On April 23, a trio of authors who were recognized with 2012 Michael L. Printz Awards embarks on a group tour to California and Virginia. Joining forces are Printz winner John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back, Atheneum) and Printz Honor winners Daniel Handler (Why We Broke Up, Little, Brown) and Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races, Scholastic Press). The tour is unusual for two reasons: it involves honorees of a single award and it was coordinated by publicists at three different houses.
The tour, a brainchild of Paul Crichton, v-p and director of publicity for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, was sparked by Whaley’s Printz win. “I realized that we had such a commodity in this author, who is exceptionally personable and affable,” Crichton says. “That, paired with the attraction of group tours, made this tour very attractive. We’ve had strong success with YA group tours, often entailing pairing up bestselling authors and newcomers.”
Crichton’s team approached publicists at the other publishers of Printz honorees, and Handler and Stiefvater were soon signed on to tour with Whaley. The two remaining Printz honorees, Christine Hinwood (The Returning, Dial) and Craig Silvey (Jasper Jones, Knopf) were unable to tour at this time. Tour stops include the Burbank Public Library in Burbank, Calif., Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif., two high schools and Books Inc. in San Francisco, Jabberwocky Books in Fredericksburg, Va., and Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Va.
Scholastic publicist Becky Amsel notes that this is the first tour she has helped organize that spotlights winners of a single award, and that the Printz tour offered the rare chance to coordinate author appearances with colleagues at other houses. “We all find ourselves in the same circles and team up our authors for certain events, like panels at conventions and YA festivals,” she says. “But working with others to organize a tour like this was a unique experience for me.” Amsel, who says that coordinating the authors’ schedules was a “bit of a juggling act,” especially since they all hail from different parts of the country, will join the authors on the California leg of the tour.
At S&S, publicist Siena Koncsol says that arranging a tour with publicists from other companies was also a first for her, and she views the tour as a “great opportunity to maximize these Printz winners’ exposure to readers. It will let each author’s fans discover the other authors, and seeing them play off each other will be a treat for kids. And it will be fun for the authors, too.”
Also involved in organizing the Printz tour, Sara Zick, associate director of publicity at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, emphasizes the appeal of this three-author tour to YA readers. “We were thrilled when we heard the idea of putting the Printz winner and honor authors on the road,” she says. “Usually they only all come together at ALA Annual, so the opportunity for teens to celebrate these outstanding books at events just for them, months after the books’ initial publication, was not to be missed.”
One bookseller who is enthusiastic about hosting the trio of writers is Maggie Tokuda-Hall, children’s event coordinator at the 11-chain Books Inc. in San Francisco. “An award-themed tour is certainly unique, and it is very cool to see a panel of authors of this breadth and literary depth put together by publishers,” she says. “ We are having these authors appear as part of our Not Your Mother’s Book Club, which is our teen YA author salon. I’ve enlisted the help of three local bloggers, who will each post an interview with one of the authors on the day of the event. We expect to have a good turnout. Getting three authors of this caliber together is a pretty big deal.”
The authors, too, are looking forward to the tour. Stiefvater, who has only “met” Whaley and Corey online, spotlights two benefits to touring with other authors. “From the author’s side of things, it puts me smack-dab in the middle of the author community that I normally only get to be a part of online,” she says. “YA authors are generally vibrant, eccentric, and wonderful people, and usually, if my fellow tourees don’t begin as my friends, we part that way. And I think this translates to the other side of the coin, which is the reader advantage to group touring. Group events often have a great dynamic that you can’t quite replicate on your own. I have a ton of fun bantering back and forth during events, and I get e-mail to prove that readers have a ton of fun with it too.”
Whaley, who has never participated in a group tour, also anticipates that their joint appearances will be uplifting for both the presenters and the audience. “It’s great to be able to feed off one another and show readers that you truly enjoy what you do,” he says. “And it’s also great to give readers a choice, and, sometimes, to pull in new fans from each other’s readers. As a new writer, I’m really looking forward to watching Maggie and Daniel in action and taking tips from them. They’ve both had amazing careers as authors, and I know I can learn a lot.”
Handler weighs in with his trademark drollness. A key advantage of touring with others, he says, is “being able to blame the other authors for my own literary weaknesses.” What is he most looking forward to on the Printz tour? “Unpeeling Mr. Whaley’s stickers from his book and putting them on mine, when he isn’t looking.”