Thumbing an 11-City Author Tour

Indie Chicago Review Press has arranged an unconventional book tour for Elijah Wald, whose memoir, Riding with Strangers, details his hitchhiking adventures on four continents. Wald will thumb his way to each of the 11 cities on his cross-country tour beginning in Seattle at Elliot Bay Bookstore on May 16. After the event, he'll hit the road for Powell's Booksin Portland, Ore. Wald will conclude his tour on June 12 at Coliseum Books in New York City. "The average cost of most of an author tour sponsored by the publisher is around $5,000," said Elisabeth Malzahn, publicist at Independent Publishers Group. "This tour is estimated to be around $1,500."

Wald will be traveling with only the possessions on his back and a guitar. Because he will be traveling without either a cellphone or a computer and CRP will have no way to reach him between store visits, Wald's appearances and interviews were booked and confirmed further in advance than usual. He also has no hotel reservations. "He prefers to sleep in places where he won't get bothered by people trying to arrest or steal from him," said Malzahn. "He's made friends touring the country several times so we know he'll stay with friends in Boston." Folk musician Rosalie Sorrels plans to be Wald's ride for his two Idaho stops where they will perform together, but she won't be taking him in or out of the state.

—Kevin Howell

Jefferson Press Creates Fiction Prize

Four-year-old Jefferson Press, on Lookout Mountain, Tenn., began with a focus on nonfiction but found its fiction legs last fall with Joe Samuel Starnes's Calling. Hoping to build a select but strong fiction list, it is launching a $5,000 prize to find one novel or short story collection per year by an unpublished writer. The winner of the annual Best New Voice in Fiction competition, which runs through the end of this year, will be announced at the Chattanooga Festival of Writers in 2007. The new biennial festival will rotate with the Chattanooga Conference on Southern Literature.

"Fiction is a tough nut to crack, especially for a young press our size," noted founder and publisher David Magee. "We would not have wanted to begin the annual prize without first making a run with a significant work of fiction. But now our focus for this part of our list will be on the Jefferson Press Prize winners." Visit for entry forms.—Bob Summer