May 18 – 24: “How intense is the plotting and vindictiveness of some houses – no names!”

thriller-roundtable-logo5People imagine the publishing world to be one of camaraderie. But is that naïve? This week ITW Members Ralph Pezzullo, Cat Connor, JG Faherty, Gary Grossman, Ines Eberl-Calic and Jean Heller discuss how intense the plotting and vindictiveness of some houses can be – no names!


Hunt the Fox by Don Mann and Ralph PezzulloRalph Pezzullo is a New York Times bestselling author, and an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His books have been published in over twenty languages and include Jawbreaker (with CIA operative Gary Berntsen), Inside SEAL Team Six (with Don Mann), The Walk-In, At the Fall of Somoza, The Chopin Manuscript (winner of the 2008 Audio Book of the Year), Plunging Into Haiti (winner of the 2006 Douglas Dillon Prize for American Diplomacy), Eve Missing, Blood of My Blood, Most Evil (with Steve Hodel), the SEAL Team Six thrillers Hunt the Wolf, Hunt the Scorpion, Hunt the Falcon, Hunt the Jackal, and The Navy SEAL Survival Handbook (also with Don Mann).

Eraserbyte by Cat ConnorCat Connor is a Cantabrian who’s lived most of her life as a northerner. (Makes it a bit hard when the Crusaders play the Hurricanes but apart from that it’s not too bad.) She shares her office with a retired racing greyhound called Romeo and Missy the fat grey cat. Luckily the animals don’t mind loud music. Hosting a fortnightly writing workshop at the Upper Hutt City Library: A Writer’s Plot, is something Cat truly enjoys, and she’s been doing so for 3 years. A coffee addict, lover of pinot, and Jose Cuervo tequila, Cat has been described as irresistible, infectious, and addictive. She believes music is as essential to life as breathing. Cat is a member of The New Zealand Society of Authors and International Thriller Writers. Her latest book, databyte, is longlisted for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh best crime novel Award.

old earthGary Grossman is an Emmy Award–winning television producer, a journalist, college teacher, and author of the bestselling thrillers Executive Actions, Executive Treason, and Executive Command, from Diversion Books. As a member of the International Thriller Writers he has participated in numerous ThrillerFest panels. He credits Michael Palmer for helping launch his career and thanks other ITW members W. G. Griffiths, Steve Berry, and C. J. Lyons, among others, for their help and inspiration. Grossman teaches at Loyola Marymount University’s Graduate School of Film and Television and is a contributing editor to Media Ethics Magazine.

hellerMost of Jean Heller’s career was as an investigative and projects reporter and editor in New York City, Washington, D.C. and St. Petersburg Florida. Her career as a novelist began in the 1990s with the publication of the thrillers, “Maximum Impact” and “Handyman” by St. Martin’s Press. Then life intervened and postponed her new book, “The Someday File,” to publication in late 2014. Jean has won the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.


TheCureJG Faherty is the author of six novels, seven novellas, and more than 50 short stories. His latest novel is THE CURE, a paranormal thriller about a veterinarian who can heal by laying hands. He has been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award® and the ITW Thriller Award. To learn more, please visit his blog and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



Cover BlunzengröstlAs well as being a crime author, Ines Eberl is an Austrian law historian and practising lawyer. She was born in Berlin, Germany, studied at Salzburg University and practices law in Salzburg. She is a member of both the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and the Crime Writers´ Association (CWA). Blunzengröstl/Murder à la Carte is her fifth mystery novel. All her novels have met with an excellent reception.



  1. Posted on behalf of author Dr. Ines Eberl-Calic:

    The question to what extent camaraderie determines the ratio in publishing, implies the question of the relationship between publisher and author. If we assume that the term camaraderie is characterized by altruism, it is clear that there can be no such aspect in a business relationship as it exists between an author and his publisher. Each publishing house is a market-oriented company, which does not mean it is not focused on quality in literature. It is in the personal opinion of an author how far he is willing to follow the guidelines from plotting to choosing a title. And of course it is up to his role in his publishing house how much influence he can take on all decisions.

    In my experience, an author is well advised to consider the advice of his editor or even the marketing department of his publishing house and to make compromises. It gives him the freedom and the opportunity to reach his readers and to transport the message and the values of his text. Even though it may be difficult after weeks and months of hard work at the desk to have critical distance from the manuscript – narcism should never lead an author.

    This in mind, I think, we should not expect camaraderie of our publishers. What we can request is a fair business relationship and the awareness to follow the same path. Then the joint success will benefit everyone – authors, publishers and especially our readers.

