In April, 2013, the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD), Colorado Springs, Colo., hosted the seventh annual Mountain of Authors program. Bringing local authors into the library and having panels with experts that discuss a wide variety of information regarding books and publishing has been a great success for the library. Starting such a large program is a bit daunting, but the enjoyment had by the authors and attendees makes the effort worthwhile.
PPLD started this program as an effort to showcase writing, especially that of our local authors. Since its inception, some of the organization and timing of the program has changed, but we have found a formula that works well for our audience. The program now consists of two panels, an author showcase, and a keynote speaker.
The panels generally have three or four speakers knowledgeable on a subject matter. We try to change the topics every year, but have found that information regarding publication is very popular. With that in mind, we typically have a panel that focuses on publishing. Panelists have included traditional publishers, representatives of the self-publishing industry, and an author and his agent. Other panel topics have included Paranormal Fiction (and urban fantasy), Love and War where authors incorporate aspects of romance and war into their books, Thrills and Chills with a focus on suspense and thrillers, and Words and Pictures where we had people who worked in picture and photography books.
To include more authors in the event, we also have an Author Showcase. A few months before the event, an invitation to participate is sent out to local authors, who have expressed interest in the program. Many of these authors also have records in our Local Authors database. Anyone who participates is given a table to display his/her works. During what we call the Author Showcase Spotlight, the authors have the opportunity to introduce themselves and briefly discuss what they write. Numerous opportunities are provided during breaks for attendees to walk around the room, meet the authors, and purchase and have books signed. This aspect of the program has proved to be a great way for self-published authors to expand awareness about their books.
Keynotes can be a little trickier to find. Ideally, we like to have a well-known, best-selling author, but we have the requirement that they be from Colorado, preferably the eastern side. Past keynotes include Sandra Dallas, Margaret Coel, Beverly Lewis, Jerry B. Jenkins, Connie Willis, and in 2013, Stephen Coonts.
One of the reasons this program has been such a success is because we have a great team that works to put it together. Several library staff work on the project, and we also have representatives from the community who help by offering suggestions for panels and authors. The Colorado Springs area is fortunate to have several writers’ groups, including Pikes Peak Writers (PPW). A PPW representative helps with the initial planning meeting where topics and keynote possibilities are discussed. A local publisher and author help at this meeting, as well. Many of the writing groups also have tables at the event where aspiring authors can speak with someone about the benefits of writing groups.
Mountain of Authors has truly become an event where the craft of writing is celebrated and information about it is shared freely.
Tags: author programming