of 2011/12 and The Big ThrillLibrary Journal, and Suspense Magazineran stories as well.
  • Membership in the Debut Authors Discussion Forum and Mentor Forum.

The Discussion Forum is a private forum where debut authors share experiences, give one another advice, post notices about upcoming events, and build relationships. The Forum also has archived resources, including a Debut Survival Guide, advice on getting blurbs, and much more.

The Mentor Forum features established ITW members who appear in the Forum to answer questions. Recent events have included a two-hour Skype session with Lee Child, as well as monthly on-line forums with David Morrell, Douglas Preston, Gayle Lynds, Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, and other bestselling thriller writers.  Read about one of those events here.

  • A growing network and community, both with writers at just your stage, and with many of the greats in the business, which will provide support, resources, and opportunities at every stage of a career.
  • Social media support, including inclusion on The Big Thrill’s Debut Author page, the opportunity to post on our blog, The Thrill Begins, and social media guidance and advice from Debut members. 

Q.   Do Debut Authors ever get together in person?

A.   Yes.  Members of the Debut Authors Program have attended one another’s book events, met for social gatherings, and even helped with research. Members of the Program who attend ThrillerFest go out to dinner together to unwind from the rapid-fire pace of the conference. And, one of our members recently helped another get a VIP tour of the Pentagon and a tour of the U.S. Capitol by a senator’s chief of staff.

Q.   Does it cost anything to be a member of the Debut Authors Program?

A.   No.  As with ITW, there are no membership or other dues.  The Debut Authors Program does maintain a “sunshine fund” for any donation members may wish to make. Donations are completely voluntary and go toward thank-you gifts to Mentor Forum mentors and small expenses that arise.

Q.   How do I apply to the Debut Authors Program?

A.   You can apply in one of two ways.  First, when you apply to join ITW, the application form asks if you are a Debut Author.  If you check the box, the Debut Authors Committee will contact you.  Second, if you are already an ITW  member and want to join the Debut Authors Program, please just email our Membership Coordinator, Wendy Tyson.

Q.   What if I have more questions?

A.   Please contact a member of the Debut Authors Committee:

Amy Christine Parker, Chair:
Wendy Tyson, Membership:
Ed Aymar, Social Media:
Margery Brody, Social Media:
Cathy Perkins, Social Media:
Bryan Robinson, Discussion Forum: