How did KILLER YEAR get started?
It all started as a conversation between Jason Pinter, Brett Battles and J.T. Ellison about how to get reviews for paperback novels. It’s hard enough to get reviewed as a debut author. To be in paperback makes this feat a bit of a double whammy. After a few well-placed comments by some industry insiders, such as Sarah Weinman, we realized we had something that would help not just with reviews, but with one of the most important aspects of marketing – promotion. Thus, KY was born. We’ve got authors in each medium, paperback, trade and hardcover, and the reviews so far have been stellar.
What was the author selection process?
It was difficult. We wanted to include all the debut authors, but that wasn’t feasible—promoting a few would be hard enough, promoting every 2007 debut author well would have been difficult. We’re all learning. We didn’t want anyone to stake their careers on this group’s success or failure. In the end, we decided to stick with authors from traditional publishing houses who would have some marketing and promotion commitments already.
What is the advantage of promoting a group of same-genre authors?
From an industry standpoint, there are a few well-known conferences, magazines, listserves and blogs that all members of the crime fiction community are familiar with. A mention in one of these venues reaches the vast majority of our potential readers. By developing a specific message—that the Killer Year books would provide readers with a consistent level of quality in their preferred genre— and getting mentions from these venues, it is similar to buying weekly in the newspaper or on television. It’s easy to target your market if you know where your market resides.
What is the state of the crime/thriller/suspense genre?
It’s never been stronger. The diversity of the books coming to market, the quality of the work, the consistent output from our industry leaders, all work in concert to make crime fiction the genre to watch. There are two strong organizations shepherding the authors in this genre – International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. The leadership from these two organizations is helping to sustain a non-fragmented readership. The major publishing houses seem to be buying more high-quality crime fiction, and the readers continue to keep thrillers and mysteries on the bestseller lists. The diversity within the genre has never been greater, with something for every reader’s specific taste. It’s heartening to see.
KILLER YEAR authors have a mentor relationship with some high profile authors like Lee Child and Tess Gerritsen. What has that experience been like?
The board of the International Thriller Writers was instrumental in helping shepherd our group almost from the beginning. We met many of the board in Phoenix, at the first annual ThrillerFest in June, 2006. We were passing out limited edition Killer Year T-shits and M.J. Rose, the head of marketing for ITW, was interested in our story. We sat down, discussed our goals, and ITW became our “adoptive parents.” They’ve been overwhelmingly generous with their time. They arranged for each Killer Year member to have a mentor, a member of ITW who knows the ropes. They’ve planned a breakfast for ThrillerFest 2007, one that will include all of ITW’s debut authors. They have been instrumental in providing reviews of our books in their newsletter, openly supporting our endeavors, and guiding our actions, sometimes even tempering our newbie enthusiasm with a dose of reality. We’ve been honored to work with them at every stage.
For more information on Killer Year, please visit our website .