  2. The way I look at it, if a publishing house likes my books enough to publish them, I’m going to do everything in my power to make it a successful collaboration and partnership. Because that’s what it is– a business partnership. We both want books we are proud of and sell. Forget about vindictiveness and how other authors are treated and focus on establishing mutual respect.

    Assume that the people you’re working with in a particular publishing house are professionals who are doing the best they can. Listen to your editors, and listen to the people in the marketing department. Maybe at some point you think you have a better solution to a particular problem. Don’t hesitate to give your suggestions, but always do so with respect and consideration. If they don’t agree with you, listen to their reasons and move on.

    Two things to keep in mind: you can only control what you can control. And, no one knows for certain what will work. So as much as you want each of your books to be a success, understand that publishing (like anything else) is a learning process. Ideally, you write better books each time, and your publisher gets better at understanding how to market them.

    Like with any other relationship, the goal is to build trust. If after trying, you’re unable to achieve that at a particular house, thank them and try another.

  3. It’s probably naïve for sure to think that the publishing world is different from any other industry. Things go on behind the scenes of any business. People want to get ahead, people hold grudges, people get on each others’ nerves… it’s human nature. Or at least workplace nature. And even though in publishing editors, marketing teams, and writers are often separated by thousands of miles, it’s no different. Some people are going to do things that annoy others, or so things that simply aren’t professional.

    Now, I can’t say for sure what goes on and what doesn’t, outside of my own experiences and things I’ve seen happen to others. I’m sure my own experiences aren’t unusual, though. Or unexpected. Luckily, the bad experiences have been few and far between. For the most part, the writers and editors I’ve met are all friendly and interested in doing whatever it takes to help each other succeed.

    Of course, we all know about the big fiascos that make the news. Amazon vs. big publishers. Writers coming out to support one side or the other and sniping at each other in the news and in social media. You hate to see it, yet at the same time it’s healthy in a way (except for the relationships that get ruined) because it brings the arguments of both sides into the light so that all writers and editors can have enough information to make informed decisions.

    In the small press, the problems tend to lie more in professional attitude. Some writers just don’t know how to behave at conventions or on social media, and it puts a target on their back, not only from other writers but from publishers. Who wants to work with someone who badmouths their editor or proofreader in public? Who wants to work with someone whose mercurial moods or stubborn attitudes create difficulties at every step? And, in terms of social media, let’s face it. If you voice an opinion that is radical or derogatory, it can prevent people from signing you to a contract.

    On the publishing side, more than once I’ve seen evidence of bad or shady business practices. Even been on the receiving end of them a couple of times over the years. It’s not fun. Luckily, the major writers’ groups – the HWA, SFWA, etc. – all have grievance committees to help their members in those types of instances. And, more often than not, publishers who operate poor business models tend to not stay in business very long.

    Overall, though, my time as a writer has been mostly enjoyable, and I’ve made a lot of friendships with writers, editors, and publishers. As industries go, it’s far from the worst to work in.

  4. I have had mostly pleasant experiences with publishers. Which is not to say that everything has always moved along smoothly. However, all the bumps I recall occurred toward the end of the process, just before my manuscripts magically turned into real books. Those glitches were definitely not the product of vindictiveness or plotting against me; they were the product of the final rush into print.

    I share the experience with other writers I count among my friends. The galleys arrive with a notice they have to be read, marked up, and back in the publisher’s hands in five days. That is not nearly long enough to do a thorough reading or copyediting job. Or cover art is dull and boring or simply incorrect, but there is no time to fix it.

    Of course one of the most vexing things that can sully the relationship between a writer and a publishing house is marketing. The lion’s share of ever-decreasing marketing dollars go to the wildly successful writers who would sell a gazillion copies if they put their names on phone books. The mid-list writers who most need the marketing help are left with the dregs of the marketing budgets, or nothing at all.

    And, finally, I have learned through personal experience and anecdotal evidence that publishers don’t offer much content and editing help these days. A lot of in-house editors are gone, and manuscripts are farmed out to freelancers who might or might not know what they are doing.

    All of these things leave bad tastes in the mouths of authors, but they aren’t slights and oversights to be taken personally. They’re just the way the business is.

  5. I’m happy to report that I’ve had a wonderful relationship with Diversion Books. More than wonderful. Incredible. My interaction with my editors, management, marketing and social media executives has been highly creative, totally engaging and an absolute pleasure. I always believe “I don’t know what I don’t know.” In all the areas of publishing, they do, and they’ve made my work better. Of course, I provide a lot of ideas on marketing and will discuss reasons to keep some plot points. But everything is a dialogue and I view myself as a team member.

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