Three editors, seven days, six bookstores in five states (and the District of Columbia), 2,500 miles, and countless hours of book talk and laughter add up to Tor’s first-ever editors’ tour, dubbed #EdiTORsOnTour across social media. On Sunday, February 21st, Melissa Frain, Whitney Ross, and Miriam Weinberg piled into Frain’s Volkswagen Jetta to set off on their trip, which tactically coincided with bookstore events featuring authors whose Tor books were edited by the trio: V.E. Schwab (Weinberg), Susan Dennard (Ross), and Veronica Rossi (Frain).
The editors’ first bookstore stop was Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Ky., after which they rolled on to Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn.; Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, S.C.; Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C.; One More Page Books in Arlington, Va.; and Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. Highlights of the trip included Parnassus’s launch event on February 23 for Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows, and a joint author event at Malaprop’s on February 25 promoting Dennard’s Truthwitch and Rossi’s Riders.
Coordinated by Patty Garcia, director of publicity for Tor and Forge Books, with the help of the publisher’s sales reps, the editors’ informal store visits entailed checking out book shelves and displays (with a sharp eye out for their own authors’ novels), gabbing with booksellers about favorite authors and books, and swapping stories of their respective roles in bringing literature and readers together. By all reports, these personal encounters with like-minded book enthusiasts were invaluable.
“I think we all felt that inherently we had a lot in common with the booksellers we met,” said Frain. “It was though we were meant to be friends! To have an opportunity to browse the stores and chat was so informative and fun. As editors, we rarely get the chance to hang out with booksellers, and it was gratifying to see how happy they all were to see us.”
One host, Johanna Albrecht, children’s manager at Flyleaf Books, reciprocated the editors’ enthusiasm about meeting face-to-face. “Booksellers don’t often have personal contact with anyone in editorial, and it was a lot of fun to hear Melissa, Whitney, and Miriam talk about their books, and to talk together about books we love personally,” she said. “It was also a great opportunity to let them see what we do every day, and to help them understand the unique strengths of indies, as well the reality of our space limitations and the fact that each staff member wears many hats.”
Connecting with their authors – those whose events they attended as well as local authors with whom they met up along their route – was another bonus for the editors. “It is often so hard to sit at our desks, supporting our authors from a distance,” said Ross. “We were all excited about joining them on the road to cheer them on, and to get some in-person time with them, as well as with some of our other authors who can’t get to New York very often.” At the author events, the editors were also pleased to meet YA bloggers, aspiring young writers, and local authors who came out to applaud their literary comrades.
The authors celebrated at events greatly appreciated their editors’ efforts to attend. Said Schwab: “My books wouldn’t be what they are without Miriam, and I couldn'’t have asked for a better person to be in conversation with on release night. I think it gave fans a chance to hear from a less public but vitally important part of the series they love.” Rossi chimed in: “Melissa is just as invested in Riders as I am. I loved having her with me at an event to see the readers’ excitement, which was a rewarding experience and a victory we share.” And from Dennard: “These books are our editors’ babies as much as they are our own, so Whitney and the other editors really deserve the same chance to enjoy the epic end-result of connecting with readers.”
Their authors were frequently on the editors’ minds as they experienced first-hand the perks and pitfalls of life on the road – which for them involved seven- or eight-hour days in the car. “We all came away with so much understanding of and sympathy for the energy and stamina that touring requires, along with the 5:30 a.m. wakeup calls – but there is also the excitement and joy,” Ross observed. “We kept marveling about how impressive that authors sometimes do this for weeks on end,” Weinberg added. “We were often utterly exhausted, but we had so much fun!”
Expounding on the “fun” quotient, here is a sampling of the editors’ highlights from the trip: a chance encounter, at Flyleaf Books, with Sarah Dessen, who popped into the store to inscribe a book for a customer; a visit to the world’s largest free-standing chest of drawers (38 feet tall), a roadside attraction in High Point, N.C.; frequent, good-natured squabbling about which Hogwarts house they’d each be sorted to; and copious consumption of biscuits, grits, and waffles.
Would they head out on the highway together again? Each editor offered the identical response: “Absolutely!”