June 17 – 23: “Is epublishing changing the world of thrillers? And, if so, how?”

This week we join ITW Members J. M. Leduc, Lisa von Biela, Daco Auffenorde and Colby Marshall as they discuss the changing world of thrillers: “Is epublishing changing the world of thrillers? And, if so, how?” You won’t want to miss this!


Mark Adduci, writing as J. M. LeDuc is a native Bostonian, who transplanted to South Florida in 1985. He shares his love and life with his wife, Sherri and his daughter, Chelsea. Blessed to have had a mother who loved the written word, her passion was passed on to him. It is in her maiden name he writes. J.M. LeDuc’s first novel, CURSED BLESSING, won a Royal Palm Literary Award in 2008 as an unpublished manuscript in the thriller category. It was published in 2010. He has subsequently written CURSED PRESENCE and CURSED DAYS, books two and three of the Trilogy of The Chosen, as well as a novella, PHANTOM SQUAD. He is a proud member of the Florida Writers Association (FWA) and the prestigious International Thriller Writers (ITW).

Lisa von Biela worked in Information Technology for 25 years, then left the field to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. She now practices law in Seattle, Washington. Lisa’s first short storyappeared in The Edge in 2002. Her short works have appeared in various small press venues, including Gothic.net, Twilight Times, Dark Animus, AfterburnSF, and more. THE GENESIS CODE is her first novel.

Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby Marshall has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, ensuring that she is a workaholic. She is also a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer and occasionally takes the stage as an actress. She lives in Georgia with her family, two mutts, and an array of cats that, if she were a bit older, would qualify her for crazy cat lady status.

When not practicing law with her husband at Auffenorde & Auffenorde, P.C., Daco writes novels and manages the busy lives of two children. Her education includes a B.A. and M.A.S. from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Her memberships include ITW, Romance Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Alabama State Bar.

  1. Well, speaking as the debut novelist I am, I think epublishing has made it a little easier for new writers to get their work out into the world. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. It may be easier to get out there, but you’re out there in a sea of other novels, all competing for readers.

    That said, I would think the lower price for a digital edition makes it more likely a reader would take a chance and try a new writer.

    My first novel is out in limited edition hardcover, paperback, and digital editions. I understand from my publisher, DarkFuse, that sales for the digital editions tend to far outstrip the paperbacks.

    I’ll be interested in what the other panelists have to say on this topic!

  2. To put it in surfer language: like yeah, like wowza brohah!

    ePublishing is changing the world of reads in all genres, including thrillers. Failing to offer a book in electronic download format puts a book—and author—behind the curve, instead of shreddin’ the gnarl. Publishers moving down the line are mushrooming around the globe with aggressive electronic-first platforms directed primarily at getting a read to the consumer without the delay of traditional print publishing. While some will offer print versions at some point, other publishers are bypassing the paper books altogether. From the moment I signed on the dotted line to sell my international spy thriller, THE LIBRA AFFAIR, to my ePublisher, ka-ching, my book was professionally edited and on the market in less than three months! Not the twelve, eighteen, or two-year wait.

    Like a zepherrr to the board, readers have voracious appetites. The first question a reader asks when finishing a good book is when does the next one come out? Or, like man, where do I cop some more of that? Like catching a wave, the faster a good read gets to consumers, the greater likelihood readers will stick around for the next wave. Forget the whoopsidangit moment when authors have to remind readers who they are and what they write between releases. Nor do authors have to resort to bogus newsletters to string readers along until releasing the next book. Okay, an announcement, two or three is fine, but clogging up inboxes month after month typically resorts in the overuse of the delete button. Dude, ePublishing offers a win-win situation as long as the read doesn’t get caught in a fish net or end up being a poor quality product.

    The electronic world is the way we communicate today. Whether we are chatting up a pal on the mobile, tweeting, texting, or surfing the web for the next great read. Like a board is to the survival of a surfer, our electronic devices—joined at the hip—have become our latest and greatest fashion apparel. We feel naked without them. From self-publishing to the traditional publishing models that include eBooks, ePublishing has exploded exponentially; it’s ripping the tide at the speed of light, which brings on the question of how we match readers to books. With so much choice, how does one book stand out from another? How does a book avoid being maytagged and not fall into a deep underwater canyon where it slowly and painfully submerges to a death pit of the million-plus rank on Amazon and Barnes & Noble? That answer lies somewhere between branding and getting out there to catch a wave.

    Every book, every thriller on the market needs to catch the electronic wave to stand any chance of staying on the board and sliding inside the totally rad green room, otherwise known as the NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST.

