Notes from the road

I’m in Cincinnati at the moment, enjoying a visit to the city where one of the more momentous events in my professional life happened 12 years ago. I was on book tour for HARVEST, my first hardcover thriller. And here in this city, I learned that I’d hit the New York Times bestseller list for the very first time. For that reason, Cincinnati will always hold a special place in my heart.

Another reason it’s a favorite place for me is that I get the chance to catch up with a media escort who’s been with me every time I’ve visited the Cincy-Dayton area. Just to be clear, I’m talking MEDIA escort, not escort as in ESCORT service, a difference which sometimes leads to amusing misconceptions about what it is, exactly, authors do on the road. Media escorts are generally hired by the publisher to make authors’ lives easier on the road. They drive us around, take us to interviews and bookstores, feed us, pamper us, and make sure we’re not going psychotic. A good media escort is like a surrogate mommy, and Kathy T. is one of the best, a woman who’s also become a friend. She and I can’t remember how many times we’ve been together, but I think it’s been at least five times, and over the years we’ve shared stories about our kids and our marriages and our personal crises. She’s watched me mellow over the years, since my first few releases. I started off as a nervous author, worried about my very survival in the publishing world. Now I’m feeling a little more confident, and know that what matters is simply that I write good books, and leave the sales to good luck, which is sometimes what it comes down to.

Over the years, after twelve book tours, I’ve come to know many great media escorts around the country. They’re the familiar faces waiting at airport baggage claim, the friendly voices on the phone, the helpful life-savers who’ll sometimes even offer to launder your suitcase of dirty clothes, time permitting.

So here’s a big thanks to all the escorts who make life on the road a pleasure for authors. We don’t always remember to send you thank-you notes (because usually we get home and realize we don’t have either your email or your mailing addresses!) But we couldn’t do it without you.

9 replies
  1. Kyle K.
    Kyle K. says:

    They sound like real life-savers! And it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to hoof it alone out there, especially in places you’ve never been before.

    Enjoy Cincinnati!

  2. Abe
    Abe says:

    Good Morning, Tess,

    Ohio. The only state that’s round on both ends and “hi” in the middle. (I finally got to use that joke). Have a great time and I’m glad you have Kathy with you.
    Abe

  3. ec
    ec says:

    I’ve only worked with two media escorts but I loved them both. One lovely, gracious gal impressed me endlessly with her ability to FIND PARKING SPACES ANYWHERE IN BOSTON. Seriously. Apparently she had a working relationship with all the doormen at every hotel (or a fairy godmother who gifted her at birth with this amazing ability). She’d pull up to the door, exchange a few cheerful words with the doorman, and off we’d go. And she’d call ahead from the bookstore, so the car would be RIGHT BACK WHERE WE LEFT IT when we arrived. As a former resident of the Boston area, I was astonished to see a car on the street without a ticket on the windshield or a yellow metal boot on the rear tire.

  4. therese
    therese says:

    Escorts are the unsung heroes for travelers.

    I personally find it fun that you’re in Cincy while in my life, a cousin who lives in Portland Maine has been visiting us in Portland Oregon and most of our memories rehashed and laughed over were from those days growing up in Ohio. It was Cleveland, not Cincinatti but there’s not a lot of miles or difference between the two.

    Happy touring!

  5. tuttle
    tuttle says:

    Tess-
    A curious question-
    are these kind folks accounted for in the “budget” during the promotional tour?

    Is this “perk” provided for first time authors as well?
    Or does one have to have a few books under one’s belt?
    Does it all depend on how the publisher thinks the book has “legs”??
    For instance, does an author who has a vampire book (which at the time would be a hot seller) get all the needed provisions and escorts for a tour and an author who writes just literary fiction get the bare essentials for a tour just because literary fiction doesnt sell as well as vampires?
    Thanks if you find time to reply

  6. Tess
    Tess says:

    tuttle,
    the publisher generally pays for the media escorts, and they’re included in the budget of a promotional tour. If a publisher decides to send you out on book tour, media escorts are usually part of the arrangement. It’s the publisher’s decision, and a lot of factors go into it — whether they think a tour will help sales, whether they think the author is good with the public, whether the media is interested. It seems to me that nonfiction authors are more likely to be sent on tour, also authors of hardcovers. The important thing is that you have a “hook” that can draw the media’s interest.

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