Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Big Thrill

The webzine of the International Thriller Writers, "The Big Thrill," has a new feature each month listing the "New E-Releases" of members, and The Grand Mirage is on the first list in the issue out today.

ITW, which is backed and maybe funded by some of the bestselling thriller writers, has been in something of quandary with the surge in self-published thrillers. The group restricts membership to authors whose books appear with "qualified" publishers, ranging from the big mainstream houses to small presses and even to agents who are publishing their own authors' books. Even as the digital revolution is breaking down traditional barriers and busting the whole process wide open, they have tried to maintain something of a closed shop.

It is a true dilemma, because if there were no restrictions the organization would quickly be overrun by writers of books that don't meet minimal literary criteria. But who's to judge? How do you navigate the gray -- enlisting the genuinely good indies and keeping out, well, the riff-raff? As a tentative first step, ITW is now routinely publicizing self-published novels of active members who have previously had books from qualified publishers as well as associate members. And it is opening its prize competitions to these books as well.

New filters will have to evolve in the digital book world, to replace the traditional filters of publishers and bookstores that determined which books got into print and got into the public's hands. Reviews of course will be important and groups like ITW should be able to play a constructive role as well. This is certainly a step in the right direction.

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