    Author of Thrillers at the Speed of Light & ITW’s featured debut author
    “A convoluted spy game, rather like a Jason Bourne movie!” ~ RT Book Reviews
    “Daco balances intrigue with romance.” ~ International Thriller Writers
    “A plot akin to hit silver screen action thrillers.” ~ Novels Alive TV
    “Very intense and action paced.” ~ Romance Novel News

    * Wowza means awesome. RippinH2O.com.
    * Brohah is a name for a cool guy or dude. Ibid.
    * Shreddin’ the gnarl is the ability to execute rapid repeated turns on a shortboard while riding a gnarly wave. Ibid.
    * Down the line, also on the line, is riding a wave along the length of it and ahead of the breaking part of the wave. Ibid.
    * Ka-ching is the sound you make when hitting the jackpot. Ibid.
    * Zepherrr is someone who loves to surf and loves the water. It also means awesome or sweet. Ibid.
    * Whoopsidangit is when you have a big mess up. Ibid.
    * Caught in a fish net is when a surfer is having a bad day and isn’t able to stay on the surf. Ibid.
    * Maytagged is wiping out and getting worked over by the whitewash. A double drag! Ibid.
    * Totally rad is short for radical, and means perfect or cool. Ibid.
    *Green room means being inside the hollow part of the wave called the tube where you are fully covered by the wave, every surfer’s dream. Ibid.

  3. I definitely thing e-publishing has changed the game for thriller writers. As Lisa points out, it’s a double-edged sword. Digital is not only great, but it’s necessary in today’s world. At the same time, I worry sometimes that books are becoming “worth” less to people than a cup of coffee. While free books and cheap books may reach more readers, for the traditionally published who aren’t setting their own price points, this could mean less books sold. I did a blog post on this a while back, and I’m torn, because it is both great and evil at the same time.

    Your Average Joe with a Kindle doesn’t understand why some e-books cost more than others. How can you blame him? If you’re in the industry, you spend lots of time thinking about book pricing and the division of money that goes into it. For him, though, it’s a book he’s going to download and read. Perhaps Joe “gets” the jacked up cost of a J.K. Rowling: because those big guys CAN. But when it comes to debut authors he’s never heard of, Joe Shmoe from Kokomo sees one debut author priced at $.99, another priced at $5.00. Which book is he more likely to buy?

    If traditional publishers want to compete, surely they can just lower their prices, right? Bonk! Nope, they can’t. The sales of these books have to pay a whole group of people from the editor to the cover designer to the distributor, agent, author… If $.99 books or free e-books are chosen over higher priced e-books—a necessary price hike for traditional publishers if both the author and publisher are to make money—traditionally published debuts will sell less.

    That gives way to my big fear: If traditional publishers can’t sell debut authors as easily, they will be less likely to take on new debut authors. They’ll fear failure and lack of sales, but the logistical truth is that for even the bravest publisher who wants to take risks on new debut authors, fewer sales mean less money they have to spend on new deals.

    That said, I love connecting with ebook readers online, and this platform gets new books into different corners of the world as well as opens up unique avenues to promote your books to people and groups who are avid readers of the thriller genre (as to where in brick and mortar bookstores, the clientele will be any and all book readers most of the time, online, you can find blogs and blogs of only thriller, mystery, and crime readers. Shazaam!)

  4. And there’s another benefit to epublishing: access. One of my readers is blind, and tells me the Kindle recently became compatible with her software, opening an entire world of reading to her. Indeed, she likely never would have read my book otherwise, and she really enjoyed it. Very cool to hear that from her.

  5. Lisa, I have a reader who is blind, as well, which is what spurred me to want to make the book available on audible. That’s cool to know that Kindle is compatible with those softwares, though!

  6. Colby, your quote: “That gives way to my big fear: If traditional publishers can’t sell debut authors as easily, they will be less likely to take on new debut authors.” rings very true in this new paradigm. On the other hand, there may be a beneficial caveat that I see traditional publishers grasping.

    If they play it smart, they can let nature weed out the new material and find the debut authors they want to promote to traditional formats by culling the self-pubbed ebook authors who are consistently doing well. If they keep their eyes on titles with a consistent track record, a certain number of reviews, and a solid sales history they can find authors that are more likely to turn a profit when tossed into the bigger marketing that trad publishers can provide with less risk of the book being a flop.

    Amazon itself does this with their various imprints, snatching self-pubbed ebooks that float to the surface and tread water on their own merit. When I started writing in 2006 I got several small advance offers from a few smaller presses and made it as far as the editorial board of at least one of the big-6 but got cut at the end. Frustrated with the process I self-pubbed the three titles I’d written when KDP came out and within a year of each book going live made many times more profit than any of the small advance offers I’d gotten and did get the audiobook versions picked up by a mid-sized press and then by Audible itself. All of my novels (four total) and one of my novellas have all spent time in the number one slot for their genres (military thrillers / spies & espionage) at Amazon.

