When you have multiple authors of a single book, organizing a launch party can be tricky. McPherson & Company has, perhaps, found a solution. The Kingston, NY, small press is celebrating the release of its new anthology, Every Father’s Daughter (April), by coordinating a series of events, throughout the country, on the same day and time.
Nine launch parties are set for May 23, from 4 pm EST to 6 pm EST. Each will follow the same format: a reading, followed by a signing and a discussion. Finally, all the events will connect via Skype for a more wide-ranging discussion involving the authors and audiences at all the stores.
“If it works--and I'm told it can--readers at one store will be able to speak with authors at another store,” explained publisher Bruce McPherson. Every Father’s Daughter is a collection of essays by 24 women writers remembering their fathers. Contributors include Jane Smiley, Ann Hood, Jill McCorkle, Alexandra Styron, Bliss Broyard, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alice Munro, and others. The 302-page book is being released in hardcover only, with a 5,000-copy first printing.
Seven independent bookstores, a writing center, and an educational/cultural organization--all selected on the basis of where the authors could be on the 23rd--are involved, with at least one author set to appear in store. The participating bookstores include Brookline Booksmith in the Boston metro; New Dominion Books in Charlottesville, Va.; Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C; River House Books in Carmel, Calif.; Literati Books in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Carmichael’s in Louisville, Ky.; and The Golden Notebook in Woodstock, NY.
The Indy Reads Books writing center in Indianapolis will host the editor of Every Father’s Daughter, novelist Margaret McMullan, as well as three other essayists. In New York City, McPherson will emcee an event, which will be held in the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen building in Midtown Manhattan. Appearing alongside McPherson will be Phillip Lopate, who wrote the book’s introduction, and his daughter, Lily Lopate, who contributed an essay. Lopate is the brother of WNYC public radio host Leonard Lopate.
"This is an absolutely unique event," General Society program director Karin Taylor told PW. "This is a terrific idea, that this should be going on across the country at the same time," she said. "We've had plenty of literary events here, but never anything like this."
Kate Weiss, the events coordinator at the flagship Carmichael’s store, which will host Bobbie Ann Mason and Nancy McCabe, said that McPherson’s proposal for this event caught her eye because the format “set it apart and made it different” from the typical reading. Carmichael’s, which was founded in 1978, hosts one or two author events in its three locations each week. “Hopefully, this event is going to get nationwide coverage,” Weiss said.
John Ganiard, the events coordinator at Literati Books in Ann Arbor, which opened its doors two years ago, said that he had never heard of an event for books with this type of “conference-style format.” Calling the event a "bold" idea, he said the idea of connecting multiple events through Skype is especially exciting.
McPherson & Company, which was founded in 1974, publishes three or four books each year, both literary fiction and nonfiction. The McPherson-published Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon, won a National Book Award in 2010, and Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill won the 2014 PEN USA award for fiction.
A previous version of this story stated that Leonard Lopate was involved with this project. He is not. Phillip Lopate wrote the introduction to this anthology and will appear at the May 23 event in New York City.