Group tours are becoming de rigueur for YA authors, but a quintet of novelists are putting a new spin on the trend. The five, who are each publishing with different imprints, have teamed up to organize Bringing YA to You. Readers can cast votes through mid-February for the U.S. or Canadian locale they’d like the authors to visit; then, the novelists will travel to the location receiving the most votes to stage a panel discussion and book signing.

The participating authors and their upcoming books are Beth Revis (Shades of Earth, Razorbill), Marissa Meyer (Scarlet, Feiwel and Friends), Marie Lu (Prodigy, Putnam), Victoria Schwab (The Archived, Hyperion), and Megan Shepherd (The Madman’s Daughter, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). The promotion also includes a drawing, open to readers worldwide, for a set of 10 books autographed by the authors.

The contest was inspired in part by Revis’s very positive experiences with group tours. After meeting Schwab and fellow YA author Myra McEntire at a writing retreat, the three organized the “Ash to Nash” tour in August 2011, which took them to eight cities between Ashville, N.C. (near Revis’s hometown) to Nashville, Tenn. (Schwab and McEntire’s home turf). In February 2012, Revis and Lu also participated in Penguin Young Readers Group’s Breathless Reads tour, along with Andrea Cremer and Jessica Spotswood, an event that will be reprised this February.

“Victoria and I were talking about how awesome our Ash to Nash tour was, and how we’d like to create a similar experience,” Revis says. “We thought it would be great to visit a place where our readers really want to meet us, so we decided to open it up to a vote. Since Marissa, Marie, and Megan also have new books coming out soon, we decided to bring them in on it.”

In the meantime, Revis has another promotional ball in the air for her new dystopian sci-fi thriller, due out January 15. If Razorbill receives more pre-orders for Shades of Earth than the combined pre-orders for Across the Universe and A Million Suns (the prior books in the trilogy, which have a combined in-print tally of 245,000 copies), a copy of Shades of Earth will be launched into space via a high-altitude weather balloon equipped with an HD camera and a GPS tracker. To be arranged by Project Aether, a program that collaborates with schools to teach students physics concepts and experimental research skills and to demonstrate accessible space exploration, the launch would send the book more than 90,000 feet into the air.

Revis conceived of the high-flying promotion after a friend sent her information about similarly balloon-launched student science projects. “It occurred to me that it would be so cool if we could send my book into space, and I mentioned it to Gillian Levinson, my editor,” says Revis. “I was sure she would laugh me out of her office, but she said she loved the idea! At this point, I am very hopeful that we’ll get enough pre-orders to send Shades of Earth soaring above the stratosphere.”

The Perks of Teamwork

Revis, who prefers group gigs to solo appearances, notes that multiple author events have benefits for participants and audiences. “It’s fun to appear with colleagues and be able to riff off each other,” she says. “We’re all fans of each other’s work, and it’s great to turn questions around to the others. And it’s fun to give readers more than one opinion about things. I had written 10 books before I found one that worked, but Andrea Cremer had her very first book published. It’s nice to share both experiences and let readers see that every writer is unique.”

To promote the contest, the authors mailed 500 postcards to booksellers, schools, and librarians, who can request bookmarks publicizing the initiative and download a poster from the contest Web site. Revis notes that on January 1, "we opened the contest with a big online push, soliciting hundreds of book bloggers to post about the contest and why they want us to come to their individual hometowns." The voting has taken off at a brisk clip: as of noon today, just two days after the contest launched, there are already close to 1,000 entries.

Revis says she’d like the chance to visit “a small, little-known town that authors rarely go to. I love visiting communities that are usually overlooked by book tours, like my own North Carolina town of Union Mills. My dream is to create a map of all the places we get requests from in the contest, to show where our readers are.”