    The strategy I’ve taken on now is to keep writing, submit to a few agents / editors, then self-publish if no bites are taken. With a decent fan-base this tack will at least maintain. And eventually someone with deep pockets will notice. At least that’s the plan.

  7. E-publishing is having a big impact on thrillers. It has opened up the market in many ways. E-publishing has had an impact on authors, readers and on cost.

    It has opened up the market to authors who may have gone under the radar of the big publishing houses. Through e-publishing, they are able to present their work to the masses through smaller houses or by self-publishing. It has also allowed well established authors to branch out in genres that their perspective publishers may not have wanted to venture.

    For the reader, e-publishing has opened their eyes to a much larger variety of writers and allowed them to possibly read outside of their comfort zone and thereby expand their choices.

    Finally, e-publishing has changed the price-point in the industry. Because the cost of e-books is relatively inexpensive, both the reader and the author have benefited. My hope is that the price stays where it’s at and that it stops creeping upward (but that’s a topic for another day).

    In my opinion, e-publishing has been a positive addition to the world of thriller novels for the entire industry,from the writer, to the reader and finally to the cost.

  8. Your comment reminded JM that not only are established authors able to branch into different genres, but they are potentially able to expand on existing works by self-publishing short stories and novellas that build their already established characters. James Scott Bell and John Gilstrap among many others have recently taken to this to help develop back story for the characters in their traditionally published novels.

  9. The gatekeepers to the big six will always be in place. If an author wants to position him or herself in that market, debut or veteran, they are still required to have the quality product that this market seeks. Big companies, big costs. More profit? To who? I would argue that depending upon the marketing model, all the big boys are turning to eBooks to go on sale with the line up of their other products, namely print.

    ePub has opened the door to smaller presses that can focus primarily on this medium of delivery and still produce an excellent product, the same as the big six. They can be competitive with the big boys. Dollars and cents may have a lot to do with whether a book hits the bestseller list, or the savvy social media buff.

    More and more readers are turning to the eBook. Why? Cheaper and convenient. Books can be downloaded to phones, Kindles, and whatever device you carry. Easy for travel, carpool lines, and doctor office waits. Until a Sociologist does a study or we see the marketing spreadsheets of the publishers, narrowing down which genres such as Thrillers may fare better than others is a little tricky. Perhaps Amazon and B&N bookstores could shed some light on which types of books are purchased more so in the eBook format versus print.

    Great point about the KDD, Basil, it can really make or break a book that doesn’t already have the backing of promotional dollars to climb the charts. Recently, a publicist said that there are over 2 million books launching every year. That number adds up to a lot of books out there. ePublishing has opened the door to everything anyone wants to put out there (and not all self-publishing is bad product), the difficulty we face is quality. Perhaps reviews, previews will eliminate some of the junk–each to their own.

    Another good point was made about branching out and changing up the game with short stories and novellas that might not otherwise be published.

    At a recent readers luncheon, a colleague author said in his opinion in the coming years we won’t be reading our thrillers so much as watching them on our devices, that the written word is devolving. I’m not sure I agree with that; interesting concept though, however, I could very well imagine reading along and having visual and/or sound effects possible. Now that will change Thrillers. Opens up all kinds of issues from ratings to hiring a crew to produce a book. Now that’s totally rad brohah!!

  10. Great points, Basil.

    I have often wondered if “the answer” for Barnes and Noble and brick and mortar bookstores might be to offer a digital copy WITH print books sold. I personally would love that value, and logistically, it would be nice to have the book on my shelf but be able to flit to the e-book when more convenient. I wonder if print book sales would go up in a situation like that or remain mostly unchanged.

  11. Colby, great response!

    I’ve been nipping at B&N’s heels trying to get them to let me do electronic book signings side by side with the sale of their Nook. I live in Huntsville, AL, the Silicon Valley of the South! We have loads of high tech companies doing everything imaginable, and one just happens to be the founder of Autography.com, a company that has developed the technology for to do electronic book signings. It let’s anyone from around the world get that personalized autograph and message straight from the author (electronically) downloaded to their device without having to leave home so to speak. I see this as one of the waves of future eBook signings. Avon picked up the technology and by all accounts from my neighbor, they’re loving it. And while I love the face to face, it’s not always possible or affordable. Plus, readers enjoy getting something from the author.

  12. Excellent addition to the forum, Colby! Thanks for sharing that great article. Just goes to show that what works one day can be totally different the next.

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